Cooper DeJean’s 70-yard punt return with less than four minutes to play helped give Iowa a 26-16 win over Michigan State on Saturday night.
Iowa’s Ethan Hurkett recovered a fumble by Michigan State wide receiver Tre Mosley on the Spartans’ next possession to help clinch the win for the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten), who lost starting quarterback Cade McNamara to a left leg injury in the first quarter.
With the score tied at 16, DeJean fielded Ryan Eckley’s punt near the center of the field and immediately cut to the left sideline, where he shook off three Michigan State tacklers before heading down the sideline for the touchdown with 3:45 to play.
Backup quarterback Deacon Hill threw for 115 yards after taking over for McNamara, who was injured scrambling out of the end zone on the second play of Iowa’s second drive of the game.
McNamara, who missed most of last season at Michigan with a right knee injury, fell at Iowa’s 2-yard line, and was helped from the field, favoring his left leg.
Hill threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Erick All in the first half. Drew Stevens had four field goals for Iowa, including a 34-yarder with 59 seconds left to play for the final margin.
Cal Haladay returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown, and Jonathan Kim kicked three field goals for the Spartans (2-3, 0-2), who were playing their first game since head coach Mel Tucker was fired on Wednesday.
Michigan State’s Nathan Carter rushed for 108 yards.
Michigan State: The events of the week didn’t seem to bother the Spartans, who were effective with a short passing attack on offense early in the game while taking advantage of Iowa’s inability to move the ball. But the Spartans didn’t provide much of a threat for Iowa’s defense in the second half.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes had high hopes for an offensive revival when McNamara transferred in during the offseason, but they’ll have to look to an inexperienced Hill to lead the offense if McNamara’s injury is serious.
Michigan State: At Rutgers on October 14.
Iowa: Hosts Purdue next Saturday.