DeJean’s big plays help Iowa top Wisconsin, 24-10

Nov 12, 2022, 2:17 AM | Updated: 4:34 pm
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown du...

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

              Wisconsin running back Isaac Guerendo (20) runs from Iowa defensive lineman Ethan Hurkett (49) and defensive lineman Noah Shannon (99) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins (34) celebrates with teammates after recovering a blocked punt during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) runs from Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Wisconsin wide receiver Keontez Lewis celebrates after catching a 51-yard pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Wisconsin wide receiver Keontez Lewis (3) catches a 51-yard pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz is sacked by Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (91) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta (84) looks to catch a pass ahead of Wisconsin cornerback Alexander Smith, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. The pass was incomplete. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
            
              Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Cooper DeJean returned an interception for a touchdown and set up another score with a 41-yard punt return as Iowa defeated Wisconsin 24-10 on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) moved into a tie for the Big Ten West lead with their third consecutive win. Iowa, ranked 129th nationally in total offense, had just 142 yards and averaged 2.1 yards per play, but took advantage of plays made by its defense and special teams.

DeJean, a sophomore cornerback who also had 10 tackles, had a 32-yard interception return late in the first half that gave Iowa a 14-3 lead. Then, with the Hawkeyes holding a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, DeJean’s punt return gave Iowa the ball at the Wisconsin 18-yard line. Five plays later quarterback Spencer Petras scored on a 1-yard dive.

Iowa’s first touchdown also followed a special teams play in the second quarter. Deontae Craig blocked a punt by Wisconsin’s Andy Vujnovich and Jay Higgins recovered at the Badgers’ 17-yard line. Kaleb Johnson scored on a 4-yard run two plays later to give Iowa a 7-3 lead.

Wisconsin (5-5, 3-4), which had 227 yards of offense, scored first on a 32-yard field goal from Nate Van Zelst. Graham Mertz threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Keontez Lewis with 52 seconds left in the first half to cut Iowa’s lead to 14-10.

Iowa’s Drew Stevens had a 44-yard field goal with 2:54 left in the game for the final points.

Petras, who threw for just 94 yards, was sacked six times. Mertz threw for 176 yards but was sacked four times.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin, which had won eight of the last 10 games against Iowa, was able to get some yardage against the Hawkeyes, who rank in the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. But Mertz’s two interceptions and a fourth-quarter fumble were costly.

This was an elimination game for the West Division lead, and Iowa came up with the biggest plays. The Hawkeyes are now part of the four-way tie for the lead with Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota, and they became bowl eligible.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: At Nebraska on November 19.

Iowa: At Minnesota on November 19.

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DeJean’s big plays help Iowa top Wisconsin, 24-10