Iowa Wins In Another Pinstripe Bowl That Goes Down To Wire

(Boston College’s AJ Dillon scoring a touchdown late in the first quarter – Photo by Jason Schott)

The Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium had its eighth installment on Wednesday, and like most of the ones preceding it, the game went down to the wire, with Iowa holding on for a 27-20 win over Boston College.

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz recorded his 143rd win at Iowa, tying Hayden Fry as the Hawkeyes’ all-time winningest football coach. Ferentz has a record of 143-97, while Fry’s record is 143-89-6. The 143 wins rank fifth in overall coaching wins in the Big Ten Conference.

Iowa improved to 7-8 in bowl games since 2001. Only Ohio State (8) has more bowl wins among Big Ten teams since 2001.

Iowa running back/kick returner Akrum Wadley was named the Most Valuable Player. He had an Iowa bowl record 171 kickoff return yards. The previous record was held by C.J. Jones, who had 169 vs. USC in the 2003 Orange Bowl. His 72-yard KO return at the end of the first quarter was a career-long.

Wadley finished the game with a career-high 283 all-purpose yards (88 rushing, 24 receiving, 171 kickoff return). He has 3,904 career all-purpose yards, ninth most in program history (2,872 rush, 761 receiving, 271 KO returns).

Wadley rushed 22 times for 88 yards today. He has 536 career carries for 2,872 rushing yards, fifth all-time. Wadley had one rushing touchdown today (5 yards). He has 28 career rushing touchdowns, fourth all-time, 35 career touchdowns, tying Sedrick Shaw for second all-time, and 210 career points, 10th all-time.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw for 99 yards on 8-15 passing, and a touchdown.

Boston College was led by quarterback Darius Wade, who threw for 208 yards on 16-27 passing, with a touchdown. Wade threw two costly interceptions on their opening and final drives.

BC running back AJ Dillon had a big day with 32 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown.

Boston College got the ball first, but just three plays into their opening drive, Iowa fullback Jake Gervase intercepted a Darius Wade pass at the BC 35 yard line and returned it to the six.

Iowa could not get it in after a Akrum Wadley run was stopped at the line of scrimmage and Nate Stanley through a couple incomplete passes. They had to settle for a Miguel Recinos field goal from 24 yards out to take an early 3-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, Boston College went on a 14-play, 62-yard drive that was capped by an AJ Dillon four-yard touchdown run to make it 7-3 Eagles with five seconds left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Iowa responded with a touchdown of their own, as Nate Stanley found Noah Fant for an eight-yard touchdown pass at the 13:18 mark to make it 10-7.

A few minutes later, BC came right back, as Darius Wade threw a beautiful pass to Tom Sweeney from 39 yards out to make it 14-10 Eagles. They added a Colton Lichtenberg 30-yard field goal with 1:29 left to make it 17-10 going into the half.

In the third quarter, Iowa executed a quick seven-play, 51-yard drive capped by a Wadley five-yard touchdown run to tie it at 17 with 7:11 left in the frame.

The fourth was a battle of ball control, as Iowa went on a ten-play, 55-yard, five-minute drive capped by a Recinos field goal to make it 20-17. BC responded with a seven-play, 55-yard drive over three minutes that was finished with a Lichtenberg field goal from 24 yards out to tie it at 20 with 8:09 left.

The game was still tied at 20 with 4:22 left when Iowa got the ball at the BC 45. The drive began with a Wadley rush for 27 yards down to the 18. Stanley then found Nate Wieting with a nifty pass that brought them down to the one-yard line. Drake Kulick ran it in from there to make it 27-20 Iowa with 3:09 remaining.

BC was driving in an attempt to send this one into overtime, just like the last time they were in the Pinstripe Bowl, in 2014, when they lost to Penn State in OT.

On the fifth play of the drive, Wade was intercepted by Joshua Jackson with just 1:18 left to seal the win for Iowa. That was his eighth interception of the season, the most in the nation this season and it tied a single-season school record — Desmond King (2015), Lou King (1981), and Nile Kinnick (1939).

