IOWA CITY — Kevonte Martin-Manley dubbed his performance a personal best. B.J. Lowery downplayed his own career day.
Both upperclassmen rewrote part of Iowa’s history book while each providing two highlight-reel sequences for touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 59-3 blowout win against Western Michigan on Saturday.
Martin-Manley twice benefitted from low, rugby-style punts that gave him room to operate in the second quarter. The senior wide receiver took the first ball from Western Michigan sophomore J. Schroeder and followed his blockers down the left sideline for an 83-yard score with 11:45 left before halftime.
After Iowa forced a quick three-and-out, Martin-Manley cut left to right through a crowd to pay dirt from 63 yards away. The 6-footer said he didn’t know he would make it two straight until he was within about 15 feet of the pylon.
“It was one of the fondest memories or images I have in my head,” Martin-Manley said. “It was one of the best feelings and the most fun moments I ever had on a football field. I was smiling from ear to ear.”
The feat had only been accomplished by two other players in Big Ten history. Earl Girard did it at Wisconsin in 1947 and Garcia Lane also broke away twice for Ohio State in 1983.
Lowery, a 5-foot-11 senior defensive back, followed up his sensational one-handed pick at Iowa State last week with a school-record two pick-sixes Saturday.
He jumped in front of a pass by Western Michigan quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen for a 35-yard score with 56 seconds left in the first half. Then he did it again on Western Michigan’s first play after the break, scoring from 13 yards out.
“It doesn’t mean much; it feels amazing for me right now,” Lowery said. “I’m just happy I was able to contribute to the team today.”
Iowa hadn’t returned an interception for a touchdown since Christian Kirksey did it at Indiana in 2011.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who jokingly credited all four touchdowns to good coaching, said it was good to see the Hawkeyes break a big play of any kind after a slow start to the season.
“It’s just one of those things — you can’t explain that,” Ferentz said. “To have four touchdowns, non-offensive touchdowns in a game, that’s pretty hard to explain. I hope we didn’t use them all up.”
Martin-Manley, who grew up a two-hour drive away from Western Michigan’s campus in Kalamazoo, said he’ll enjoy some bragging rights around his hometown of Pontiac. He and Western Michigan freshman linebacker Lucas Cherocci were teammates at Brother Rice High School.
One record Martin-Manley didn’t quite get was Nile Kinnick’s single-game record of 201 punt return yards. The current Iowa player had 184 Saturday after his team entered with a total of 34 return yards on the season.
“I think it’s OK if that (record) stayed right where it’s at,” Ferentz said. “Not that we would have held (Martin-Manley) back, but maybe we would have thought about it, actually. That one needs to stay. I hope we press it again, though.”