IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's worst fears were realized. The Hawkeyes had over a half of football left to play and not a single healthy running back at their disposal.
As it turned out, a sturdy walk-on fullback with 8 career rushing yards was enough to carry Iowa to a win it desperately needed.
Mark Weisman rushed for 113 yards and three short touchdowns as Iowa held off Northern Iowa 27-16 on Saturday.
James Vandenberg added 228 yards passing for the Hawkeyes (2-1), who beat the Panthers, a Football Championship Subdivision program, for the 15th straight time despite losing backs Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon to injuries.
Weisman, a sophomore with two carries coming into the game, scored from 1, 1 and 2 yards out to help Iowa avoid its third straight home loss dating to 2011.
"Weisman stepped in and did a great job," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Can't say enough about the job he did, being prepared and then also playing very well."
Sawyer Kollmorgen had 245 yards passing and an interception for Northern Iowa (1-2). The Panthers have lost to Wisconsin and Iowa on the road this season by a combined total of just 16 points.
The Hawkeyes nearly lost to Northern Iowa in 2009 before rallying for a 17-16 victory in a season that later saw them win the Orange Bowl.
This one wasn't quite that close — but Iowa still wasn't comfortable until late in the fourth quarter.
Iowa opened up a 24-13 lead just four plays into the third quarter, as Kevonte Martin-Manley's 51-yard reception set up Weisman's final TD of the day. But the Hawkeyes followed with a pair of three-and-outs, and they needed a key stop to hold Northern Iowa to Tyler Sievertsen's 25-yard field goal, which made it 24-16 late in the third quarter.
Iowa got to the Panthers 1 early in the fourth, and the Hawkeyes settled for a 19-yard field goal from Mike Meyer.
Northern Iowa stuffed Weisman on a similar situation with 2:54 left, but the Panthers didn't have nearly enough time to mount a serious comeback.
David Johnson had 77 yards rushing, 77 more receiving and a touchdown for Northern Iowa.