TUCSON, Ariz. -- Kirk Ferentz made no secret that he really wasn’t crazy about taking his football team to Arizona for the second time in his tenure at the University of Iowa.
Don’t look for the Hawkeyes to go back a third time.
The ninth-ranked Hawks pretty much duplicated their 2004 disaster in the desert Saturday night, making a slew of early mistakes and completely falling apart in the last eight minutes of a 34-27 loss to No. 24 Arizona.
As in their 44-7 at Arizona State six years ago, the Hawkeyes fell behind very early, trailing by 20 points (27-7) at halftime.
This time they battled back to tie the score with 8 minutes 12 seconds remaining on a 20-yard interception return by Broderick Binns, but Arizona (3-0) dominated the rest of the way.
The Wildcats, who had not scored in the second half, drove 72 yards in nine plays with Nick Foles flipping a 4-yard scoring pass to Bug Wright with 3:57 to go, giving Arizona a 34-27 lead.
Iowa still had a chance, but Arizona’s pass rush buried any hopes for a Hawkeye comeback. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who passed for 278 yards and three touchdowns, was sacked on three straight plays and Arizona ran out the clock.
“Bottom line, we just made too many mistakes to win the game,’’ Iowa linebacker Jeff Tarpinian said on the Hawkeye Network’s postgame radio show.
The Wildcats, playing in front of a raucous, red-clad sellout crowd, grabbed the upper hand with big plays on defense and special teams.
They blocked a Ryan Donahue punt on the fourth play of the game and capitalized with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Foles to David Douglas.
On Iowa’s next series, Stanzi threw a pass downfield that slipped through the hands of receiver Marvin McNutt into the hands of cornerback Trevin Wade, who had returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown against Iowa last year. This time, he took it back 85 yards to make it 14-0.
"Both teams had some sloppy play, but we certainly got off to a fast start in that area,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Iowa responded with a 93-yard scoring drive, capped by Stanzi’s 4-yard pass to Jewel Hampton, but Arizona’s Travis Cobb returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 21-7.
It was 27-7 at halftime, but Iowa gradually came back with a 37-yard scoring pass from Stanzi to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos in the third quarter and an 18-yard Stanzi-to-McNutt TD toss in the fourth. That came after Wright fumbled a punt and Iowa’s Shaun Prater recovered with about nine minutes to go.
Two plays later, Binns stepped in front of a Foles pass and raced to the end zone although the extra point kick was blocked, leaving the score tied at 27-27.
"Our guys battled back, but that was about the only positive I saw,'' Ferentz said. "We competed.''