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said of the win, “First, I just want to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. About three plus weeks ago standing here, and I was leaving town that day, really kind of impacted me a little bit just what a great opportunity this was going to be for our football team, and it’s been way better than we even could have envisioned, starting with the whole Steinbrenner family, everybody involved with the Yankees’ organization. It’s just been absolutely fantastic, and our office people came out here before the game, worked with the staff here, and they said they’ve never gone through anything like this. Everything has been first-class. I think that’s just synonymous with the Yankee organization. So we feel very privileged to have been here and very, very fortunate in that regard.

“I want to congratulate Boston College. It was a very, very tough competitive game. They’ve had a heck of a year and really came on strong the second part of the season, and were playing more than strong in that first half, as well. We knew we had our work cut out coming here for this football game. Certainly you all witnessed the same thing. They’re an excellent football team. Very well-coached, and players that play hard. So we congratulate them.

“I think the game in a lot of ways was reflective of our season. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, some turbulence along the way, that type of thing, but the guys pushed through it, and that certainly is what happened today.

“The first half Boston College did a really good job against us. We didn’t play our best, and that’s not a good mix. But just couldn’t be prouder of our team in the second half. They came out, thought they played tough, gritty football, and certainly we were playing in tough conditions. This was just a real challenge for both teams with the weather, certainly the field, and it’s just December, January football. It’s always going to be a challenge.

“For our team to come out the way they did in that second half and push through it, to me it was a breakthrough moment for us, and just really happy for our team, very proud of our team, especially proud of our seniors, the leadership that they’ve given us, not only this past month but this past couple years, they’ve done a great, great job. For Akrum to come home, have a breakthrough moment like this, for us to get a bowl victory for our fans, certainly important for us, and Josh Jackson to get his eighth pick of the season, all those things are really significant and make it special. Just really happy for our football team, very, very proud of them.”

Boston College Head Coach Steve Addazio said, “Hard-fought football game. Played a good football team. The two teams battled. They made more plays down the home stretch than we did. We rushed for about a buck 70-something, threw for two something, had 373 yards of offense, but we did a few things that were uncharacteristic of our football team. We turned it once over at the very beginning of the game on a tipped ball. We turned it twice over in the second half, once on an interception, once on a fumble, and I felt like our plan to win special teams are critically important, but between a penalty and some poor kickoff coverage, we put ourselves in bad field position. That’s the tale of the game.

“In the second half, we were on the long field, they were on the short field. Started off with our poor coverage to open up the second half. We all know that we can’t turn the ball over. We had three turnovers, like I said, one in the first half, two in the second half, so all the stats and all the yardage, that doesn’t mean anything. When you turn the ball over, you put yourself in harm’s way, and when you don’t control the field position through your special teams, you put yourself in harm’s way, and those were things that were uncharacteristic of our football team, and those are things that we did today.

“We’ve got a talented football team with a bright future. You know, we’ve got some really good team speed and some playmakers. Obviously out there today in this kind of conditions, it comes down to — it becomes a real back-and-forth kind of game. You’re looking for your plays as you can get them, and I thought we had a fair amount of offense based on the weather conditions that we had out here. But I think as we move forward with the young playmakers that we have, the speed that we have on our team, and the explosiveness, I really like where we’re headed and where we’re going to be.

“I feel bad for our seniors. They wanted to close this thing out, as every team does in a bowl game, on a high note, but we were in a tough football game, and we’ll learn from that game, and it’ll make us stronger, and it’ll continue to improve us and make us a better team as we roll into the next season. We’re looking forward to a great off-season, a great spring and a great summer.

“Love our football team. Love our players. Heart breaks for them in the locker room right now, but this is a high-character outfit with a lot of pride, and they’ll learn. We will learn from this game, and this is going to continue on our path to making us the team that I think we can be. As hard as it is to walk off that field right now, give credit to Iowa. I thought they did a great job. Good football team, really good football program. I think both teams battled and played their hearts out on that field. Really good bowl game.”

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