Second-half safeties lead Iowa past South Dakota State 7-3

Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa’s defense came up with two second-half safeties, and the Hawkeyes opened the season with a 7-3 win over South Dakota State on Saturday.

Neither team could do much offensively. Iowa finished with 166 yards of offense, while South Dakota State had 120. The two teams combined for more punts (21) than first downs (16).

“Obviously a very unusual scoring line,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You’ve got 3 (in the first quarter), 2 (in the third quarter), 2 in the fourth. I’ve never been around a game like that. But we’ll take it today.”

Iowa ranked seventh nationally with four defensive touchdowns last season, so the Hawkeyes are used to getting points from that side of the ball. And they needed them on a day when the offense struggled.

“The standard’s been set,” said linebacker Jack Campbell, who recorded one of the safeties and finished with 12 tackles.

The first safety came after Iowa’s Tory Taylor had his punt downed at the South Dakota State 1-yard line in the third quarter. One play later, Campbell grabbed running back Isaiah Davis after he took the handoff and brought him down one yard short of getting out of the end zone.

The second safety came in the fourth, when Iowa’s Joe Evans sacked quarterback Mark Gronowski in the end zone on a second-and-11 play.

“We’re trying to score as much as we can on the defensive side, however we can do it” said Iowa safety Quinn Schulte.

The Hawkeyes kept South Dakota State pinned in its own territory for most of the game. Ten of Taylor’s punts were downed inside the Jackrabbits’ 20-yard line, including one at the 2 and the one at the 1.

“Tory did a great job,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think if I’ve ever seen a punter so involved in a game either.”

Taylor averaged 47.9 yards per punt.

“Field position was really tough for us,” South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier said. “It’s tough to go out there and mentally think we’ve got to go 98 yards against this defense.”

Iowa took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on Aaron Blom’s 46-yard field goal. The only points for South Dakota State came on Hunter Dustman’s 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds left before halftime.

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras completed 11 of 25 passes for 109 yards. Leshon Williams had 72 rushing yards.

Gronowski was 10 of 26 passing for 87 yards. Davis had 18 carries for 50 yards.

INJURY REPORT

Iowa was without three offensive starters – wide receivers Keagan Johnson and Nico Ragaini, and running back Gavin Williams. All three missed time in preseason camp because of undisclosed injuries. Starting linebacker Jestin Jacobs left the game in the second quarter with an injury and did not return.

South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft, a second-team Associated Press FCS All-American last season, was injured after catching a pass in the first quarter and did not return.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa had one of the worst offenses in the nation last year despite a 10-win season, finishing 99th in scoring offense and 121st in total offense. Petras’ struggles led to plenty of boos from the sellout crowd at Kinnick Stadium, and with in-state rival Iowa State coming in next Saturday, there will be plenty of questions for Ferentz to answer. “I’ve still got a lot of confidence in him,” Ferentz said. “I think the noise on the outside is probably a lot louder than it is on the inside.”

South Dakota State, which fell to 2-10 all time against FBS teams, struggled to move the ball against Iowa’s defense, which was one of the best in the nation last season.

UP NEXT

South Dakota State: Hosts UC Davis next Saturday.

Iowa: Hosts Iowa State next Saturday.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.