IOWA CITY — Iowa sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson spoke to reporters with a big gash under his lip Saturday night.
The wound was the result of a hard-fought football game between instate rivals.
For Hockenson, the bloody gash was just what Iowa football is about. And the defense held Iowa State’s high powered offense to three points during a 13-3 victory at a sold out Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
“This is a special game for all of us, and it feels good to come out with a win,” Hockenson said. “They came out swinging, but we were able to grind each and every play and were able to come out with a victory.”
Hockenson was one of a few bright spots for the Iowa offense, which won the game despite gaining only 271 yards on 64 plays. The Chariton native finished with a team-high and career-high six catches for 33 yards.
The game was won in the trenches. Iowa’s offensive line paved the way for another 100-yard rushing game. In the last 31 games under Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes are 30-1 when they rush for at least 100 yards.
Sophomore Toren Young finished with 68 yards on 21 carries. The Hawkeyes rushed for 105 in the game. And junior quarterback Nate Stanley was not sacked.
On the flip side, Iowa’s defense collected four sacks and held Cyclone standout David Montgomery to 44 rushing yards. Iowa State had 19 rushing yards in the loss.
“The reality of it is, at the line of scrimmage, where most football games are still won in this sport, they dominated us,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ability to respond.”
Iowa State scored first in the game. The Cyclones (0-1) gained 66 yards on their opening drive but had to settle for a field goal. They had fourth and goal from the 1-yard line but a false start pushed them back to the 6.
That was all the offense Iowa State could muster. They only gained 120 yards on its next 10 possessions and turned it over once late in the game.
“They were moving the ball and clicking on all cylinders. But we relaxed and didn’t let that drive bother us,” Iowa senior defensive end Parker Hesse said of the Cyclones’ first drive. “We don’t want to let any team get into the red zone, but if we do we always want to give up a field goal and not a touchdown and that’s what we were able to do.”
The game was tied at 3-all at halftime. Senior Miguel Recinos booted a 31-yard field goal to tie it but missed a field-goal attempt earlier in the half. He was 2-for-4 on the day, adding a 48-yarder in the third quarter to put Iowa up 6-3.
The only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. Iowa went up double-digits after a 13-play, 83-yard drive that took up 6:30 on the clock.
Sophomore Brandon Smith hauled in a 30-yard reception on third and long to keep the drive alive.
Before that, Newton’s Nick Easley caught his first pass of the season, a 15-yarder on second and 16.
Sophomore Mekhi Sargent capped the long drive with a 2-yard TD run. It was Sargent’s first TD at Iowa.
Iowa converted three third downs on the drive alone. The Hawkeyes only picked up three third downs the rest of the game.
“Unfortunately, there was a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff today. This game is in the past now. We need to move on to the next game,” Iowa State junior linebacker Marcel Spears said. “We need to grow from our mistakes. We have to continue to play together. We can’t worry about the what if stuff. We have to have a short memory.”
Iowa’s seniors went 4-0 in the Cy-Hawk game. Iowa holds a 44-22 advantage all-time. The Hawkeyes have won five of the past six and eight of the past 11 games against the Cyclones.
“We’re thrilled to get the victory. It was hard-fought, and that’s going to help us down the road,” Ferentz said.
Iowa sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa had a career-high two sacks. He forced a fumble on the only turnover of the game when he sacked sophomore Zeb Noland late in the game. Senior Matt Nelson and sophomore Nick Niemann also had sacks.
“They stuck it to us last year. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again,” Nelson said. “Whenever you can bring a trophy home it’s special, especially when the win comes against Iowa State.”
Noland was in the game because senior starter Kyle Kempt left the game early in the second half with a knee injury. Campbell didn’t know the extent of the injury after the game.
“I don’t think it’s season ending,” Campbell said when asked about Kempt. “I can’t tell you what the extent of it is except that it’s an MCL injury. We have been here before. If Zeb has to start for us, our team is confident in him.”
Kempt finished 15-of-21 for 126 yards. Noland was 4-of-10 for 43 yards. Hakeem Butler had three catches for 35 yards, all in the second half, to lead the receivers.
When Iowa’s defensive line wasn’t getting pressure on Kempt or Noland, it was forcing penalties on the Cyclones’ offensive line. Iowa State was called for seven penalties, most of which were 10-yard holding infractions.
“We never got into any kind of flow and then when we did we self destructed somewhere,” Campbell said. “Most of that self destruction came up front on the offensive line. We have to get things fixed. We have to get better.”
Iowa won last year’s Cy-Hawk football game 44-41 in overtime. This year’s edition of the annual rivalry game was much different.
The two teams combined for 25 first downs. Iowa State was 4-for-14 on third down and Iowa was 6-of-17.
Iowa sophomore cornerback Matt Hankins and senior linebacker Jack Hockaday each had eight tackles. Niemann added seven tackles and a sack and junior safety Amani Hooker had seven tackles.
Iowa State freshman linebacker Mike Rose led all tacklers with 11. Senior linebacker Willie Harvey had nine tackles, and senior D’Andre Payne and Spears each had seven tackles.
Iowa’s defense has nine sacks in the first two games and the starters have only allowed three points.
Iowa State has scored just six points in its last two trips to Kinnick Stadium.
“We had real focus,” Hankins said. “Our biggest priority was stopping the run. Montgomery ran all over us last year. We did a better job today. We got 11 hats to the ball.”
Iowa State hosts Oklahoma for its Big 12 Conference opener at 11 a.m. Saturday. Iowa plays its third straight home game when it hosts instate foe Northern Iowa at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.