IOWA CITY, Iowa — — Dragan Kesic made four field goals and Minnesota won at Iowa for the first time since 1999 to snap an eight-game losing streak, holding the No. 24 Hawkeyes to 12 yards in the second half in a victory with 12-10 on Saturday.
With Rosedale’s bronze statue of Floyd the Pig at stake in the cross-border rivalry, Iowa appeared to take the lead with 1:21 left when Cooper DeJean took a punt that had bounced near the Minnesota sideline and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. But after a replay review, DeJean was ruled to have called a fair catch before taking the snap, disallowing a return.
“The receiver makes a pointing gesture with his right hand and makes multiple waving gestures with his left hand,” referee Tim O’Day said via a pool reporter. “If you watch the video, you’ll see that. This waving motion of the left arm constitutes an invalid signal for a fair catch. So when the receiving team returns the ball, by rule it becomes dead.
O’Day said the examination showed “indisputable evidence that there was a swinging movement with the left hand. And then these rules apply.”
“They told me they were waving,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “What we’re being told before the game is there’s a wave up here overhead. Most people wave their arms when they run.
Said Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck: “(The official) thought it was a fair catch signal. I’m not an official, am I? But there was something. We’ve been called on this before when we’ve made some kind of move before the catch and the ball is dead right there. If it wasn’t, it was a great kid’s game.”
Iowa still had the ball, but Justin Walley intercepted Deacon Hill’s pass with a minute left.
Trailing 10-3 at halftime, the Gophers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) held Iowa (6-2, 3-2) to minus-2 yards in the third quarter.
“We knew we were going to have to play a long game today,” Fleck said. “You have to play the long game with them.”
Fleck recalled a conversation he had last summer with Illinois coach Brett Bielema when they talked about how to play against Iowa.
“He’s saying, ‘There’s a strategic way to beat Iowa. And you have to commit to it,” Fleck said. “As tempting as it is, as frustrating as it is at times, you have to stick with it.”
The Hawkeyes, ranked 130th in the nation in total offense, had 127 total yards while Hill, who started for the third time in his career, fumbled twice in Iowa territory while completing just 10 of 28 passes for 116 yards.
Iowa, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, was held to 11 yards after averaging 147 in wins over Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin.
Kesich kicked a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter, then hit field goals of 44 and 28 yards in the third quarter. His 31-yard field goal with 8:33 left gave the Gophers their first lead.
“We faced a lot of adversity today,” Fleck said. “We had every opportunity to give up. But we just wouldn’t. Our team, our players wouldn’t do it.”
Minnesota: The Gophers, who are coming off a bye week, found enough points against the Hawkeyes, wearing them down in the second half while taking advantage of Iowa’s offensive ineptitude. Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis was 10 of 25 for 126 yards but did not turn the ball over.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes’ offensive woes have shown no signs of improvement, and a defense that was depleted in the second half couldn’t find a way to stop the Gophers. Iowa enters the bye week atop the Big Ten West, but with plenty of questions heading into the final month of the season. “Clearly, there’s a lot we can do better,” Ferentz said.
Minnesota: Hosts Michigan State on Saturday.
Iowa: at Northwestern on Nov. 4.
—— AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football