Impressive finish: Iowa hopes win locks up first-round home game
IOWA — After taking care of business on the field with a 32-7 win over St. Louis Friday night, the Iowa Yellow Jackets will wait for Sunday, hoping the victory in the regularseason finale is enough to move them high enough in the power ratings to host a first-round playoff game next week.
State playoff pairings will be announced Sunday. Iowa (3-2, 2-1) entered the week 22nd. The top 16 teams play at home in the first round.
The Yellow Jackets controlled the first half, holding St. Louis (2-5, 0-4) to 80 yards of offense and forcing a turnover on the game’s opening drive.
Josh Jackson scooped up a fumble at midfield and returned it 23 yards to the St. Louis 27 on the fourth play of the game. Iowa cashed in three plays later on an 11-yard run by Cejae Ceasar.
The Jackets added another score in the second quarter with a 16-play, 84-yard drive. On fourth-and-goal from the four, running back Koltin LeBleu caught a deflected pass and snaked his way into the end zone to give Iowa a 13-0 lead.
Jackets quarterback Gene Natali completed all seven first-half attempts for 62 yards. He finished 11 of 12 for 186 yards.
“It was mostly the offensive line,” Natali said of his big night. “They gave me the time to make plays. On offense we can run and pass, that’s our biggest strength.”
The Jackets ran for 219 yards. Deville had 162 combined yards rushing and receiving while Ceasar ran for 72 yards and three touchdowns.
“Those guys have grown up in the system the last couple of years,” Iowa head coach Tommy Johns said. “They took their bumps and bruises when we had a young team but now they are the ones making the plays and it is nice to see.”
St. Louis scored on a 14-yard run by Hank Milligan.
Head coach Chad Lavergne said his team, which broke a four-game losing streak last week, hasn’t found a groove.
“We’re still looking to develop some consistency,” he said. “Hats off (to Iowa), they played well and their defense did not let us get into any sort of rhythm. Defensively, we played well at times, but they made plays when they had to.”
Rick Hickman / American Press