Tampa Bay Sports Day

OUTBACK: Gators Stifle Iowa for 30-3 Bowl Win in Tampa

Photos by Nancy Beecher

TAMPA – Florida made its return to the Outback Bowl Monday a triumphant one with a 30-3 win over Iowa before 51,119 at Raymond James Stadium.

“That was a heck of a game for us. That’s a really good team we played, a very physical team, a team that knows how to play, how to prepare. I think it speaks volumes for our guys and their approach to what they were willing to do to get ready to go win a bowl game in January,” said Florida head coach Jim McElwain.

It was McElwain’s first bowl victory as Florida’s head coach. The Gators finished the season 9-4. Iowa fell to 8-5. The 27-point victory marks Florida’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game since beating Cincinnati by 27 points in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.

An early lead on a Keith Duncan 36-yard field goal was all the scoring the Hawkeyes could muster. The game was tied 3-3 at the end of the first quarter. The three points surrendered by the Gators defense is a new school bowl game record. The previous record was six points allowed against Iowa in the 1983 Gator Bowl and  Penn State in the 1998 Citrus Bowl.

Things went south quickly for the Hawks in the second quarter after Iowa tried to convert on a fourth and goal from the one. Running back LeShun Daniels was tackled for a 2-yard loss by defensive back Marcell Harris. The ball went over on downs, but more importantly the play seemed to take the air out of the offense.

“That was huge. I think some other big plays, obviously, in the game, the turnovers — for us to give up two interceptions early in the game like that and hang in there, that says a lot for our resolve, and then to be able to get a couple there late in the game, I think that was really good,” added McElwain.

Florida senior QB Austin Appleby was 14 of 25 for 222 yards. He threw touchdown passes to Mark Thompson and DeAndre Goolsby.

“You know what better way to send out the seniors then to win in the Outback Bowl. Proud of the way our guys didn’t panic early,” said Appleby on his final game. “We knew that Iowa was going to come out swinging and they made some good plays on us. We had a little bit of bad luck early and we didn’t panic. Defense kept us in the game once we got it rollin’.”

Appleby’s 85-yard scoring pass to Thompson was the longest pass and scoring pass in Outback Bowl history. Old mark was set by Georgia’s Aaron Murray in 2012 on an 80-yard pass to Tavares King.

Eddy Pineiro kicked field goals of 44, 25 and 48 yards.

Iowa QB C.J. Beathard  was 7 of 23 for 55 yards and threw three interceptions. One returned 58-yards for a score by Chauncey Gardner. Gardner finished with two interceptions and was named the game’s MVP.

Florida had four interceptions returned for touchdowns in 2016, which is the most since returning four in 2010.

With 94 rushing yards Florida’s Jordan Scarlett eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for his career with a total of 1,070 yards. Iowa’s Akrum Wadley ran for 120 yards on 22 carries to lead all rushers.

BOWL NOTES:  Several bowl records were tied of fell Monday. Fewest First Downs Allowed – 11 – allowed by Iowa to Florida; breaks previous record of 12 by Alabama to Michigan in 1988….Fewest Passing First Downs Allowed: 3 – allowed by Florida to Iowa, ties 1988 record by Alabama to Michigan…Passing Yards Allowed: 55 – by Florida to Iowa; breaks previous record of 65 by Michigan to Alabama in 1997…Fewest Total Yards Allowed: 226 – by Florida to Iowa; breaks previous record of 234 by Georgia to Wisconsin in 1998…Fewest Penalties by a Team: 1 – by Iowa, ties record by Michigan in 1988.