This was a new way to lose.
Iowa managed to blow an eight-point lead in the final two minutes Saturday to lose 32-31 to Central Michigan at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa held a 31-23 lead with 2:18 left, only to see it slip away, as Central Michigan scored a touchdown, failed on a two-point conversion and kicked a game-winning, 47-yard field goal, all in the final minute.
Iowa's offense started well, scoring on its opening drive on a touchdown pass from James Vandenberg to Kevonte Martin-Manley. But Central Michigan came right back, scoring on its first possession to tie the score. That marked the third game in which the Iowa defense has failed to keep the opposing team out of the end zone on its first drive.
The defense did show resilience, however, when Iowa fullback Mark Weisman lost a fumble deep in Iowa territory. It made a stand, forcing CMU to settle for a field goal. Later in the half, Iowa had a blown coverage in the secondary and surrendered another touchdown pass that gave Central Michigan a 23-14 lead at the half.
Despite his lost fumble, Weisman, a sophomore, was fantastic again, rushing 27 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came on a 34-yard run on an important 4th-and-1 play in the first quarter. He also scored on a bruising 12-yard run with 2:18 left to give the Hawkeyes the 31-23 lead.
The defense quickly surrendered points, however. Central Michigan scored with 45 seconds left to cut the Iowa lead to two, only to see defensive back Micah Hyde make a nice play on the ball to spoil the two-point attempt.
This led to a controversial onside-kick fiasco.
Central Michigan had the ball blow off the tee twice, which required a holder to spot the ball for kicker. This led to a delay-of-game penalty on the first attempt, which invalidated Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz's recovery of the onside kick.
The ball was moved back five yards and Central Michigan tried a second onside kick. This seemed to confuse the Hawkeyes, as the second kick traveled the necessary 10 yards and was easily recovered by a Central Michigan player.
The Chippewas then were helped by a costly personal foul penalty by Iowa's Joe Gaglione with under 40 seconds left. It gave Central Michigan a crucial 15 yards and moved it into Iowa territory.
Three plays later, Central Michigan's David Harman connected on the game-winning field goal.
Iowa's lack of execution on defense and special teams in the final minutes is what ultimately lost this game for the Hawkeyes. It was certainly not the offense, nor was it the officiating.
Nine penalties for 106 yards. That is what did in the Hawkeyes. Seemingly all of these penalties, except perhaps a questionable pass interference call in the first quarter, appeared to be the correct call.
Weisman looked great. Martin-Manley also looked like a legitimate big-play receiver. Vandenberg had his best game of the season from the standpoint of game management, and yet, the Hawkeyes still lost at home to a MAC school.
The Hawkeyes are now 2-2 heading into Big Ten play next week at home against Minnesota. The Gophers have beaten the Hawkeyes each of the last two seasons in Minneapolis.
Whether the Big Ten is "down" or not this season, 2-2 in the non-conference with losses coming to Iowa State and Central Michigan is not a great way for the Hawks to head into the Big Ten.
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