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Iowa rallies past Boston College to win the Pinstripe Bowl


With temperatures in the low 20s and two strong defenses, the 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl was a hard-fought battle. Iowa ended up coming away with the 27-20 victory, snapping its five-game bowl losing streak. 

Senior running back Akrum Wadley ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and was named MVP. "It was wild. You can't pay for moments like that," Wadley said. "Before the game, I was talking about setting the tone, saying 'let's go' and setting the tone first play. And winning the MVP is a bonus, the biggest thing though is that we got a big team victory." 

The touchdown tied Wadley for second place in Hawkeyes history with 35 touchdowns. Tavian Banks is the all-time leader with 36 touchdowns. Wadley also ran five kickoffs back for 171 yards, breaking a Hawkeyes bowl record of 169 yards.

Wadley's ability to shorten the field for the Hawkeyes was what ultimately led the Hawkeyes to victory over the Eagles. 

"In the second half, we were on the long field, they were on the short field," Steve Addazzio said. "Between a bad penalty and some poor kickoff coverage, we put ourselves in bad field position." 

The three turnovers by Addazzio's club were also rarity for a team that usually causes the turnovers. Two interceptions and a lost fumble ultimately doomed the Eagles. 

The back-and-forth battle seemed destined for overtime until the Hawkeyes' Matt Nelson forced Eagles quarterback Darius Wade to fumble late in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 20. Parker Hesse recovered the fumble for Iowa. Wadley picked up 27 yards to open the drive and Nate Stanley found Nate Wieting for a 17-yard gain. That set up the game-winning, one-yard touchdown run by Drake Kulikc. 

Boston College had a chance to tie the game with 3:01 left and the ball at their own 30 but couldn't come through. Josh Jackson picked off Wade with 1:18 remaining in the game and the Hawkeyes ran the clock down. "It took them out of a scoring threat and gave us a chance to eat some clock," Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said about the interception. It was Jackson's eighth pick, which tied the Hawkeyes' single-season record. The Eagles had another shot with just under a minute to go, but they failed to get anything going.

Despite a combined 56 bowl appearances, it was the first time that Hawkeyes and Eagles faced each other. This was Boston College's second time in the Pinstripe Bowl, the last time coming in 2014 against Penn State.

"This has been a tremendous experience for our young men to be able to experience a bowl game," Boston College Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond said before the game." And to have a postseason opportunity in New York City during this time of year was eye-opening."

With the frigid conditions, the Hawkeyes had some trouble moving the ball and had to adapt to a different style of play. Stanley only threw for 99 yards and a touchdown while completing 8-of-15 passes in the win.

"I think we just committed a little more to some of the runs that were working in the first half, just ran those plays a little bit more," Stanley said. 

Iowa didn't need much offensively, but the Hawkeyes were able to stop the Eagles on the other side of the ball in the second half. "We just played a little tougher, a little grittier in the second half," Ferentz said. They were out-gained 175-101 in rushing yards and 208-99 in passing yards but still came away with the victory. 

Iowa started the game off strongly with an interception just three plays into the game, which set up a Miguel Recinos 24-yard field goal. With five seconds left in the opening quarter, Eagles freshman running back AJ Dillon rushed for a four-yard touchdown, giving Boston College a 7-3 lead.

Wadley returned the ensuing kickoff for 72 yards, setting up a Noah Fant eight-yard touchdown and putting the Hawkeyes back up. Wade found Tom Sweeney for a 39-yard touchdown to put Boston College up, 14-10. Colton Lichtenberg kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:29 left in the half, extending the Eagles' lead to a touchdown.

In the second half, the Hawkeyes quickly erased the deficit. Nick Easley caught a 32-yard pass to set up a five-yard Wadley touchdown, tying the game at 17. The drive lasted just seven plays, accounted for 58 yards and lasted 3:31. 

To start the fourth quarter, Iowa moved back ahead. Wadley caught a 17-yard pass to extend a 10-play drive, which resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Recinos. They would hold the lead only briefly as BC reeled off a seven-play, 55-yard drive to tie the game with a field goal, setting up the late-game heroics for Iowa.

Ferentz picked up his 143rd win, tying him with Hayden Fry for the most in school history. "Probably one of the best decisions I've made, outside of asking my wife to marry me, was coming to Iowa in 1981," Ferentz said. "The one commonality in my 28 years there, we've had great players to work with. I've worked with great coaches at all levels, great support staff. It's a tremendous campus. We've enjoyed outstanding leadership. And the state of Iowa is a great place to live."

Amani Hooker picked up 12 tackles and Josey Jewell had 11 tackles in the win. Darius Wade threw for 208 yards and a touchdown while completing 16-of-27 passes in the loss. Dillon ran for 157 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries in the loss. He had a strong first half, but the Hawkeyes were able to contain him in the second half en route to victory.

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