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Iowa football starts the season strong with 24-14 win over Utah State.

Iowa football’s offense looked rejuvenated against Utah State Saturday, defeating the Aggies, 24-14, in its home opener at Kinnick Stadium.  

All eyes were on Michigan transfer QB Cade McNamara, who went 17-of-29 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Junior tight end Luke Lachey was the Hawkeyes leading receiver with seven receptions for 73 yards. 

Iowa’s defense held the Aggies to 116 rushing yards behind Hawkeye leading tackler linebacker Jay Higgins, who amassed 16 during the contest. 

After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Iowa took less than one minute to find the end zone, as McNamara tossed a 36-yard touchdown to a wide-open Seth Anderson on the second play of drive; the first connection for the pair of transfers. 

After an opening drive from Utah State that resulted in a quick three-and-out, the Hawkeyes got the ball back and had an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal to tight end Erick All, who played with McNamara for three years with the Wolverines. 

After only scoring 14 points combined in their first two games of 2022, the Hawkeyes had matched that total in just the first quarter. In addition, it took until Week 5 of last season for Iowa to complete two passing scores. 

The Aggies’ second position was another quick three-and-out that resulted in three total yards before punting it back to the Hawkeyes who drove the ball 42 yards down the field, getting to the Aggies 29-yard line, before turning the ball on downs after a failed fourth down conversion by Leshon Williams, who exited the game at halftime due to the 90 degree heat on the field. 

The following possession saw Utah State’s longest drive of the game, even accounting for defensive tackle Deontae Craig’s sack for a 10 yard loss. The Aggies would go on to settle for 32-yard field goal by kicker William Testa. 

Following possessions where both teams exchanged punts, Hawkeye safety Xavier Nwankpa picked off Aggie QB Cooper Legas with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes followed the turnover with an 11-play, 47-yard drive that resulted in a field goal before the end of the half. 

Second half 

The Aggies opened up the second half promising with a 39-yard-pass from Legas to senior receiver Terrell Vaughn, setting themselves up in Iowa territory. The Hawkeyes were able to stifle the Aggies’ momentum and Utah State settled for a field goal.

The Hawkeyes’ next series features two incomplete passes from Iowa’s McNamara on second and third down bringing Tory Taylor and the Hawkeye punting unit back onto the field, leaving the Aggies offense to start on its own 17th-yard line. 

Following an unsuccessful drive by Utah State, the Aggies punted it to Iowa on the Hawkeye’s own 20. 

A couple of plays later, McNamara found senior receiver Nico Ragaini on the left side for 29 yards to move the Hawkeyes up into Utah State territory. In the following play, McNamara’s right leg — the same one he injured in August — was caught in an attempted tackle on a Utah State QB hurry. McNamara appeared a little shaken up after the play but remained in the game.

Following a pair of punts by both teams, the Hawkeyes got the ball back on its own 32-yard line. During the drive, McNamara found junior tight end Luke Lachey on two receptions, including one for a crucial 31-yard pass competition on third-and-12. Iowa would close out the possession with seven points following a three-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Johnson. 

After another failed Aggie possession, Iowa second-string quarterback Deacon Hill saw his first playing time in a Hawkeyes uniform, completing one-of-two passes for five yards. The Aggies managed a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the lead to 10 with a 1:36 to go in the game, but by that point, the game was in the Hawkeyes’ hands. 

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