Still a Hawkeye state: Defense dominates to give Hawkeyes sixth straight Cy-Hawk Trophy

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Walking off the field at Jack Trice Stadium Jestin Jacobs threw up six fingers. One for each consecutive win the Hawkeyes have over the Cyclones.

“The emotions come out, six comes up.” Jacobs said of Saturday’s win. “Just to get the win in hostile territory. It just fills you with emotion. You’re happy to see your teammates happy, happy to see your coaches happy.”

A fitting reaction for a win with the defense’s fingerprints all over it. They forced four more turnovers, giving them eight on the season. They also scored another touchdown. The Hawkeyes defense has scored 21 points on the season, while giving up just 23.

“Every day we come into practice, setting the standard of four turnovers a day,” said senior corner Matt Hankins. “We hit that goal today.”

It was the defense that kept the team in the game while the offense found it’s footing. After scoring no points in the first quarter, the offense came alive in the second.

“It’s an offense’s dream scenario,” junior quarterback Spencer Petras said of the defense. “It’s a great thing for a our offense, if we come up short on a drive or whatever it may be, they’ll have our back.”

It was Tyler Goodson that opened up the scoring for the Hawkeyes with a four-yard run. But it was Hankins and the defense, who set up the opportunity with a juggling interception of Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. It was one of two interceptions for Hankins on the day. The defense had three in total. Purdy would eventually leave the game.

“You can feel the momentum shift,” Hankins said of the team’s forced turnovers. “The offense comes over and says ‘were going to out it in.’ You can definitely feel the energy changing.”

It looked like the Cyclones might sneak back in the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive right before halftime to make it 14-10.

“Obviously that can’t happen,” junior linebacker Jack Campbell said. “We talk about it as a defense. We made the adjustments, we talked about what went wrong. We knew they were going to come out swinging in the second half and we knew we had to do that as well.”

They sure did, shutting the door and flipping the game on it’s head with a huge scoop and score forced by Jestin and picked up by Campbell.

“I was just trying to focus on my responsibility, not letting the ball get outside of me,” Jacobs said. “It just happened the ball came to me, I got my arms around him. Next thing I know, I’m trying to get up, I look to the right and Jack is scooping and scoring.”

Sophomore punter Tory Taylor also had a big hand in the victory. He had eight punts, averaging 51 yards per punt, including a 69-yarder. Several of those punts forced the Cyclones to start from inside their own five yard line.

“When you can affect field position through the kicking game, it gives you a really good chance, especially if you have a defense that’s opportunistic,” Moon Family Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a really good combination.”

Overall the Hawkeyes were outgained 339 yards to 173, which was partially due to how the Hawkeyes decided to play offensively in the second half. But they played a clean game with no turnovers.

There were a lot of questions about how this team would fare with a brutal two game stretch against two veteran, ranked opponents to start the year. Those have certainly been answered.

“The best we could be was 2-0 and I’m super proud of this team so far,” Petras said. “But we’re nowhere near fulfilling our full potential by any means, on either side of the ball. So as good as it feels to be 2-0, it doesn’t mean anything. We got to keep chopping away.”

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