Tim Hiller and Brandon West, who hooked up for WMU's first score of the afternoon en route to the win. Hiller threw for a remarkable 367 yards and three touchdowns, while West rushed for 116 yards and racked up 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. West also became the WMU single-season all-purpose yards record holder 135 all-purpose yards in the first half (49 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards, and 18 kick return yards.)
The Bronco offense tallied 489 yards of total offense, while the Hawkeyes totaled 397 yards. The Brown and Gold defense played their part as well, and early in the second quarter they were shutting the Hawkeyes out, 19-0.
After the Western Michigan defense forced a Hawkeye three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Hiller led the Broncos down the field early on the way to the end zone in only five plays. Hiller got things started with a 29-yard completion to tight end Branden Ledbetter all the way down to the Iowa 32-yard line. Two plays later, Hiller set up a screen to West up the left sideline and West took it 32-yards to the end zone thanks to a great block by offensive tackle Phillip Swanson. Mike Jones’ extra point attempt was no good, giving the Broncos a 6-0 lead with 11:39 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hawkeye return man Derrell Johnson-Koulianos tried to make a little too much happen and was stripped from behind. WMU’s Jonathon Wright recovered the fumble at the Hawkeye 30-yard line, sending the Bronco’s offense back onto the field. The Brown and Gold were held to a 30-yard yard field by Mike Jones, his tenth of the season, which gave the Broncos a 9-0 lead.
Western Michigan’s offense again got into the red zone, with first down receptions by Herb Martin and a solid rushing attack from West. After two passes fell incomplete in the end zone, the Broncos were again held to a Jones field goal, this time from 23-yards out. The Broncos took a 12-0 lead into the second quarter, and the Hawkeyes had no response for the Bronco rushing attack.
Mid-way through the second quarter, Iowa quarter Jake Christensen took a shot deep toward the end zone, but cornerback E.J. Biggers ran underneath the rainbow heave and intercepted the pass. Biggers returned the ball 38-yards to give the Broncos great field position and maintain all of the momentum. Hiller and the Bronco offense came out again and never missed a beat. Hiller threw for 63 yards on the drive, including a 28 yard completion to Nic Saad and a ten yard completion to West. With just under seven minutes left, WMU was faced with a fourth-and-one from the Iowa 34-yard line. Hiller took the snap and faked a handoff to West, then found freshman tight end Anthony Middleton wide open off the play fake for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Broncos an astonishing 19-0 lead.
On Iowa’s next drive, it was forced to punt after WMU’s stuffed the Hawkeyes. On fourth-and-ten Iowa punted the ball away, but Fernand Kashama ran into the punter and gave Iowa a first down. After the penalty, Christensen drove the Hawkeyes down the field on their way to an 11-yard touchdown pass to Trey Stross with 1:21 left in the half. Daniel Murray missed the extra point, making it 19-6 at halftime in favor of the Broncos.
Western Michigan took the ball down the field with ease on the first possession of the second half. Hiller started things off with a 21-yard completion to Jamarko Simmons, and West hauled off a 26-yard run on the next play. A controversial fourth-and-eleven conversion from Hiller to Martin kept the drive alive, but the Broncos couldn’t get in the end zone. Jones lined up for his fourth field goal attempt of the game, but had his kick blocked for the second time, leaving the score 19-6 and turning the ball over to the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeye offense took over and made a statement on the ground, relying heavily on the rushing game of Christensen and Albert Young to get them all the way down to the six-yard line. On second and goal, Christensen found senior fullback Tom Busch in the end zone on a play fake to cut the Bronco lead to only six points with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
The very next possession for the Broncos, Hiller hooked up with Simmons on third-and-eight for a 39-yard completion on a circus catch that was bobbled between him and Bradley Fletcher, before Simmons hauled in the ball while lying on the turf. Two plays later, Hiller threaded a needle between two Iowa defender and found Middleton in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown, the freshman’s second of the night and Hillers third. The two-point conversion failed, making it 25-13 with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
Iowa answered the call on their next possession with a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Myers, once again on play-action. Murray missed his second extra point of the night, making it 25-19 with just less than 11 minutes left in the game.
With just under six minutes to go, Christensen attempted a shovel pass that was deflected then intercepted by Desman Stephan. The Broncos took over on downs and West went to work once again on the ground. They got inside the red zone again, up by only six points. After three unsuccessful attempts at the end zone, WMU was held to an extremely important 30-yard field goal attempt by walk-on kicker Chris Kelly. Kelly kick sailed through the uprights, making it 28-19 with 1:13 left in the game.
Down by two scores with only a minute left and no timeouts, the Hawkeyes were in quite a predicament. Young hauled off a long rush to start the drive, but with only 17 seconds left Iowa was forced to go for it on fourth down. Christensen’s pass fell incomplete, and the Broncos left Iowa City victorious, 28-19.
Western Michigan will host Temple next Saturday, November 24th at 2 p.m. at Waldo Stadium.