Second Half Comeback Favors Hawkeyes, 21-10

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Sept. 26, 2009

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. Remember the 2008 Iowa-Penn State game? Daniel Murray finishes the Hawkeye scoring with a 31-yard field goal. The Iowa defense comes up with a big sack and forced fumble of Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark in the Penn State end zone. Iowa upsets a top-four rated Nittany Lion team.

Welcome back to Sept. 26, 2009.

Iowa used four second-half turnovers, overcame a 10-0 deficit and stunned 109,316 fans at Beaver Stadium this evening, 21-10, in the Big Ten Conference opener for both schools.

Iowa is now 4-0 overall, 1-0 in the conference. Penn State is 3-1, 0-1. It is the first road win for the Hawkeyes over a team rated in the top 5 since a 54-28 victory at Illinois on Oct. 3, 1990. It is the fourth-largest crowd an Iowa team has ever played in front of.

“We showed an awful lot of maturity and stuck together,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “What a great effort by our guys. Each and every one of our guys competed extremely hard. It was a great football game.”

If it didn’t know before, the nation discovered tonight that the Hawkeyes have quite a football team. An undefeated football team that is now 2-0 on the road and has defeated Penn State two years in a row and seven times in the last nine meetings.

How many heroes can you name? Adrian Clayborn, Pat Angerer? A.J. Edds? Adam Robinson? The first three had timely turnovers and Robinson gained 88 hard yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.

Penn State finished with 307 total yards (79 coming on the first play of the game) compared to 298 by Iowa. The Hawkeyes had 17 first downs and controlled 31:17 of the game clock.

Iowa’s running game was effective with Robinson’s 88 yards and Brandon Wegher adding 73 yards on 14 carries. UI quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 11 of 26 for 135 yards. He was saddled with two hard-luck interceptions. On defense, Angerer compiled a game-high 14 tackles and linebacker Jeremiha Hunter returned to his home state of Pennsylvania and was credited with 12 stops. End Broderick Binns had eight tackles and 2 ½ tackles for loss. Don’t forget defensive tackle Karl Klug’s performance that included six tackles and a fumble recovery.

Penn State opened the scoring on its first play of the game with a 79-yard touchdown strike from Clark to Chaz Powell with 13:15 left in the period. The Nittany Lions extended the lead to 10-0 following a 27-yard field goal by Collin Wagner with 52 seconds left in the quarter.

Not only did Penn State seize all the scoring up to that point, but the Nittany Lions also controlled 10-minutes 28-seconds of the first 15. The biggest plays for Iowa in the first quarter were a 28-yard run by Wegher and a 14-yard reception from Stanzi to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Iowa was just beginning to heat up.

The Hawkeyes dominated the second quarter, scoring five points (a safety and a 41-yard field goal by Murray). They controlled 10:06 of the clock, picked up seven first downs (Penn State had none and a minus 6 in total yards) and rolled to 124 yards.

Iowa got on the board when Binns sacked Clark in the end zone, but Nittany Lion Johnnie Troutman recovered for a safety. Two drives later, the Hawkeyes went on an eight-play 37-yard drive that ended with Murray’s first field goal.

The Hawkeyes moved down the field again, setting up a 42-yard field goal attempt by Murray with 11 second remaining in the half, but the attempt sailed wide right.

Clayborn is known for big defensive plays from his end position. Now he will be known for a huge special team’s effort. With 12 ½ minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions lined up in a tight punt formation from Iowa’s 47. The Hawkeyes didn’t appear to have a punt-block on, but Clayborn rushed hard, blocked the kick and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hawkeyes an 11-10 lead with 12:21 left. Stanzi was sacked on the two-point conversion attempt.

“We had our safe block on and I took advantage of their guy giving me ground and I got the block,” Clayborn said.

It was Iowa’s first blocked punt return since the 2005 Capitol One Bowl (Sean Considine). The punt was forced when Clark threw incomplete, thanks in part by hurries by Clayborn and Christian Ballard.

Angerer helped the Hawkeyes take an 18-10 lead. A Clark pass sailed off running back Evan Royster’s fingertips and Angerer intercepted and chugged all the way down to the Nittany Lion 24.

“They’re a great team,” said Angerer, after making 14 tackles. “We respect the way they play football. We knew they would come out with a lot of intensity. We didn’t give up and we continued to do our job.”

Three consecutive hard runs by Robinson picked up those 24 yards and Murray’s crucial PAT make it 18-10 with 8:24 left.

A late hit on the ensuing kickoff return took the ball to the Iowa 36. Royster picked up 17 on a rush, but Angerer forced a fumble that was recovered by Klug at the 19. The Hawkeyes worked the clock down to 4:06 remaining.

Penn State began what amounted to essentially its final hope from its own 30. Edds ended it at the 40 — following a third Clark interception — the fourth consecutive Penn State series that ended by turnover. Robinson continued his tough running and Murray finished the scoring with a 31-yard field goal-clincher with eight seconds remaining.

Iowa plays at Kinnick Stadium the next two weeks — Saturday, Oct. 3, against Arkansas State (11 a.m. Iowa time) and Oct. 10 against Michigan (7 p.m.).

“Great to start out with a victory in conference play,” Ferentz said. “I hope we have a great crowd against Arkansas State.”