Sept. 9, 2009
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IOWA CITY, IA —Trailing 10-3 at halftime last Saturday to Northern Iowa, every Hawkeye knew they needed to come out of the Kinnick Stadium locker room with more intensity and play better against a talented Panther football team. One player in particular who stepped up his play after a sluggish 30 minutes was quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
Stanzi’s completion percentage rose in the second half due to accurate throws and fantastic catches by his receiving corps. He misfired on only four pass attempts (16 of 20, 80 percent), throwing for 179 yards on Iowa’s final six offensive possessions and tossing the game-winning touchdown to tight end Tony Moeaki early in the fourth quarter. The junior quarterback feathered a beautiful pass to Moeaki in the back of the end zone from six yards out to put the Hawkeyes in front, 17-13, at the 13:18 mark of the fourth quarter.
Moeaki was Stanzi’s favorite receiver Saturday, finding the senior 10 times for 83 yards, including nine receptions in the second half. The 10 receptions was a game and career-high. Stanzi said it was a relief having Moeaki back on the field.
“It was great having him out there because he brings a lot of versatility, not only on the passing team but he is a heck of a blocker,” said Stanzi.
Stanzi also found other targets, distributing the ball to a total of seven receivers. Marvin McNutt had a career-high five receptions, Trey Stross caught three, while Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Allen Reisner, Paul Chaney, Jr., and Brett Morse all had one reception.
Stanzi entered Saturday’s game 21st in career passing yardage at Iowa and finished the day ranked 16th. He moved past Randy Reiners (2007-08), Matt Szykowny (1960-62), Jim Hartlieb (1989-92) and Phil Suess (1977-80) after completing a career-high 22 passes for 242 yards. His career passing numbers now stand at 2,198 yards, just four shy of passing Nathan Chandler (2002-03) for 15th place.
It seemed as if Stanzi got into a rhythm on Iowa’s second offensive possession of the second half. With the Black and Gold trailing 13-3, Stanzi engineered a six-play, 70-yard touchdown scoring drive in only 2-minutes, 46-seconds. The native of Mentor, Ohio, was a perfect on all four pass attempts for 53 yards on Iowa’s first four plays of the drive before running back Adam Robinson culminated the drive with rushes of six and 11 yards (touchdown).
“I think once we got our game plan down, we were more consistent with what we wanted in the running and passing game. That’s when things started to settled down for me,” said Stanzi.
Coach Kirk Ferentz noted that Stanzi played well, but there is room for improvement.
“There are things he’ll have to do better — a few throws he missed and a couple reads here-and-there,” said Ferentz. “But he’s going to be fine. He’s a quality player, he works hard and he’s going to be just fine.”
Stanzi applauded Iowa’s defense against the Panthers and recognized that the offense needs to put together a full 60 minutes and execute better in order for the team to successful.
“We had one great half of offense but we need to improve because we can’t just expect to play one good half and win,” said Stanzi. “When we did need to step up, the offense did a good job. The defense was solid the whole game and we just need to put more points on the board to help them out.”