Diamond in the rough

Iowa ends bowl drought by beating Boston College at Yankee Stadium

AP PHOTO • University of Iowa right guard Sean Welsh (79) holds the Pinstripe Bowl trophy high as confetti falls after the Hawkeyes defeated Boston College 27-20 on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in New York.

NEW YORK — Akrum Wadley had never been to Yankee Stadium, even though he grew up about 20 miles across the river in New Jersey. On his first visit, he seemed to bring out all of Newark to cheer him on. His 40 tickets to give away weren’t enough to satiate his hometown fans.

“I couldn’t get more tickets,” he said, laughing.

He had all his fans in New Jersey to the ones freezing inside Yankee Stadium to the black-and-gold faithful in Iowa that packed bars roaring in approval: Wadley’s homecoming ended with an MVP trophy that helped put the Hawkeyes’ bowl misery on ice.

Wadley rushed, received and returned in dazzling fashion on a frozen field and Iowa beat Boston College 27-20 in the frigid Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday night to snap a five-game bowl losing streak.

“You can’t pay for moments like that,” Wadley said.

The only milestone that eluded him was the winning touchdown: Drake Kulick fought for a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter on his only carry of the game that clinched the win for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes (8-5) had been the only team in the nation to lose a bowl game in each of the last four seasons. Iowa had last won a bowl game in 2010 and started the losing streak the next season.

It ended in New York.

The Hawkeyes used their first sack of the game late in the fourth to spark the winning drive. Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson hit Darius Wade, and Parker Hesse recovered a fumble at the BC 45.

Nate Stanley’s pass to Nate Wieting on a rollout was ruled a touchdown until a review showed the tight end was down at the 1. No worries. Kulick got the call over Wadley, who had 283 total yards in his final game, and barged through for the go-ahead score. The smattering of Iowa fans went wild and Josh Jackson gave them reason to stay on their feet when he sealed the win with an interception.

“For our team to come out the way they did in the second half, it was a breakthrough moment for us,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Boston College (7-6) had nothing on its final drive and that ended an otherwise miserable day at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees’ postseason games in October seemed downright balmy compared to the kickoff temperature of 23 degrees and a wind chill that made it feel like 12 degrees. The stadium turf was akin to running on ice and the conditions forced players to change from cleats to sneakers to get some grip. The most common huddle was the one around the sideline heaters.

Boston College’s AJ Dillon found the field just to his liking, and ripped off a 66-yard run in the second quarter and had 126 yards rushing overall in the first half. He had a 4-yard TD run in the first quarter. His monster half helped the Eagles hold a 281-56 edge in total yards, a staggering discrepancy that made little impact on the scoreboard.

“I thought we moved the ball well given what the conditions were,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said.

The Hawkeyes had two clutch plays that kept it close: Iowa safety Jake Gervase intercepted a pass on the third play of the game and returned it to the BC 6. The Hawkeyes got a field goal. And Wadley returned a kickoff 72 yards that led to a touchdown on Stanley’s 8-yard TD pass to Noah Fant. With a short field, Iowa was stout and kept it at 17-10 at halftime.

Wadley, a two-time 1,000 yard rusher, scored on a 5-yard run in the third and Miguel Recinos and Colton Lichtenberg swapped field goals in the fourth to make it 20-all with 8:09 left in the game.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa: Ferentz tied Hayden Fry for first on Iowa’s career wins list with 143.

Boston College: The Eagles are still trying for their first eight-win season since 2009.

THE WAVE

Iowa fans ended the first quarter with “The Wave.” Iowa fans at Kinnick Stadium turn and wave to patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, a 12-story building that sits right across the street. On game days, patients and their families can watch the game and, after the first quarter, wave back. The Hawkeyes kept the tradition going at Yankee Stadium.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BOWL GAME

The Yankees remain committed to hosting the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The wintry temps kept most of the 37,667 fans out of the seats and the stadium was sparsely populated in the second half.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Jackson faces a big decision. Jackson did not announce if he will come back for his senior season. Jackson’s numbers, along with his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and his abundance of physical gifts, have left many NFL draft pundits pegging him as a possible first-round pick in 2018. Jackson redshirted his first season and is set to graduate in May. He finished with eight interceptions.

Boston College: The Eagles return a nice chunk of their starting offense and should again contend for another seven-win season. Under coach Steve Addazio, the Eagles have had four seven-win seasons in his five years at BC.

Iowa 27, Boston 20

At New York

Iowa 3 7 7 10 — 27

Boston 7 10 0 3 — 20

First Quarter

IOW–FG Recinos 24, 12:59

BC–Dillon 4 run (Lichtenberg kick), :05

Second Quarter

IOW–Fant 8 pass from Stanley (Recinos kick), 13:18

BC–Sweeney 39 pass from D.Wade (Lichtenberg kick), 9:35

BC–FG Lichtenberg 30, 1:29

Third Quarter

IOW–Wadley 5 run (Recinos kick), 7:11

Fourth Quarter

IOW–FG Recinos 38, 11:32

BC–FG Lichtenberg 24, 8:09

IOW–Kulick 1 run (Recinos kick), 3:09

A–37,667.

TEAM STATISTICS

IOW BC

First downs 13 16

Rushes-yards 39-101 43-175

Passing 99 208

Comp-Att-Int 8-15-0 16-27-2

Return Yards 172 93

Punts-Avg. 7-32.85 4-35.25

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 3-20 6-57

Time of Possession 27:25 32:35

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Iowa, Wadley 22-88, Butler 10-32, Kulick 1-1, (Team) 1-(minus 1), Stanley 5-(minus 19). Boston, Dillon 32-157, Hilliman 4-16, T.Smith 2-8, J.Smith 1-1, D.Wade 4-(minus 7).

PASSING–Iowa, Stanley 8-15-0-99. Boston, D.Wade 16-27-2-208.

RECEIVING–Iowa, Wadley 2-24, Fant 2-8, Easley 1-32, Wieting 1-17, VandeBerg 1-9, Hockenson 1-9. Boston, Sweeney 7-137, Callinan 3-20, White 2-27, J.Smith 2-18, Hilliman 1-5, Levy 1-1.

MISSED FIELD GOALS–Lichtenberg 36.