AMES, Iowa — Iowa ran the football down Iowa State's throat for most of the night.
But a bit of misdirection called by Hawkeye left tackle Brandon Scherff was his favorite play of the night. Knowing receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley would outrace him to the Cy-Hawk Trophy, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Scherff cooked up a devious scheme.
“We just said we were going to race,'' Scherff said. “We sent Kevonte in the wrong direction. He went off a little left and we went straight.''
With Martin-Manley veering off course, Scherff reached the trophy first. It was fitting because Iowa's offensive line set the tone for its bruising 27-21 victory in the intrastate series Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
After losing two straight and nine of the last 15 to the Cyclones (0-2), Iowa (2-1) relished its victory — and trophy — before a sellout crowd of 56,800.
“We haven't seen it in two years, and they don't give them away,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You've got to earn it, and the guys did a great job.''
Junior Mark Weisman carried 35 times for 145 yards, as Iowa used a no-nonsense offense to churn out 21 first downs on 83 offensive plays and keep possession for 38 minutes.
“We love when our number’s called,’’ said Scherff, from Denison, Iowa. “We love hitting people, and we’re trying to be the most physical unit on the field.’’
Iowa appeared to drive the nail into the coffin with a 15-play, 73-yard touchdown drive capped by Jake Rudock’s 1-yard sneak that melted 7:38 off the clock and left the Hawkeyes with a 27-7 lead with 7:05 remaining. Iowa ran the ball on 14 of those 15 plays.
“In case you didn’t recognize it, that was two tight ends, two backs and old-fashioned football out there,’’ Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
Iowa State made things interesting as Sam Richardson hit Quenton Bundrage for a 26-yard touchdown with 4:27 left. Walter Woods III then recovered an onside kick for the Cyclones, and Bundrage caught his third touchdown pass from Richardson, a 17-yarder to pull the hosts within 27-21 with 2:26 left.
After an unsuccessful onside kick, Iowa State eventually forced an Iowa punt, but only seven seconds remained when it took over on its 13, and a desperation play fell short.
“I’m pleased with how our football team played the game until the end,’’ Rhoads said. “There were some very dark spots, and we were down by a lot of points. They could have folded and let this game turn into a rout, but we played until the final play.’’
Iowa State trailed 13-0 in the first half and managed just 61 yards to Iowa’s 186. But the Cyclones found life late in the third. Richardson hit Bundrage on a deep curl, and he shook free from B.J. Lowery’s grasp and outraced everyone for a 67-yard touchdown to get the Cyclones within 13-7 at the 5:28 mark.
But Jordan Cotton’s 28-yard kickoff return put Iowa at its 40, and the Hawkeyes were 3 for 3 on third down on a 60-yard touchdown drive. Weisman ran for 3 on third-and-1, and then Rudock converted a pair of third-and-8s, hitting Martin-Manley for 18 and then Jacob Hillyer for a 26-yard score to make it 20-7. Hillyer beat Jansen Watson on a comeback route, then sidestepped him before completing the touchdown.
Iowa followed that with its 73-yard march that pushed it to 27-7, before Iowa State tallied its two late scores.
Iowa State managed just four first downs in the first half, which included three three-and-outs. The Cyclones ran for 10 yards, and Richardson was 10 of 18 for 51 yards and an interception.
“We made way too many mistakes to win a game like this,’’ Rhoads said.
The Hawkeyes were content to move the chains and eat the clock with power football in the first half, running Weisman on numerous base plays off tackle against the smaller ISU defensive line.
“You could see it in his eyes,’’ Rudock said of Weisman. “Like, keep giving it to me.’’
The Hawkeyes scored the first half’s lone touchdown on a 10-play, 71-yard drive bridging the first-quarter break. The big play was Rudock’s 25-yard connection with Tevaun Smith on a crossing route to the 2. Two plays later, Rudock hit Martin-Manley for a 5-yard score.
Iowa settled for a pair of field goals on a pair of good opportunities for touchdown. Mike Meyer converted from 27 yards, then James Morris’ interception gave the Hawks a first down at the Cyclone 25 with 33 seconds left in the half. But Iowa State held, and Meyer’s 38-yard field goal made it 13-0 at the break.