IOWA CITY — From the opening kickoff, it just felt like a special day was in store for Iowa Hawkeye fans at Kinnick Stadium last Saturday.
Kevonte Martin-Manley and B.J. Lowry made sure those fans didn’t go home disappointed.
Martin-Manley became only the third player in Big Ten history to return two punt returns for touchdowns while Lowry also set a school record with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Those were just half of the eight touchdowns put up by Iowa in the highest scoring game in five years as the Hawkeyes routed Western Michigan 59-3 Saturday afternoon in quite a final tune-up before Big Ten play begins next week.
“That’s big. I’m truly humbled by it.” Martin-Manley, the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week, said about being the first Iowa player to ever return two punts for touchdowns in the same game. “I’m really fortunate to even be in that situation to make plays like that. I think my teammates and the coaches to even be able to make big plays like that.”
It’s the most points Iowa has scored in 11 years dating back to a 62-3 rout of Northwestern and the first time a Hawkeye team has broken 50 points since a 55-0 shutout at Minnesota back in 2008. Fittingly, Iowa will head back to Minneapolis Saturday to defend the Floyd of Rosedale and open conference play against the Golden Gophers at 2:30 p.m.
“We start again new (starting Sunday), Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after Iowa’s most lopsided home win since a 56-0 shutout of Ball State in 2005. “We haven’t done much up there in Minneapolis in a couple years, so we’ll have a big challenge on our hands.”
It’s also fitting that the Hawkeyes cracked the 50-point barrier for the first time since the 2008 season. That was also the last season that an Iowa player, Andy Brodell, returned a punt for a touchdown when the former Ankeny standout raced down the Iowa sideline for a score at Kinnick in a ‘CyHawk’ win over Iowa State.