Hawkeyes drop the ball

Zac Reicks

Victory slipped through their hands twice on Saturday.

The first time it was senior receiver and return man Kahlil Hill; the second time it was linebacker Grant Steen. Both turnovers proved costly.

The Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes 17-14 on a windy, wet day at Jack Trice Stadium. A record 51,042 screaming fans witnessed two teams that ironically had their fates settled by a reversal of special team fortunes.

Throughout the season, Iowa has been paced by its explosive return man Hill, along with steady punting and placekicking. On the other hand, the Cyclones kicking game with Tony Yelk had been shaky.

It was Yelk however, who eventually made the game winning 32-yard field goal while Hill muffed a punt, Nick Kaeding slipped and shanked a 55-yard attempt and punter David Bradley put on a lackluster performance.

With more than two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Iowa was set for excellent field position when Yelk and the Cyclones were forced to punt.

Hill ran up to field it, had the ball bounce off his foot, and hit it to the turf with his hand where a hustling Ellis Hobbs pounced on it for the Cyclones and put them in business at the Hawkeye 36-yard line.

“It wasn’t a good decision on my part,” Hill said. “It died in the wind and I thought it hit my foot, so I just went after it.”

With the ball dancing in the wind, the veteran return man knew it was dangerous.

“I was running quick toward it, and it dipped like a curveball,” Hill said. “I should have just got away from it.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz also recognized the importance of the play that enabled Iowa State to score its second touchdown of the game before the half.

“The play in the first half was really costly,” Ferentz said. “We were a little bit tentative and indecisive fielding the punt. It was a big momentum swing from a field position and points standpoint.”

Ferentz also had to answer for his decision to have Kaeding attempt a 55-yard field goal on slippery field conditions. Even with the wind at his back, Kaeding had no chance at all when his left foot slipped and left the sophomore flat on his back.

“Our first field goal was not a thing of beauty,” Ferentz said. “It was probably my fault for taking a shot like that. It was probably too far away.”

“The wind was at my back,” Kaeding said. “I just slipped.”

In the end, the chance for Iowa to take back state bragging rights just slipped away.