Final: Hawkeyes beat Northern Iowa, 31-23

Sam Louwagie, KCRG-TV9 Sports

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa football team beat Northern Iowa, 31-23, in Kinnick Stadium today. 

The Hawkeyes were struggling to put Northern Iowa away, clinging to a one-point lead in the fourth quarter, when finally they pulled out a few big plays. After a game filled mostly with short runs and check-down throws, Rudock and the Iowa offense targeted its trio of fleet-footed receivers on a key fourth-quarter possession. 

First Rudock threw downfield to Tevaun Smith, who drew a pass-interference penalty on Northern Iowa. 

Shortly after that, Rudock lofted a 46-yard strike to receiver Derrick Willies, who made a falling, fingertip catch inside the 15-yard line. And finally, Iowa threw a bubble screen to Damond Powell, who made his way through traffic for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Hawkeyes breathing room. 

The Hawkeyes immediately forced a three-and-out, and a game that had been on upset alert was back in Iowa's control. 

Iowa was helped in a big way by Northern Iowa penalties. The Panthers committed 16 penalties for a total of 128 yards. 

Junior receiver Tevaun Smith made some big plays in the second half. He ripped off a weaving, field-crossing 35-yard run on a reverse handoff, and then made a circus one-handed catch in the end zone shortly after. His drawn pass-interference penalty also helped Iowa gain some momentum on its final scoring drive. 

Rudock threw the ball 40 times, completing 30 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. 

Panther running back David Johnson hurt Iowa, as UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen found him wide open in the middle of the field a handful of times on the way to 4 catches for 199 receiving yards. 

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