Second-half safeties lead Iowa past South Dakota State 7-3 in offensively inept game

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa State’s defense produced two safetys in the second half, and the Hawkeyes opened the season with a 7-3 win over South Dakota State on Saturday.

Neither team can do much offensively. Iowa finished with 166 yards and South Dakota had 120. The two teams combined have more punts (21) than starters (16).

“Obviously a very unusual score line,” Iowa State coach Kirk Ferenc said. “You have three (in the first quarter), two (in the third), two in the fourth. I’ve never been in a game like this. But we’ll take it today.”

Iowa ranked seventh in the nation with four defensive touchdowns last season, so the Hawkeyes are used to scoring from that side of the ball. They needed them on a day when the offense was in trouble.

“The standard has been set,” said linebacker Jack Campbell, who recorded one of the safeties and completed 12 tackles.

The first safety came after Iowa’s Tory Taylor was knocked down at the South Dakota 1-yard line in the third quarter. A game later, Campbell caught Isaiah Davis’ running back after a catch, taking him just one yard from the end zone.

The second safety came in the fourth quarter when Iowa State’s Joe Evans fired quarterback Mark Gronowski in Game 2 and 11.

“We’re trying to score as many points as we can on the defensive end, but we can,” Iowa safety Quinn Schulte said.

For most of the game, the Hawkeyes kept South Dakota on their territory. Taylor’s 10 punts were shot down within the Jackrabbits’ 20-yard line, 1 at 2 yards and 1 at 1.

“The Conservatives have done a great job,” Ferencz said. “I wonder if I’ve ever seen a punter who is so committed to the game.”

Taylor averaged 47.9 yards per kick.

“The field position was really tough for us,” South Dakota coach John Stiegelmeier said. “It’s hard to go out there and mentally think we have to fight this defense for 98 yards.”

Iowa State led 3-0 on Aaron Blom’s 46-yard field goal in the first quarter. South Dakota’s only score came from Hunter Dustman’s 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds left.

Iowa State quarterback Spencer Petras completed 11 of 25 passes for 109 yards. Leshon Williams had 72 rushing yards.

Gronowski was 10 of 26 for 87 yards. Davis had 18 carries for 50 yards.

Injury report

Iowa is without three offensive starters — wide receivers Keegan Johnson and Nicola Gainey, and running back Gavin Williams. All three missed preseason training camp due to undisclosed injuries. Starting linebacker Justin Jacobs left the game with an injury in the second quarter and did not return.

South Dakota tight end Tucker Craft, who last season with the Associated Press FCS All-American Second Team, was injured after receiving the ball in the first quarter and did not return.


Despite a 10-win season, Iowa State had one of the worst offenses in the nation last year, ranking 99th in offensive points and 121st in total offense. Petras’ struggles have resulted in plenty of boos from the sold-out crowd at Kinnick Stadium, and Ferenc will have plenty of questions to answer as in-state rival Iowa arrives next Saturday.

“I still have confidence in him,” Ferenc said. “I think it’s probably a lot louder outside than inside.”

South Dakota, which has been trailing 2-10 against FBS teams, struggled to shift the ball to one of the best defenses in the nation last season against Iowa’s defense.


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