By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — IOWA CITY — No, it didn’t rain on Saturday. Yes, it was still plenty warm with temperatures in the 90s.
Hawkeye fans could care less about the weather conditions. In their minds, the drought ended on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
Mark Weisman ran the ball 30 times for 180 yards, achieving a career milestone by crossing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career while scoring two touchdowns as Iowa snapped an 11-month, seven-game losing streak with a 28-14 win over Missouri State.
“I’m a little sore (right now), but it feels good,” Weisman said after leading the Hawkeyes to the win. “I didn’t know I had that many (carries). It honestly didn’t feel like I had that many. It always feels good after you win. The locker room’s always a happier place after a victory.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock added two rushing touchdowns of his own, including the game clincher midway through the second half as Iowa found itself clinging to a 21-14 lead.
After Weisman’s two touchdowns in the third quarter lifted Iowa to a 21-0 lead, Missouri State stunned the Hawkeye fans with back-to-back touchdowns in the opening minute of the final quarter. A 27-yard touchdown pass to Julian Burton from Kierra Harris on the second play of the final 15 minutes cut Iowa’s lead to 14 and was immediately followed 10 seconds later on Iowa’s first snap after the kickoff by Rique Bentley’s 28-yard interception return for a score.
“There’s a lot of things we need to clean up right now,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after the Hawkeyes’ first win since a 19-16 double overtime triumph at Michigan State back on Oct. 13. “There were a lot of good things out there, too, but mistakes we made helped hide that. Part of that was playing really hard or whether it was us not playing well enough.
“But, all that being said, there were some good things out there, and that’s what we’re going to build off of and try to clean up the mistakes. We were just happy to get the win.”
For the second-straight game, Iowa’s offense piled up the yards with 489 yards one week after 458 was not enough to hold off a fourth-quarter rally by Northern Illinois, which used a Mathew Sims’ field goal with four seconds left to win 30-27. After having its 21-point lead cut down to seven, the same margin NIU rallied from in the fourth last weekend, Iowa marched down the field on a 10-play, 65-yard drive that took up the next 4:18 and was capped by a Rudock run from two yards out to put Iowa up 14.
Missouri State (0-2) made one last run at getting back within a score, driving to the Hawkeye 14. Bears quarterback Kierra Harris had a second down pass picked off in the end zone by Tanner Miller with 6:50 to go, ending the last scoring threat for the Bears and former Northern Iowa head coach Terry Allen’s squad.
“We lost one last week and that’s how I’m looking at it, so we’re 1-1 right now, and I’m just happy,” Ferentz said. “The best we could do is get to 1-1 and we’ll try to build from that.”
For Allen, who was making his return to his hometown of Iowa City, the day was one that produced a lot of positives for his FCS Missouri State squad.
“Let’s put it together, and we have 10 more games to win. If we can improve on the effort we had (Saturday), we can win a lot of those,” Allen said after losing in just his second trip to Iowa City.
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