IOWA CITY —
And he only needed 61 seconds to do it.
The Hawkeye junior became the first Iowa player since Andy Brodell in 2008 to return a punt for a touchdown, taking back a 43-yard boot by J. Schroeder 83 yards for a score early in the second quarter to extend the Hawkeyes’ 10-0 lead to 17-0. After snapping that five-year special teams drought, Martin-Manley made Iowa football history just over a minute later, taking a second straight punt return back 63 yards for a second straight touchdown return.
That score made Martin-Manley the first Iowa football player ever to return to punt returns in the same game for touchdowns. It also started a huge 28-point second quarter as the Hawkeyes put up points in almost every way imaginable to open a 38-3 halftime lead on winless Western Michigan.
The back-to-back punt returns makes Martin-Manley just the third player in Big Ten Conference history to accomplish the feat. Wisconsin’s Jud Girard, against Iowa, in 1947 and Ohio State’s Garcia Lane in 1983 against Purdue are the only two other Big Ten players ever to return two punts for scores in one game.
The 183 punt return yards by Martin-Manley topped the total offense for either team in the first half. Iowa put up just two offensive touchdowns in the opening half as Mark Weisman added a four-yard touchdown run with 1:23 left to go along with Jake Rudock’s 21-yard first-quarter pass to Jacob Hillyer as Iowa produced just 159 total yards of offense.
But the defense didn’t need much help, as it turned out, against the Broncos. Western Michigan didn’t get a first down until the 9:12 mark of the second quarter and only scored after LeShun Daniels, Jr. fumbled on Hawkeyes’ own 28, setting up a drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal by Andrew Haldeman.
B.J. Lowery capped a thrilling first half for the Hawkeyes by added Iowa’s fourth different touchdown. The senior defensive back picked off a third down pass from Bronco quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen and dashed in 35 yards for a score with 56 seconds left before the half to put Iowa up by five touchdowns.
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