IOWA CITY, Iowa – Dan McCarney returned to the scene of some of his greatest victories as a college head coach on Saturday, but Kinnick Stadium wasn’t as hospitable this time.
Jordan Canzeri and the Iowa Hawkeyes made sure of that in convincing fashion.
Iowa’s senior running back scored a career-high four touchdowns and rushed for 115 yards to lead the Hawkeyes to a 62-16 victory over McCarney’s North Texas squad. Saturday’s victory marked the first time that Iowa has scored at least 60 points in a game since 2002 when the Hawkeyes pounded Northwestern 62-10 at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2009 and for just the fourth time in 17 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes will put their undefeated record on the line next Saturday in the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.
"Certainly, we’re very pleased with our football team," Ferentz said. "It was a another very positive step forward for our team. And to finish September 4-0 we’re really pleased about that. I think the guys have worked hard certainly week in and week out and they showed up ready to play. I’m just really pleased about finishing this month in a strong fashion, and we’ll turn our sites to Big Ten play when we get going here tomorrow."
Canzeri is the sixth Hawkeye to rush for at least four touchdowns in a single game. Shonn Greene was the last to do it in 2008 against Wisconsin. Greene would go on to win the Doak Walker Award that season.
Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard had another solid performance for Iowa, passing for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Beathard completed his first 15 passes and didn’t throw an incompletion until the third quarter. He completed 18-of-21 passes overall with no interceptions before being replaced by backup Tyler Wiegers early in the fourth quarter.
Saturday’s game was a homecoming for McCarney, who grew up in Iowa City, played football for the Hawkeyes and was an Iowa assistant coach from 1979-89 under Hayden Fry. McCarney also was the head coach at Iowa State for 12 seasons from 1995-06. He led the Cyclones to victories over Iowa at Kinnick Stadium in 1998, 2000 and 2002.
Former Iowa defensive linemen Mark Bortz, Jim Pekar and Pat Dean served as honorary captains for Saturday’s game, which was played before an announced attendance of 56,041. McCarney coached the Iowa defensive line from 1979-89 under Hayden Fry and was the position coach for all three honorary captains.
"I got a chance to say hi to them before we came out for the pre-game warm-up," McCarney said.
Iowa established its dominance early on Saturday, driving 70 yards on seven plays for a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. Canzeri capped the drive by scoring on an 11-yard run with 11 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first quarter. He carried four times on the drive for 55 yards, his longest run covering 29 yards on the second play from scrimmage.
Iowa only needed two plays to score its second touchdown after Desmond King had returned a punt 38 yards to the North Texas 26-yard line.
Beathard completed a 16-yard pass to senior Jacob Hillyer on first down. Canzeri then blasted through a huge hole and scored his second touchdown on a 10-yard run with 5:56 left in the first quarter. Marshall Koehn converted the point-after kick, expanding Iowa’s lead to 14-0.
Iowa was driving near midfield late in the first quarter when North Texas recovered a fumble by Canzeri at the Hawkeye 37.
The Mean Green drove to the Iowa 21, but had to settle for a 38-yard field by Erik Kenna that trimmed the deficit to 14-3 with 13:17 left before halftime.
King also helped to set up Iowa’s third touchdown by returning a kick 40 yards to the Iowa 41. The Hawkeyes only needed three plays to score as Beathard connected with a wide open George Kittle for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 12:12 left in the second quarter.
Beathard showed off his arm strength on Iowa’s next possession, hitting senior receiver Tevaun Smith in stride for an 81-yard touchdown pass.
Canzeri scored his third touchdown in the first half on a 3-yard run with 1:56 left in the second quarter. His touchdown capped an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive and expanded Iowa’s lead to 35-13 with Koehn’s point-after kick.
Koehn missed his first point-after kick as a Hawkeye in the fourth quarter after linebacker Josey Jewell had returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown. Iowa had made 185 consecutive PAT kicks as a team, including 55 in a row by Koehn before Saturday’s miss.
Reserve linebacker Bo Bower also had a pick-six for Iowa that late in the fourth quarter that covered 88 yards and expanded the lead to 62-16 with 2:47 left to play.
Leading 48-16 after three quarters, the Iowa starters watched the fourth quarter from the bench.
"It was the longest game ever today it felt like," said senior center Austin Blythe. "But it’s nice getting some younger guys some experience. And I think that’s going to pay off for us in the long run."
Saturday’s game was also a homecoming for North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty, who graduated from Iowa City High School. McNulty completed 14-of-36 passes for 137 yards and one interception before being replaced in the fourth quarter.