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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Falter in Second Half, Lose Big to Gators

Second half struggles hurt Iowa as Florida pounds them in the 2017 Outback Bowl.

After finishing the regular season on an extremely high note, the Iowa Hawkeyes met the Florida Gators in the 2017 Outback Bowl.

The matchup pitted two of the better defensive teams in the country and fans were expecting a defensive struggle. After Florida turned the ball over on an interception during the first drive of the game the Hawkeyes took over looking to capitalize. Unfortunately, they wound up going three and out to give the ball back to the Gators. Florida turned it over on another interception a few plays later and the Iowa offense was in business deep in Florida territory. 

After a 5 play 9 yard drive, the Iowa offense found themselves in a fourth down. Kirk Ferentz chose to try a field goal and true freshman, Keith Duncan, connected making the score 3-0.

Florida connected on a field goal a drive later to tie the score at 3. The teams traded punts before Iowa put together a nice drive. The Hawkeyes went 10 plays and 61 yards, but came up short when they went for it on 4th and goal from the one. It appeared Iowa's C.J. Beathard crossed the plane on 3rd and goal, but the refs ruled him down at the half yard line. The Florida defense then stopped LeShun Daniels on 4th and goal to force a turnover. 

The teams traded punts again, but Florida finally broke through on their next drive. They ran one play, a bubble screen, to Mark Thompson and he scampered 85 yards to give Florida a touchdown lead with under two minutes left in the first half. Iowa gave it one last shot, but wound up punting back to Florida before the half. Florida ran a few plays, but nothing came of it as the teams went to the locker room with Florida leading, 10-3. 

The Hawkeyes received the ball to start the second half and put together a very nice drive. They traveled 63 yards over 13 plays, but came up short on a 3rd and short inside the red zone. Ferentz and staff chose to kick a field goal, but Duncan wound up missing this attempt, which kept the score at 10-3. 

Florida then responded with a 12 play, 80 yard drive over 7 minutes to stretch the lead to 17-3. Things were looking bleak for the Hawkeyes. Iowa desperately needed to respond. 

Instead, a Florida defender intercepted a tipped Beathard pass and took it back 58 yards for the score. The Gators now led, 24-3. After the teams traded punts once again, Beathard tossed yet another interception, which led to a Florida field goal. That made the count 27-3 and the game was pretty much all over. 

Florida would tack on another field goal and the teams traded punts as the clock ticked away. As the clock hit zero's the Gators had defeated the Hawkeyes by a final of 30-3. 

The Hawkeyes finish the season with an 8-5 record. Beathard finished 7-23 for 55 yards and 3 interceptions. Akrum Wadley finished out his junior campaign nicely, rushing for 115 yards on 22 carries. 

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