It was both the best of times and the worst of times for Iowa wide receiver Keenan Davis on Saturday.
Davis had easily the most productive game of his college career, catching five passes for 95 yards. Included in that was a 23-yard touchdown reception in the second overtime in which he caught the ball around the 10-yard line, turned and ran over an Iowa State defender to get into the end zone.
But on a third-and-6 play in the third overtime, Davis allowed a James Vandenberg pass over the middle to slither through his fingers, forcing the Hawkeyes to settle for a field goal. They subsequently lost the game when Iowa State scored a touchdown.
"That's a routine catch I should make," a disconsolate Davis said.
Vandenberg, however, defended the junior from Cedar Rapids Washington.
"Drops happen," Vandenberg said. "It was just zone coverage and a crossing route, and I probably could have put the ball a little lower. We can't hang the game on that. There were plenty of things we could have fixed on both sides of the ball well before then that wouldn't have put us in that situation."
Hawkeye deja vu
Two years ago at Ohio State, in Vandenberg's first career start, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz opted to play for overtime when his team got the ball back with a couple of minutes to go in a tie game.
On Saturday against Iowa State, he did the same thing. When the Hawkeyes got it at their own 20 with 1:17 remaining and two timeouts, they ran out the clock with two routine running plays.
"I knew that was coming, Vandenberg said when the question was posed in postgame interviews.
He said he had no problem with the strategy. Again.
"I knew we were going to have to bust a nice little play to get going," he said. "I trust the coach in everything he does so if we were going to play for overtime, that's what we were going to do."
Ferentz said that if the Hawkeyes had gotten the ball past the 30-yard line on the first play, they might have tried to get downfield and score. But when Marcus Coker gained just two yards on the first play, he settled for OT.
Coker comes back
Coker fumbled the ball away again in the second quarter Saturday, giving him three fumbles in the first two games, but he bounced back to finish with 140 yards in 35 carries.
"I thought he took a positive step today," Ferentz said. "He ran the ball better as the game went on, but we need to get him some help. We can't just rely on him and Marvin (McNutt) for everything."
Senior defensive back Jordan Berstine did not play for Iowa on Saturday because of a bout with strep throat. He accompanied the team to Ames, but team doctors thought it best to hold him out because of a high temperature.
Iowa sophomore linebacker Dakota Getz played in just three games last season because of injuries and also sat out last week's opening game against Tennessee Tech. Now it looks as though his 2011 season is over, too. Getz went down with a knee injury on the opening kickoff Saturday and Ferentz told reporters he thought Getz likely was done for the season.
Linebacker Tyler Nielsen limped off with an ankle injury two snaps later, but did return as did Iowa State offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, who left briefly in the first quarter after re-aggravating an ankle injury which has nagged the senior tackle throughout fall camp.
Crowd is No. 2
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Saturday's crowd of 56,085 was the second largest in the history of Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones attracted 56,795 for a 2007 game with Northern Iowa.
Kickers Mike Meyer of Iowa and Grant Mahoney of Iowa State each went deep to help forge a 10-10 halftime tie with long field goals.
Meyer equaled the longest effort of his career, hitting from 42 yards with 13 minutes, 32 seconds left in the second quarter then bettered on the first of his two third-quarter field goals by hitting from 50 yards.
With 41 seconds remaining in the first half, Mahoney tied the score with a 54-yard field goal. It was the Cyclones senior's fifth successful attempt from 50 or more yards, topped only by a 57-yard field goal against Nebraska last season.
Dakota Getz returned to the field briefly Saturday for Iowa. Cleared to play Saturday as he worked his way back from offseason surgery, Getz suffered what Ferentz labeled a season-ending left knee injury while playing on special teams as Iowa State returned the opening kickoff.
Fullback Jonathan Gimm made his first start for Iowa, while the Hawkeyes' C.J. Fiedorowicz and Kevonte Martin-Manley recorded the first receptions of their careers. Martin-Manley's first was a 6-yard touchdown catch which gave Iowa a 7-0 edge midway through the first quarter.
In addition to his game-deciding score, the Cyclones' James White rushed for his first college touchdown from 1-yard out in the second overtime.