Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s offense goes flat in loss to Northwestern

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By Pete Ruden

peter-ruden@uiowa.edu

EVANSTON, Illinois — Ryan Field could have served as Kinnick Stadium on Saturday judging by the number of Hawkeye fans who made the trip to watch Iowa take on Northwestern

However, those fans went home upset after the Wildcats stole the momentum in the second half on their way to picking up a 17-10 overtime victory.

Despite facing a third and 9, Northwestern found its way into the end zone after Justin Jackson took the ball down to the 1-yard line by taking advantage of confusion in the Iowa defense.

The Wildcats went on to punch it in on a Clayton Thorson quarterback sneak.

The Hawkeyes tried to answer on a fourth and 3 by running the same play Noah Fant scored their lone touchdown on, but it was unsuccessful — Fant dropped what would have been a sure first down.

“It’s crazy how that works,” he said. “One play can be a touchdown, the other one can be a dropped pass for the game. I just have to work with it and be consistent with it. I can’t have any more dropped balls.”

Fant’s miscue wasn’t the only reason the Wildcats took control of the game, though.

After going three and out to start the third quarter, Northwestern rallied, marching down the field for its first score of the game on a 6-yard Jeremy Larkin run.

But the key moment of the drive wasn’t the touchdown. It came when Iowa had the Wildcats on the ropes at third and 15.

However, Thorson made magic happen, scrambling 21 yards to give Northwestern’s previously struggling offense new life.

The third-down conversion, as well as the score, took the wind out of Iowa’s sails, and the offense simply could not move the ball. The Wildcats held Iowa to just 14 yards of total offense in the third quarter, while they racked up 133.

The absences of Josey Jewell and Brandon Snyder certainly affected the Hawkeye defense, especially when Northwestern gained the momentum in the second half.

Ben Niemann shifted to middle linebacker and Kevin Ward played at outside, while Jake Gervase started in place of Snyder.

The loss of Jewell, the Big Ten’s leading tackler was huge, and the defense missed his physicality, especially in crunch time.

“He’s a competitive guy, and I know he would’ve loved to be out there,” Niemann said. “He was involved on the sideline and giving me help and the other guys. He wasn’t on the field, but he still helped as much as he could.”

In the first half, things were going just fine for the Hawkeyes. Akrum Wadley recorded 48 yards on the ground in just the first quarter, while Nate Stanley had 75 yards through the air.

The problem was Iowa seemed as if it didn’t want to score. In the first half, it had 238 yards of total offense but only managed to put 7 points on the board.

Northwestern took advantage of the sluggish offense in the second half, out-gaining the Hawkeyes 232 yards to just 74.

“Northwestern competed real hard. Credit goes to them; they were good enough to get it done there in overtime,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Lot of swings during the game. A lot of little things that add up and make a difference.”

Click below for more photos
A Northwestern fan holds a sign during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern defensive lineman Samdup Miller blocks a pass during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley runs with the ball during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley runs during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa's offensive line gets ready to snap the ball during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos kicks during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern slotback Garrett Dickerson gets tackled by Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson throws a pass during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern offensive lineman Brad North celebrates during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson runs with the ball during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg gets tackled by Northwestern defensive back Alonzo Mayo during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern safety Jared McGee during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa and Northwestern team captains watch the coin toss during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa defensive back Jake Gervase tackles Northwestern running back Justin Jackson during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern running back Justin Jackson gets tackled by Iowa's Bo Bower and Garret Jansen during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern scores a touchdown in overtime during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 17-10, in overtime. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa tight end Noah Fant (87) steps into the end zone for Iowa's first and only touchdown during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg (89) is tackled by Northwestern's Alonzo Mayo (12) during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (4) throws the ball during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Members of the Iowa offense and Northwestern defense square off at the line of scrimmage during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg (89) attempts to catch a pass during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. In pursuit is Northwestern's Alonzo Mayo (12). The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg (89) is tackled after making a catch during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A member of the Northwestern coaching staff cheers as Northwestern converts on third down during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald stands on the sideline during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Sam Brincks (90), Ben Niemann (44), and Bo Bower (41) walk off the field during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern running back Justin Jackson (21) runs the ball into offensive lineman Brad North (69) during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson (38) attempts to make a diving catch during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley (25) stumbles over members of the Northwestern defense during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern wide receiver Bennett Skowronek (88) is tackled by two members of the Iowa defense during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Members of the Northwestern defense celebrate during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley (25) misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley (4) during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa fan stands with his hands on his head in the stands of Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. during the game between Iowa and Northwestern on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Nick Easley (84) catches a pass during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. In pursuit is Northwestern's Alonzo Mayo (12). The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern place kicker Charlie Kuhbander (14) kicks a field goal during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann (44) signals a fumble recovery during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa State Trooper stands on the sideline during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern fans hold a sign in support of running back Justin Jackson (21) during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa State Trooper stands on the sideline during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A merchant at Ryan Field makes Northwestern t-shirts during the game between Iowa and Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A member of the press stands in the press box during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Miles Taylor (19) celebrates a touchdown by the Hawkeyes during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa State Trooper stands on the sidelines of Ryan Field during the game between Iowa and Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern hosted Iowa at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan talks to players on the sideline during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Members of the Iowa football team stand on the sideline during the national anthem before the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern celebrates victory over the Hawkeyes during the game at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa attempts to convert on fourth down during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A referee signals a touchdown by Northwestern during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Northwestern running back Justin Jackson (21) is tackled shy of the end zone during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A member of the Iowa coaching staff fires up his players during overtime of the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's captains Josey Jewell (43), Matt VandeBerg (89), Sean Welsh (79), and Kevin Ward (26) during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 17-10 in overtime. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

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