IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa won’t have to face Northern Iowa again for four years.
The Hawkeyes won’t be sorry to see the Panthers go.
Jake Rudock threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and Iowa hung to beat Northern Iowa 31-23 on Saturday.
Kevonte Martin-Manley added eight catches for the Hawkeyes (1-0), who survived despite allowing 203 yards receiving to running back David Johnson.
Sawyer Kollmorgen had 380 yards passing for the Panthers (0-1). They fell to 1-16 against the rival Hawkeyes but still managed to challenge Iowa into the fourth quarter for the third time since 2009.
“We learned a lot about ourselves. The effort was certainly there. The ‘want to’ was there. But it’s hard to simulate a game, and that was real good one for us to go through,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes haven’t forgotten how Northern Iowa came within a field goal of winning at Kinnick Stadium five years ago. The Panthers also threw a scare at Iowa in 2012 before losing 27-16.
This time, Iowa was only up 24-23 until Damond Powell’s 12-yard touchdown reception with 6:50 left. Greg Mabin’s late interception sealed the win for the Hawkeyes.
The Panthers might have made it even closer, but they finished with a staggering 16 penalties for 128 yards.
“In a game like this we made good plays offensively and good plays defensively, but penalties set us back,” Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley said.
Iowa opened the second half with a slim 17-13 lead and in need of a boost on offense.
Tevaun Smith provided it on a pair of spectacular plays - then watched Johnson top him.
Smith took a reverse to the left sideline and cut back across the field, avoiding a slew of charging Panthers for a 35-yard gain. He then caught a Rudock pass in the back of the end zone with one hand to put Iowa ahead 24-13.
The explosive Johnson answered quickly.
He beat Iowa’s linebackers for his third huge catch of the day, a 70-yarder that made it 24-20 midway through the third quarter.