IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Dragan Kesich made four field goals and Minnesota won at Iowa for the first time since 1999 to snap an eight-game losing streak in the series, holding the No. 24 Hawkeyes to 12 yards in the second half in a 12-10 victory Saturday.
With the Floyd of Rosedale bronze hog statue at stake in the cross-border rivalry, Iowa appeared to take the lead with 1:21 left when Cooper DeJean fielded a punt that had bounced near the Minnesota sideline and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. But after a replay review, DeJean was ruled to have made a fair-catch signal before fielding the punt, disallowing the return.
“The receiver makes a pointing gesture with his right hand and he makes multiple waving gestures with his left hand,” referee Tim O’Dey said through a pool reporter. “If you look at the video you’ll see that. That waving motion of the left hand constitutes an invalid fair catch signal. So when the receiving team recovers the ball, by rule it becomes dead.”
O’Dey said the review showed, “indisputable evidence that there is a waving motion with the left hand. And that is when these rules are applied.”
“I was told that he was waving,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “What they tell us in pre-game, a wave is up here, above the head. Most people when they run, their arms do wave.”
Said Minnesota coach PJ. Fleck: “(The official) thought it was a fair-catch signal. I’m not an official, right? But there was something. We’ve been called for that before, when we’ve made any time of movement before the catch, and the ball was dead right there. If it wasn’t, that was a heck of a play by the kid.”
Iowa still had the ball, but Justin Walley intercepted Deacon Hill’s pass with a minute to play.
Down 10-3 at the half, the Gophers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) held Iowa (6-2, 3-2) to minus-2 yards in the third quarter.
“We knew we were going to have to play the long game today,” Fleck said. “You’ve got to play the long game with them.”
Fleck recalled a conversation he had last summer with Illinois coach Bret Bielema, when they had talked about how to play against Iowa.
“He’s like, ‘There’s a strategic way to beat Iowa. And you’ve got to commit to it,’” Fleck said. “As tempting as it is, as frustrating as it is at times, you’ve got to stick with it.”
The Hawkeyes, ranked 130th in the nation in total offense, had 127 yards overall while Hill, making the third start of his career, fumbled twice in Iowa territory while completing just 10 of 28 passes for 116 yards.
Iowa, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, was held to 11 yards rushing after averaging 147 in victories over Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin.
Kesich had a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter, then hit from 44 and 28 yards in the third quarter. His 31-yarder with 8:33 left gave the Gophers their first lead.
“We faced a ton of adversity today,” Fleck said. “We had every opportunity to fold. But we just wouldn’t. Our team, our players, wouldn’t.”
Minnesota: The Gophers, coming off a bye week, found enough points against the Hawkeyes, wearing them down in the second half while taking advantage of Iowa’s offensive ineptitude. Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis was 10 of 25 for 126 yards, but didn’t turn the ball over.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes’ offensive problems haven’t shown signs of improving, and a defense that was wearing down in the second half couldn’t find a way to stop the Gophers. Iowa enters an off week in the Big Ten West lead, but with a lot of questions heading into the final month of the season. “Clearly, there are a lot of things we can do better,” Ferentz said.
Minnesota: Hosts Michigan State on Saturday.
Iowa: At Northwestern on Nov. 4.
___ AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football