Florida 30, Iowa 3
TAMPA, Fla. — Two defining moments six minutes apart led to one frustrating finish for the Iowa football team.
One was on offense, the other on defense, and both sent 20th-rated Florida on its way to a humbling 30-3 victory over the 21st-ranked Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.
Iowa and Florida were locked in a 3-3 defensive struggle midway through the second quarter before the Hawkeyes put together their first sustained drive of the game. A six-yard pick-up by C.J. Beathard from the Florida seven-yard line left Iowa with a fourth-and-goal situation inside the one.
The handoff went to LeShun Daniels, but the Gators’ Marcell Harris blew through a missed block and dropped the Hawkeye senior for a two-yard loss.
Things got even tougher for the Hawkeyes six minutes later after the two teams traded punts, a 51-yarder by the Gators’ Johnny Townsend followed a 53-yard effort from Ron Coluzzi which left Florida on its 15-yard line with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first half.
Mark Thompson didn’t keep the Gators there for long, catching a screen pass from Austin Appleby and eluding tackle attempts by five Hawkeyes on his way to an 85-yard touchdown run.
The longest pass play in Outback Bowl history left Iowa in a 10-3 halftime hole.
Keith Duncan added to the Hawkeyes’ frustration in the third quarter when Iowa took the kickoff and moved 62 yards on 13 plays before the true freshman missed a kick for just the second time this season, shanking a field goal try from 30 yards with 7:35 left in the quarter.
Florida answered with a 12-play, 80-yard march of its own that ended with a six-yard Appleby-to-DeAndre Goolsby touchdown pass with :48 to play in the third.
Four snaps later, Iowa’s chances were all but over when Chauncey Gardner returned the first of three interceptions thrown by Beathard in the fourth quarter 58 yards for a touchdown which left the Hawkeyes in a 24-3 hole.
Gardner, named the game’s most valuable player, and Daniel McMillian picked off Beathard on Iowa’s next two possessions as well and Florida’s Eddy Pineiro followed with his second and third field goals of the game.