Seventh Heaven for Hawkeyes, 27-17

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Sept. 19, 2009

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kinnick Stadium seemed like Seventh Heaven this afternoon as the University of Iowa dropped Pac-10 foe Arizona, 27-17, in front of the 38th sellout in the last 39 home games.

When Hawkeye strong safety Tyler Sash intercepted his seventh pass in the last five games, it was almost guaranted that Iowa would notch its seventh consecutive victory — tying the Hawkeyes with Mississippi and Southern Mississippi for the second-longest winning streak in the nation.

“We like that,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We knew it would be tough today and it certainly was. Our players played well.”

Iowa scored 20 consecutive points during a 34-minute span from the second through fourth quarters.

Hawkeye running back Adam Robinson netted his first 100-yard rushing performance, gaining 101 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. One of many defensive stars was end Adrian Clayborn, who made six tackles, forced a fumble and had a quarterback sack.

“We had something to prove and I think all of us as a unit showed something,” Clayborn said. “We had a fire under us today to prove that we could do so much better.”

The Hawkeyes improved to 3-0 and will open the Big Ten Confernece season Sept. 26 at Penn State. Arizona (2-1) lost for the first time in its last five games.

The Hawkeyes converted 10 times (out of 19 tries) on third down and controlled nearly 38 minutes of game clock.

“It was a great, great team effort on all accounts,” Ferentz said. “It was a hard-fought game. We had tremendous respect for Arizona. Nothing came easy and we’re happy with the way our guys stuck with it and grew up in the second half.”

Iowa rolled to 19 first downs and 338 total yards. UI quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 20 of 32 passes for 205 yards. Robinson, Brandon Wegher and Paul Chaney, Jr., picked up 163 yards on the ground.

Not to be outdone was a Hawkeye defense that limited Arizona to eight first downs and 253 total yards.

“Our defense did a great job,” Ferentz said.

Jeremiha Hunter led the Hawkeye defense with seven tackles. Clayborn and Pat Angerer added six apiece. Iowa had five tackles for loss and five pass breakups.

The last time Iowa defeated a team from the Pac-10 was on Sept. 20, 2003, with a 21-2 win against No. 16 Arizona State.

“I have to give Iowa a lot of credit,” Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. “I thought they played very well. They’re a very disciplined, well-coached football team, which we knew coming in. Defensively, they’re very strong in a lot of different ways. I’m impressed with their philosophy and their kids, the way they play. Their defense was very disruptive to us most of the day.”

“We had something to prove and I think all of us as a unit showed something. We had a fire under us today to prove that we could do so much better.”
UI defensive end
Adrian Clayborn

A 2-yard plunge Robinson and a PAT kick by Daniel Murray gave Iowa a 7-0 lead just 4:11 into the contest. Robinson was the workhorse on a 10-play drive with plenty of Hawkeye heroes, carrying five times for 23 yards. Marvin McNutt picked up 15 yards with a one-handed catch-and-run that took the ball from the Iowa 49 into Arizona territory for the first time to the 36. The biggest gainer of the series was a 21-yard completion on a crossing route from Stanzi to Colin Sandeman. From there, Robinson carried four straight times.

Arizona’s defense was responsible for knotting the score. After back-to-back four-yard runs by Wegher, the Hawkeyes went to the air, but Stanzi was intercepted by Terevin Wade, who returned 38 yards for a score. The kick by Alex Zendejas tied the score, 7-7, with 6:57 left in the quarter.

Iowa regained momentum with a 13-play drive that advanced to the Wildcat 31. But on third-and-8, Stanzi was sacked by Corey Hall for a loss of 15, taking the Hawkeyes out of scoring position. The sack spoiled a nice drive that exhausted the rest of the first quarter. Iowa converted its first three times on third down during the series, Stanzi completed 4 of 6 passes for 25 yards, and Robinson rushed four more times for 21 yards.

Iowa controlled 12:43 of the first quarter (to 2:17 by Arizona) game clock and outgained the Wildcats 108 yards to 7. The Hawkeyes also had a 23-play advantage (26 to 3).

A 58-yard gain by Arizona running back Nic Grigsby on third-and-6 set up a go-ahead field goal by the Wildcats with 9:55 left in the half. Grigsby’s jaunt went sideline-to-sideline before Hawkeye cornerback Amari Spievey pulled him down at the Iowa 1. The Hawkeye defense pushed Arizona back three yards and the Wildcats had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Zendejas to take a 10-7 lead.

Iowa seized the lead back on its ensuing drive and the Hawkeyes did it with big plays. The first was a 43-yard rush by Robinson on third-and-23, and the second was a 34-yard completion from Stanzi to McNutt on second-and-20. The reception by McNutt took the ball to the Wildcat 1 and Robinson dove in for his second score of the day with 6:28 left in the half. Murray’s kick gave Iowa a four-point lead at 14-10.

“It was a great, great team effort on all accounts. It was a hard-fought game. We had tremendous respect for Arizona. Nothing came easy and we’re happy with the way our guys stuck with it and grew up in the second half.”
UI head coach
Kirk Ferentz

The Wildcats drove 58 yards on seven plays and lined up for a 39-yard field goal attempt with just under three minutes left in the half. Instead of trying for a one-point deficit, Arizona attempted a fake, but Iowa’s Brett Greenwood stopped Keenyn Crier for no gain and the Hawkeyes regained possession. Iowa defensive tackle Karl Klug made a timely defensive play by tipping a third-down pass attempt by Matt Scott at the Iowa 23.

The Hawkeyes maintained their statistical advantages during the second quarter, finishing the first half with advantages in first downs (12 to 4), total yards (194 to 159) and possession time (18:28 to 11:32). Robinson led all rushers with 88 yards on 12 carries and Stanzi was 9 of 18 for 101 yards. McNutt, Sandeman, Allen Reisner and Wegher all had two receptions.

In a field-position third period, plays by Klug and Chaney, allowed Iowa to take a 17-10 lead. The Hawkeye defense produced a three-and-out with Klug sealing the Wildcats’ doom with an 8-yard sack of Scott on third-and-10. Chaney erased more than half of a 45-yard Arizona punt with a 24-yard retun into Wildcat territory at the 47. A seven-play drive by the Hawkeyes took the ball to the Arizona 3, where Murray drilled a 20-yard field goal.

Sash zapped any Arizona come-back hopes when he intercepted his seventh pass in the last five games and returned it to the Wildcat 29. Murray didn’t have time to cool his foot before he was called on to successfully kick a 40-yard field goal making it 20-10 with 14:52 left in the game.

After another impressive defensive stand that included three incomplete Arizona passes (with a Broderick Binns breakup), the Hawkeyes put the game away with a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive that gobbled nearly nine minutes of game clock. Iowa was 3-for-3 on third down and Stanzi was 4-for-4 on the drive with three of the receptions going to Trey Stross. Wegher scored from two yards and Murray’s PAT made it 27-10 with 4:40 remaining.

Arizona tacked on a late score with a 10-yard reception from Nick Foles to Juron Criner with 1:53 left.

Iowa will now travel to No. 5 Penn State. Last season the Hawkeyes won in Iowa City, 24-23, to begin the current seven-game winning streak.

“I imagine they’ll be waiting for us,” Ferentz said. “What a great opportunity for us. We’ll regroup and see if we can get a little better next week.”