Lowery emerges as playmaker of Hawkeye defense


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The Iowa defense made plays and scored points on Sept. 21, keying the team’s blowout 59-3 victory over Western Michigan.

Bronco quarterbacks were intercepted three times during the game, and two were returned for touchdowns by senior cornerback B.J. Lowery.

Lowery’s plays accounted for two of the four Iowa non-offensive touchdowns. Kevonte Martin-Manley also added two scores on punt returns.

“To have four touchdowns, non-offensive touchdowns in a game, that’s pretty hard to explain,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I hope we didn’t use them all up. But it’s good to see that, too.

“We haven’t had an abundance of big plays offensively or special teams-wise where we’ve reversed it and scored points, and that was great to see.”

Lowery and Martin-Manley were both a part of the 2010 Hawkeye recruiting class. And usually in practice, they’re competing against each other. For them to be making highlight-reel plays together, Lowery said, it gave the players a unique feeling on the sideline and in the locker room after the game.

“It was a special day for us, because usually we’re going head to head,” Lowery said. “We’re always competing against each other. But today, with what we were able to do, it’s a big step for us.

“All those guys, we came in together. So to see someone else make a play like that is pretty big for all of us. We’re celebrating together.”

Senior linebacker James Morris noticed the progress Lowery made in the off-season. His hard work and dedication, Morris said, makes Lowery’s recent emergence as the playmaker of the Iowa defense unsurprising.

Lowery has 3 interceptions in the Hawkeyes’ last two games. His two touchdown performance on Sept. 21 followed an Iowa State game in which the native of Cincinnati made the highlight play of the year by grabbing a leaping, one-handed interception in the fourth quarter.

“I was hoping that maybe I’d get one, too,” Morris said about Lowery’s interceptions. “But really I’m excited for BJ. He’s a great guy and practices hard. He deserves all those things. It’s not a coincidence, you see the plays he makes both last week and this week. He’s really playing his best football right now.”

Iowa will take a 3-1 record into Big Ten play, which is scheduled to begin this weekend. Minnesota is the first challenge in a daunting conference schedule for the Hawkeyes.

Of the eight scheduled conference games, six are against teams that are either ranked or received votes in the latest AP top 25. 

The win over Western Michigan was a much needed boost for Iowa, players said, and it was also a sign of serious progress. They believe they’ll need to continue that as the season goes on, though, if the team is to return to postseason play.

“For us it’s going to be about how we improve as the year goes on,” Morris said. “We need to improve on a week to week basis more than other teams. And if we do, that’s really the only shot we have of going where we want to go.”

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