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NCAAF News: Iowa’s defense smothers Rutgers, 27-10

Iowa relied on two defensive touchdowns in the first half to take down host Rutgers 27-10 on Saturday night in Piscataway, N.J.

Cooper DeJean returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Kaevon Merriweather added a 30-yard fumble return in the second to give the Hawkeyes (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) an early advantage. Merriweather added a pick in the third quarter.

Leshon Williams took 11 carries for 64 yards and touchdown for Iowa. Spencer Petras completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards.

For Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten), Evan Simon — who entered the game with 411 career passing yards — threw for 300 yards on 28-of-49 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Rutgers drove 66 yards in 12 plays on the game’s opening drive, topped off by Jude McAtamney’s 28-yard field goal.

But on the Scarlet Knights’ second possession, Simon was hit as he threw a deep ball that DeJean caught over his shoulder, marking his third straight game with an interception. He crossed the field and made multiple tacklers miss on his touchdown return with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

Iowa punter Tory Taylor pinned Rutgers at its own 7 during the second quarter. On third-and-5 from the 12, Simon connected with Joshua Youngblood on the run for what would have been a first down. Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro drilled the ball loose, and Merriweather picked it up and ran down the sideline for a touchdown.

Iowa led 14-3 despite gaining just 53 yards of offense on its first three possessions. The Hawkeyes added an 87-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Drew Stevens 21 seconds before halftime.

The Hawkeyes marched down the field to open the second half, and one play after Rutgers’ Christian Braswell committed pass interference on third-and-goal, Williams scored from 2 yards out for a 24-3 lead.

The Scarlet Knights had a 16-play, 82-yard drive peter out on downs at the Iowa 7-yard line. But after they forced a punt, Aron Cruickshank caught an 18-yard touchdown while falling on his back to cut it to 24-10 with 11:15 to play.

Stevens’ field goal attempt from 51 yards hit the inside of the left upright and fell through, giving Iowa a 17-point cushion with 6:08 left.

–Field Level Media

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