LINCOLN, Neb. – Parker Hesse received the credit. The Iowa freshman let everyone know he wanted to share it.
Hesse stepped in front of a a first-half pass from Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong and took it into the end zone for a rare Pick-6 from a defensive end. It came with the Hawkeye offense sputtering and the Huskers having just tied the game at 7-7.
It proved to be a key play in a game where No. 4 Iowa won, 28-20, but was out-gained 433 to 250, lost the first-down battle, 22-11, and went 0 for 9 on third downs.
Hesse became the Hawkeyes’ starting right end mid-season when Senior Drew Ott was lost for the campaign following knee surgery. He’s been coaching Hesse and took great pride in seeing his protege come up with a memorable moment in his home state of Nebraska.
“It meant a lot because I know what this game meant to Drew,” Hesse said. “Him being from Nebraska, he wanted this. He wanted us to play and perform. If he was able to today, he would have had a great day. I can tell you that.
“So, it felt good to be able to make a play and come back to the sideline and say, “Hey, I didn’t let you down.””
Iowa sent strong safety Miles Taylor on a blitz. He was pressuring Armstrong up the middle, forcing him to release the ball before he wanted to. Hesse awaited it, put two hands on it and walked untouched into the end zone.
“I just saw the quarterback and he was surprised to see me and just wanted to get rid of it,” Taylor said. “Parker was right there. I was so happy for him.”
Hesse said the defensive coaches saw a chance for the play watching film. It worked to perfection.
“They threw a lot of passes like that today. We were kind of bound to make a play on one,” a modest Hesse said. “It was more or less just the right place at the right time.”
KING BENCHED: Iowa played without the nation’s co-interception leader for Friday’s first quarter. Junior Cornerback Desmond King, who also returns punts and kicks, was suspended for the opening 15 minutes after being late for a team meeting Tuesday, the university announced.
King, who tied Nile Kinnick and Lou King for the single-season school record with eight picks, was replaced in the starting lineup by Maurice Fleming. Riley McCarron handled punt returns and Jonathan Parker was installed to bring back kicks.
King said he lost track of the time causing him to miss the meeting. He said he made a mistake and deserved the punishment.
“It just shows what kind of team we are. It doesn’t matter who you are. We don’t show favoritism. You’re going to have to face the consequences if it’s a team violation,” King said.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said the Hawkeyes moved beyond the incident Tuesday.
“I don’t think it was intentional. I don’t think it was any big deal. There’s consequences for all actions. We have high standards for all of our players. We dealt with it and he payed his price,” Ferentz said.
INJURY REPORT: Starting LEO Linebacker Ben Niemann left the game with what appeared to be a head injury after assisting on a tackle. He was hit by his teammate, middle linebacker Josey Jewell. Bo Bower, who started 13 games at LEO last year, replaced Niemann.
“They pulled (Niemann’s) helmet. He was obviously in a little bit of trouble there initially but we came out at halftime and he was great,” Ferentz said.
ALL-DRESSED UP: Iowa players in uniform Friday at Nebraska.
QB – Beathard, Wiegers, Cook, Boyle
RB – Canzeri, Wadley, Mitchell, Daniels, Cox, Kulick, Plewa.
WR – J. Smith, T. Smith. Vandenberg, Hillyer, Stone, Parker, Mccarran, Falconer.
TE – Krieger-Cobie, Kittle, Duzey, Pekar, Wisnieski.
OL – Render, Simmons, Ward, Walsh, Welsh, Boettger, Myers, Daniels, Ferguson, Blythe, Ferentz, Croston.
DL – Terlouw, Brincks, Gressel, Hesse, Spears, Ekaktie, Johnson, Nelson, Bazata, Meier, Hulett.
LB – Perry, Bower, Jewell, Fisher, Niemann, Mends, Hockaday
DB – King, Jackson, Gervase, Lomax, Mabin, Fleming, Draper, Ward, Snyder, Gair, Taylor.
ST – Koehn, Kidd, Kluver, Recinos.
THAT’S SPECIAL: How Iowa’s special teams units lined up Friday at Nebraska.
Kick Coverage – Koehn, Snyder, Falconer, Draper, Kittle, Hockaday, Bower, Perry, Plewa, Ward, Fleming.
Kick Return – Parker/King, McCarron, Plewa, Hockaday, Falconer, Snyder, Perry, Bower, Cox, Kittle, Kulick.
Punt Coverage – Kidd, Kluver, Hulett, Plewa, Jewell, Jackson, Snyder, Fisher, Ward, Plewa, McCarron.
Punt Return – McCarron/King, Jackson, Ward, Hockaday, Snyder, Bower, Mends, Duzey, Perry, Fleming.
EXTRA-POINTS: Nebraska recognized former Husker Johnny Rodgers and Tim Dwight, a former Hawkeye all-American, on the field between the first and second quarters. The Big Ten announced it was naming a special teams award after the dynamic duo…Nebraska’s Nate Gerry was ejected in the second quarter after being penalized for targeting Tevaun Smith…Iowa complete an undefeated regular season for the fifth time in school history, and first time since 1922: (1899, 8-0-1; 1900, 8-0-1; 1921, 7-0; 1922, 7-0)…Iowa won five road games for the fourth time in school history (1982, 1991, 2002)…Omaha native LB Cole Fisher recorded his first career interception…RB Jordan Canzeri became the 14th player in program history to rush for 2,000 yards in a career (2053) Canzeri had 17 carries for 140 yards, the fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and seventh of his career…QB C.J. Beathard is 13-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback, a record that includes a 6-0 mark on the road, a 7-0 mark at home, and an 9-0 mark in the Big Ten. He is the only quarterback in school history to win his first 13 career starts.