IOWA CITY, Iowa – By improving to 8-0 on Saturday, the 2015 Iowa football team has gone where only one other Iowa team has gone before.
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes defeated Maryland 31-15 before an announced crowd of 62,667 at Kinnick Stadium.
This marks just the second time that Iowa has started a season with eight consecutive victories. Iowa won its first nine games in 2009 before finishing 11-2 overall.
Maryland was trailing 24-7 and threatening to score midway through the fourth quarter when junior cornerback Desmond King returned an interception 88 yards for a touchdown with 7 minutes, 38 seconds left to play.
It was King’s seventh interception this season. The Detroit native only needs one more interception to tie Iowa’s single-season record of eight, which is held by Lou King (no relation) and Nile Kinnick.
Maryland wasted no time in slicing into the lead, though, as William Likely returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Perry Hills ran around left end for the two-point conversation, trimming Iowa’s lead to 31-15 with 7:26 remaining.
Iowa forced Maryland to punt from deep in its own territory on its next possession. Maryland defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue then was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on first down, giving Iowa a first down at the Maryland 43-yard line with less than four minutes to play.
Maryland forced Iowa to punt, but Iowa punter Dillon Kidd responded by pinning the Terrapins down on their own 3-yard line with 2:56 left to play.
Maryland ran three plays before having to punt again. The punt covered 70 yards to the Iowa 27, but there were less than two minutes to play and the Terrapins didn’t have any timeouts left.
Iowa then ran out the clock to stay undefeated and in control of the Big Ten West Division heading into next Saturday’s game at Indiana.
Iowa only gained 53 yards in the second half and was held to fewer than 300 yards for just the second time this season, finishing with 293 yards on 68 plays.
But the Iowa defense compensated by holding Maryland to 241 yards, including just 74 passing yards.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter, but the Terrapins were threatening to score when the quarter ended.
Maryland finally got on the scoreboard when receiver Taivon Jacobs caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Perry Hills with 14:36 left to play. Iowa was called for two facemask penalties on the drive.
Iowa took the opening kick and drove to Maryland 27-yard line, the key playing being a 19-yard reception by reserve running back Derrick Mitchell Jr. that moved the ball to near midfield.
However, the drive stalled after Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard threw three consecutive incompletions. Iowa then failed to get any points when Marshall Koehn missed a 45-yard field goal attempt. It was Koehn’s second missed field goal in his last three attempts after starting the season 9-for-10.
Maryland moved into Iowa territory on its first possession of the game, but the drive ended when Iowa strong safety Miles Taylor, who is from Silver Spring, Md., recovered a fumble by Maryland running back Brandon Ross at the Iowa 38.
The Hawkeyes then drove 62 yards on seven plays for the game’s first touchdown, which came on a 1-yard run by Daniels with 4:42 left in the first quarter. Daniels carried three times on the drive for 19 yards, while Wadley carried twice for 22 yards.
Beathard also completed a 21-yard pass to senior receiver Tevaun Smith, who was tackled at the Maryland 19. Daniels then had runs of 14 and four yards before scoring from one yard on the next play.
Iowa expanded its lead to 14-0 when sophomore running back Akrum Wadley scored on an 11-yard run and Koehn converted the point-after kick with 8:30 left in the second quarter. Junior receiver Matt VandeBerg sparked the drive with a 23-yard catch that gave Iowa a first-down at the Maryland 35.
The Terrapins also were penalized for pass interference, giving Iowa a first down at the Maryland 15. Wadley scored two plays later.
Mitchell then scored his second touchdown as a Hawkeye on a 2-yard run with just nine seconds left before halftime. Koehn hit the point-after kick, giving Iowa a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Iowa reserve linebacker Aaron Mends helped set up the touchdown by blocking a punt to give Iowa a first-down at the Maryland 19 with 1:01 left before halftime.
Iowa had 240 yards in the first half, including 160 passing yards, while holding the Terrapins to just 68 yards.
Beathard, who improved his record to 9-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback, completed 12-of-23 passes for 183 yards, but he only threw for 23 yards in the second half.
Wadley led Iowa in rushing with 67 yards, followed by Daniels with 60 yards. Daniels saw his first extensive action since the first half against Iowa State on Sept. 12.
Saturday’s game marked the first time that Maryland has played at Kinnick Stadium.