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Huskers swarm Hawks

Register Staff Writer

Iowa City, Ia.- At least it was closer than most people thought. The first half, that is.

Iowa did about as well as it could against fifth-ranked Nebraska on Saturday, considering the offense didn't get the word that classes started two weeks ago.

Finally, though, this lack of movement proved to be too much of a barrier in a 42-7 nonconference football loss in front of a capacity crowd of 70,397 at Kinnick Stadium.

Kirk Ferentz's first victory as the Hawkeyes' coach will have to wait. The next shot comes Saturday night against Iowa State in Ames. Without an offense, it could happen after that, too.

Iowa had 57 yards rushing and 112 yards passing against what usually is one of the top defenses in the nation. Only twice during the dismal season of 1998 was it worse - 159 yards against Michigan and 138 against Wisconsin.

"It's not hopeless," Ferentz said.

"We didn't do much on first down. A lot of times, we were in second-and-long, third-and long situations. That's tough. We have to improve our production on first down," he said.

Right guard Chad Deal was a late scratch because he has a leg injury. He was replaced by inexperienced Andy Lightfoot.

"We missed Chad's experience up front, but Lightfoot stepped up and did a nice job," center A.J. Blazek said.

In this department, it was a team effort. Iowa earned its initial first down with 3½ minutes to play in the second quarter. It reached Nebraska's end of the field for the first time with a minute until halftime.

"We went three-and-out on the first three drives,'' Blazek said. "That's a killer. We have to be able to run the ball. We've got to step up as a unit. It's on our shoulders."

The Hawkeyes left the field trailing after two quarters, 7-0, because the defense played well and Nebraska's offense didn't.

Matt Stockdale intercepted a pass. Anthony Herron had a big sack. LeVar Woods recovered a fumble.

"We were excited, we were pumped and we knew we could play with them," linebacker Aaron Kampman said. "We felt we could come out in the second half and be stronger."

Maybe against somebody else. Not against Nebraska.

Bobby Newcombe and Sean Applegate combined for a 47-yard touchdown on the Cornhuskers' first possession of the third quarter. Newcombe ran 1 yard for a score on the next.

A defense that was on the field nearly 36 of 60 minutes finally was tired and defenseless against one of the strongest and biggest offensive lines in the nation.

"The Iowa defense, as the game progressed, got tired and down," Nebraska running back Dan Alexander said. "We knew eventually we would have them down and back on their heels."

Iowa defensive tackle Jerry Montgomery said the assessment was fairly accurate.

"I don't know about the defense as a whole, but I was worn down by the third quarter," he said. "I was on the field a lot. But that wasn't a reason why we lost."

That can be attributed to Nebraska. Especially the Cornhuskers' defense. The only touchdown by the Iowa offense came when Tim Dodge returned a blocked punt 10 yards for a score with 2½ minutes to play.

Iowa quarterback Kyle McCann was sacked three times. He was on his back numerous other occasions after delivering the ball.

"It was tough to make an evaluation on Kyle," Ferentz said. "He was under duress too many times. When you get hit as many times as he did, it's hard to have any timing."

McCann completed 11 passes for 112 yards against what Ferentz has called one of the top secondaries in the nation.

He threw short. He threw long.

"We took a couple of shots deep and we were real close to hitting them," he said. "If one of them hits, maybe things would have been a little different."

Ladell Betts, Iowa's top rushing threat, gained 73 yards and lost two fumbles.

"It was frustrating not being able to move the ball," he said. "But I was able to find some holes. I think our offensive line held its own."

Many among the crowd probably think otherwise.

"It wasn't too enjoyable and it wasn't a lot of fun," Ferentz said. "We made some mistakes in the first half, but we endured them. I thought we could come out in the second half, move the ball and get something going."

Maybe next time.



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