Jacksonville Sports Day

Bonts: Iowa Holds Off No. 18 Bulldogs, 27-22, in Outback Bowl

TAMPA – The University of Iowa scored 17 points off three Mississippi State turnovers, sending Iowa to a 27-22 win in the Outback Bowl over the 18th-ranked Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

It is Iowa’s first victory over a ranked opponent this season.

Iowas QB Nate Stanley connected with Outback Bowl Most Valuable Player Nick Easley for two scores and Ihmir Smith-Marsette on a 15 yard TD pass pass.

Easley’s second of the game gave the Hawkeyes a 24-19 third-quarter lead.

“We came into this game, knowing Mississippi State was a tough, talented, and veteran team. They have been that way since the start of the season. We knew this would be a tough, hard fought game and it would take our best effort. That’s what it boiled down to,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

Mississippi State scored two touchdowns in the span of 18 seconds in the third quarter to take a 19-17 lead.

The Bulldogs’ Willie Gay, Jr., intercepted Stanley at the MSU 46 and returned it 46 yard to the Iowa 6.  QB Nick Fitzgerald’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Kylin Hill made the score 17-12.

The Iowa’s defense set up a go-ahead touchdown when junior Anthony Nelson tipped a Fitzgerald screen pass attempt at the line of scrimmage and junior Chauncey Golston went up and got the interception, giving Iowa possession at the Mississippi State 20.

“From our perspective there was too many things and too many missed opportunities throughout the course of the game that we didn’t capitalize on, too many penalties; and I believe it was eight for us, and second time this year that the opposition didn’t have one called on them,” noted MSU head coach Joe Moorhead. “But that that didn’t have a factor on the game. Can’t turn the ball over. Can’t give up explosive plays. Got to score touchdowns and can’t have penalties take plays off the board.”

MSU’s Jace Christmann’s 20-yard field goal cut the deficit to 24-22. Christmann connected from 44 and 42 yards in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs (8-5) held the Hawkeyes (9-4) to under 200 yards of total offense, including -15 yards rushing.

Fitzgerald, in his final game as a Bulldog, totaled 255 yards of total offense, passing for 152 while gaining 103 on the ground. That performance marked the 21st time he had run for over 100 yards.

A 40-yard kick by Miguel Recinos extended the Hawkeyes’ lead to 27-22 with 5:51 left. He opened the Iowa scoring with a 44-yarder in the second quarter.

State regained possession with 2:22 left, having to go 68 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown but with no timeouts remaining. Fitzgerald led the MSU offense into Hawkeye territory, reaching the Iowa 37.

However, the nine-play drive ended on an incomplete fourth-down pass with 25 seconds left, turning the ball over on downs, and Iowa took a knee to secure the victory.

OUTBACK NOTES: Iowa improved to 8-8 in bowl games since 2001. Only Ohio State (9) and Wisconsin (9) have more bowl wins among Big Ten teams since 2001. The Hawkeyes are 16-15-1 in the program’s 32 bowl appearances…. today’s attendance was 40,518..Iowa did not commit a penalty.

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