Final Play Fury

Stats | Boxscore

Oct. 24, 2009

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Who needs gadget plays when you have the accurate arm of Ricky Stanzi and the sure hands of Marvin McNutt?

The University of Iowa converted a 7-yard touchdown pass from Stanzi to McNutt as time expired to defeat Michigan State 15-13 this evening at Spartan Stadium and remain undefeated after eight games. The Hawkeyes are 8-0 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten Conference; the Spartans slip to 4-4, 3-2.

“We got to the sideline and we figured we could beat them with this play,” Stanzi said. “Marvin did a good job of getting inside. I was just worrying about that play. That’s all you can really worry about.”

The Hawkeyes were forced to come-from-behind with 92 seconds remaining after Michigan State connected on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Blair White, making it 13-9 with 1:37 left. The biggest play on the drive was a successful hook-and-ladder from Cousins to Brian Linthicum to White that picked up 38 yards on third-and-18.

Ironically — as Cousins remembers — a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes that Cousins so coveted, was eventually offered to McNutt, who has converted to wide receiver.

Saturday marked the fifth time a Ferentz-coached Hawkeye team has traveled to Spartan Stadium. This was the first triumph.

“We have some resilient players on this team,” Ferentz said. “What a great effort. It was a great drive by our offense. Our guys responded and they’ve been doing it all year. We’ve had some fantastic finishes, but the series of events the last two series…what a swing of emotions. Our guys always think there’s a way to get it done. What a great play call by (offensive coordinator) Ken (O’Keefe).”

The Hawkeyes finished with 276 total yards — 138 on both the ground and through the air. UI running back Adam Robinson finished with 109 rushing yards on 27 carries. Stanzi completed 11 of 27 for 138 yards. On the final 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive, the Hawkeye offensive line did an outstanding job keeping green jerseys away from Stanzi.

“Every win you can get, you need to feel fortunate,” Ferentz said. “We’re looking forward to the next week now.”

UI linebacker Pat Angerer led the team with nine tackles; defensive end Adrian Clayborn had four stops — three for a loss of 21 yards.

The first half opened as a stereotypical Big Ten hard-hitting, low-scoring battle. Michigan State picked up 132 yards on 34 plays and the Hawkeyes gained 89 yards on 27 plays. After 30 minutes, both teams had a field goal.

Michigan State used a seven-play, 45-yard drive on its second possession and scored first on a 34-yard kick by Brett Swenson with 3:39 left in the first quarter. Iowa answered on the next series, tying the score with a 37-yard field goal by Daniel Murray with 12:44 remaining in the half.

The Spartans began a drive at their own 35 with 8:29 left in the half. After six plays, Michigan State was faced with third-and-2 from Iowa’s 30, but Clayborn thwarted the scoring opportunity by sacking Cousins for a 10-yard loss.

In the hard-hitting first half, Iowa had three plays that picked up 11 or more yards — a 23-yard pass completion from Stanzi to Brandon Wegher, a 14-yard run by Robinson and an 11-yard completion from Stanzi to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Robinson gained 62 yards on 15 carries in the first half.

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Iowa’s defense rose up and held Michigan State to a field goal on its second drive of the second half. The three points accounted for all the scoring in the third quarter. The first play of the 11-play drive was nearly a game-changer for the Hawkeyes. A punt by Ryan Donahue pinned the Spartans on their own 18 and on the first play of drive Spartan running back Larry Caper was stripped of the ball by Clayborn, who appeared to recover at the 16. Instead, Michigan State regained possession and nine plays later, Swenson was good from 23 yards.

Murray overcame a difficult angle on the left hash mark to convert a 20-yard field goal and tie the game, 6-6, with 11:43 left in the game. The Hawkeyes started the drive at midfield and after back-to-back 11-yard runs by Wegher and Robinson, were faced with first-and-goal from the Michigan State 1.

A third Murray field goal — from 20 yards with 2:56 remaining — gave Iowa a short-lived 9-6 edge. The Cousins-to-White touchdown gave the Spartans a 13-9 lead, but that too, was short-lived. Stanzi marched the Hawkeyes up-field for the game-winner.

“Rick did a great job running the clock down to the last possible second,” joked Ferentz.

Iowa improved to 4-0 on the road this season with wins at Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin and now Michigan State. The Hawkeyes return to Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 31 to host Indiana (4-4, 1-3), a hard-luck loser today at Northwestern.