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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The game itself was, at times, outright hideous.
Iowa's defense looked gorgeous yet again though, doing more than enough to ensure that the CyHawk trophy stays in Iowa City for another year.
Mekhi Sargent scored on a 2-yard TD run with 4:47 left and Iowa beat Iowa State 13-3 on Saturday for the fourth year in a row.
Miguel Recinos added a pair of field goals for the Hawkeyes (2-0), whose winning streak over the Cyclones (0-1) is the longest since they took 15 straight from 1983-97.
Iowa can thank its defense for that.
The Hawkeyes gave up just 188 yards on 56 plays, allowed Iowa State inside their 20-yard line just once and forced five three-and-outs in 11 drives. Iowa has now given up only 10 points through two games.
"For our defense to be able to do the things they did, it really speaks highly of them," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. They "fought through some tough circumstances."
Iowa State's defense contributed to the slog, holding the Hawkeyes to 271 yards and 6 of 17 on third downs. But Iowa finally put together a decent drive when it mattered most by going 83 yards in 13 plays — highlighted by a 30-yard reception by Brandon Smith that set up Sargent's touchdown.
"It's a big momentum booster," said Iowa's Nate Stanley, who was 16 of 28 passing for the Hawkeyes. "I'm just extremely happy that we can come out here and win and get to keep that trophy for another year."
Kyle Kempt threw for 126 yards for Iowa State before leaving with what coach Matt Campbell described as a "dinged" MCL in his left knee.
"I don't think it's season ending by any stretch of the imagination," Campbell said.
Iowa State's David Montgomery ran for just 44 yards on 17 carries a year after torching Iowa for 112 yards and a TD.
"He's as good as you're going to face," Ferentz said. "That's a real credit to our guys to do a little bit better job of tackling."
Iowa State: The Cyclones defense, which fueled the program's turnaround 2017, looked like it hadn't lost a beat. But Iowa State couldn't find a way to get Montgomery in space, and its offensive line couldn't crack many holes for him between the tackles either. The bigger concern moving forward will be Kempt though. Backup Zeb Noland was 4 of 10 for 43 yards.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have the makings of a special defense. That could lead to a special season in Iowa City — especially with what appears to be an easy schedule. But Iowa's wide receivers struggled mightily until the game-deciding drive, and its passing game as a whole has been subpar through two games. It hasn't mattered much just yet, but the Hawkeyes won't go far in the Big Ten if they can't throw the ball.
A GOOD START AND THEN...
The game could have gone much different had Iowa State finished its first drive. The Cyclones went 66 yards in the first quarter, making it all the way to the Iowa 1. But instead of feeding Montgomery from a yard out, Kempt threw an incomplete pass to Hakeem Butler. Iowa State settled for a field goal, and it wouldn't get anywhere near Iowa's end zone again. "We just tried to replicate that (drive) the whole game, and they've got such a good defensive front it's hard to get those easy yards. So we started playing behind the chains," Iowa State tight end Chase Allen said.
Toren Young led Iowa with 68 yards rushing on 21 carries, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette had 45 receiving yards. But none of the Hawkeyes wideouts had more than one catch. ... Iowa State freshman Mike Rose had 11 tackles in his debut, while Iowa sophomore A.J. Epenesa had a pair of sacks, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. ...The Cyclones have scored just six points in their last two trips to Kinnick Stadium.
HE SAID IT
"At the line of scrimmage, where games are still won in this sport, they dominated. And we didn't respond," Campbell said.
The Cyclones host No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday. That'll be a very tough task if Kempt isn't able to play.
Iowa hosts Northern Iowa of the FCS on Saturday. Perhaps the Hawkeyes can find their passing game against the Panthers, but UNI usually isn't a pushover for Iowa.