'The Drive' Powers Iowa

Oct. 24, 2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The nationally ranked University of Iowa football team waited for its final offensive play to score its only touchdown in its game with Michigan State Saturday night.

Oh what a thing of beauty it was.

On fourth-and-goal at the Spartan seven, Ricky Stanzi hit Marvin McNutt to the dismay of 75,000-plus in Spartan Stadium…minus the few thousand fans of the Hawkeyes tucked away in the corners. Touchdown – finally! – Iowa!

Final score: Iowa 15, Michigan State 13.

Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes moved to 8-0 for the first time in school history with the victory and has now won road games at Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State after falling behind. The win was also Iowa’s 12th in a row, the second-longest winning streak in the country.

This was a knock-down, drag out, smash-you-in-the-mouth Big Ten Conference football game that took its toll on the Hawkeyes, with starters Brett Greenwood and Colin Sandeman each carted off after viciously hard hits, the one on Sandeman costing Michigan State for a heads-up helmet-to-helmet hit by a Spartan defender.

And, after 58 minutes of gritty football, it all came down to the game’s final possession.

The touchdown drive — “The Drive” — started on Iowa’s 30 with just 1:32 left on the clock. Michigan State had just taken the lead after a little trickery – a 37-yard hook-and-ladder – followed by a 30-yard touchdown strike that gave the home team a 13-9 lead.

Stanzi opened the drive with a 16-yard strike up the left sideline for 16. He connected with Trey Stross on a crossing route that resulted in 21. He then hooked up with Darrell Johnson-Koulianos for 16. An MSU holding penalty pushed the ball to the seven where Iowa had plenty of time for four strikes for victory.

The first was targeted for Tony Moeaki, who was in the endzone, but well covered. Stanzi tried to hook up with Stross on the next two and came up empty.

The scoring strike to McNutt was put only where the lanky former quarterback could catch it…and he did.

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“We practice a two-minute drill a lot. It’s critical in close games. It’s something we know how to. We did a great job of communicating. We knew we had some time. We moved each play and took it play-by-play. Coach O’Keefe drew it up and we executed it,” Stanzi told the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak.

Stanzi offered high praise for his offensive line.

“You need big plays in the two minute drill. Coach (Ken O’Keefe) did a great job of play-calling and the receivers did a great job of running routs, but I’m most proud of the O-line. They gave me great protection.”