IOWA CITY, IA -- Akrum Wadley carried 12 times for 121 yards and two of five Hawkeye rushing TDs as No. 17 Iowa defeated the Miami RedHawks, 45-21, Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Miami, making its first trip back . . .
(EDITOR’S NOTE: CHECK MAC REPORTER ONLINE THIS WEEK – TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY – FOR A IOWA V. MIAMI PICTURE GALLERY THAT WILL INCLUDE JAMES GARDNER’S LEAPING TD CATCH)
While interceptions were a major contributor to turnover totals last year, Miami quarterback Billy Bahl did not throw a pick in the opener, fumbles hurt both Miami’s offense and defense. Iowa recovered both its fumbles, and a near fumble that went out of the MU end zone for an apparent touchback was ruled incomplete upon review. Miami lost all three fumbles, two coming when Iowa defenders got to Bahl on passing plays. The other followed a missed block on a short pass to running back Maurice Thomas.
Bahl, a true sophomore, appeared much more at ease and poised against IU than during last year’s baptism by fire. He completed 19 of 29 for 266
yards and two touchdowns.
Rokeem Williams and James Gardner shared team high honors with six catches. Williams totaled 113 yards, while Gardner followed up some impressive work in fall camp two touchdowns – one coming on a spectacular leaping fingertip grab.
Miami also had a solid day rushing the football, which has been an ongoing project that finally started to show progress late last year. Head coach Chuck Martin was particularly pleased that his team could put up 158 yards on 41 rushes against a very talented and physical defense in Iowa. The 158 included 19-lost yards on three sacks of Bahl.
Iowa managed to do much of its early damage on the edges, using wide running plays and bubble screens to pick up chunk yardage – sometimes quickly capitalizing on MU turnovers. In addition to Wadley’s 121 rushing yards, LeShun Daniels gained 83 yards on 10 carries. He also had two touchdowns.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 13 of 20 passes for 192 yards and one score. He was sacked twice, fumbling on one occasion, but that was recovered by the Hawkeyes.
Matt VandeBerg caught four balls for 99 yards, while Jerminic Smith grabbed three passes for 51 yards and a score.
Iowa got nearly half its points during a 21-point first quarter blitz of the RedHawks.
Dezmond King, a talented defensive back who is taking on punt return duties this year, shined in his return debut. Miami punted to the senior after its first drive stalled, and King took down the left sideline. Standout linebacker Josey Jewell made a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play, laying out a Miami player and drawing an ejection.
The Hawkeyes then used just six plays to cover 80 yards, with the big playing being a 33-yard Beathard pass to VandeBerg at the Miami 18. Daniels finished the journey on a one-yard run.
The Hawkeyes came calling again after Miami fumbled deep in its own territory. Wadley ran 11 yards for the TD and Iowa went up 14-0.
The RedHawks pulled out some of their own lighting when Bahl hit Williams on a 67-yard pass play to the Iowa eight. However, Anthony Nelson sacked Bahl on the very next play, and Matt Nelson recovered.
Once again, it took Iowa just two plays to reach paydirt, this time covering 81 yards. Beathart hit Jerminic Smith for 38 yards on the first play and Daniels broke off a 43-yard TD run on the next snap.
MU got on the board early in the second quarter when Smith capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a three-yard TD run off left tackle.
That seemed to steady the RedHawks ship a little bit, and there was just one more score in the period. Wadley tallied on a 5-yard jaunt at 7:15.
Miami’s best scoring opportunity before intermission was a nine-play drive that ended with Samuel Sloman’s 53-yard field goal attempt. It had the distance, but was just wide right.
Both teams score on their first possession of the second half. Bethard hit Smith for a 12-yard score at 12:37 to put Iowa up, 35-7. Miami then responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Gardner’s leaping grab finished the trip and he provided another score at the other end on Miami’s next possession.
The RedHawks had fought back to a 35-21 deficit with 9:43 remaining. Iowa managed to somewhat stem the tide with a nine-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in Keith Duncan’s 22-yard field goal to put the hosts up 17 at 38-21. Following another sack and fumble by Miami, the Hawkeyes added a final touchdown at 5:06.
Miami returns home next Saturday, Sept. 10 to host Eastern Illinois.