Nov. 14, 2009
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A championship effort by the University of Iowa football team ended with a not-so-rosy result.
Walk-on 26-year old reserve kicker Devin Barclay, a former professional soccer player, converted a 39-yard field goal in overtime to give Ohio State a 27-24 victory over the Hawkeyes in front of the eighth-largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history (105,455).
The outcome gives the Buckeyes (9-2 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) the conference berth in the Rose Bowl. Iowa heads into its final regular-season contest against Minnesota with a record of 9-2, 5-2.
The two best defenses in the league showed it in overtime. Neither offense impressed in the extra session, but it was Ohio State that inched forward just enough to attempt a final field goal. Iowa’s last four plays consisted of an incomplete pass, a run for minus-6 yards, a sack for minus-10 yards and an intercepted pass. Ohio State lost two yards on its first rush, then ran twice for four yards, taking the ball to the Iowa 23.
Even a loss won’t diminish the courageous effort of redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg, making his first collegiate start with the conference championship on the line. Vandenberg completed 20 of 33 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns.
“It hurts right now, but we’re going to bounce back,” Vandenberg said. “The guys worked hard to get open and I had great protection. It’s a great experience. After the first play goes, everything slows down. Give Ohio State all the credit…they played great all game.”
“James played with great, great poise,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He showed great mental toughness and hung in there and kept competing. It was a great, great effort.”
“It hurts right now, but we’re going to bounce back. The guys worked hard to get open and I had great protection. It’s a great experience. After the first play goes, everything slows down. Give Ohio State all the credit…they played great all game.”
Vandenberg posted the big numbers without freshman running back Brandon Wegher, who was held out of the game with sore ribs. Iowa welcomed the services of receiver Colin Sandeman and free safety Brett Greenwood, both returning fulltime for the first time since Oct. 24.
“Our staff did a great job all week and more importantly our players,” Ferentz said. “I can’t say enough about the leadership from our older guys.”
Iowa racked up 300 yards of total offense, 74 coming on 20 rushing attempts by Adam Robinson.
“What a job Adam Robinson did,” Ferentz said. “We had no idea how he would hold up (from an ankle sprain suffered Oct. 24).”
Ohio State gained 229 yards on the ground — 105 coming in the first half.
“There aren’t many teams that pick up 20 first downs and rush for 229 yards against Iowa,” Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. “Iowa has a good team.”
“They ran the ball effectively against us at times today,” Ferentz said. “They’re a tough team. Credit goes to them.”
The Hawkeyes conclude the regular season Nov. 21 at home against Minnesota with Floyd of Rosedale at stake.
“We have an awful lot left to play for,” Ferentz said. “We would like to finish up on a positive note.”
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt caught six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, an Ohio native, caught three passes for 71 yards and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
“What a great team this has been to work with,” Ferentz said. “Our guys just don’t give up.”
Not even when they trail by two touchdowns with just over 11 minutes to play.
Vandenberg completed all four pass attempts — to four different receivers — for 33 yards on the first series of the game. Iowa moved the chains twice before punting and pinning Ohio State back on its 13. Meanwhile, the Hawkeye defense was holding up its end. After restricting Ohio State to a three-and-out on the first series (for seven yards), it held the Buckeyes to just 18 yards on six plays on their second drive.
“Our staff did a great job all week and more importantly our players. I can’t say enough about the leadership from our older guys.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
Iowa began its second series from its own 43 with 5:33 left in the quarter. With Vandenberg becoming more comfortable, the Hawkeyes marched 42 yards on eight plays and reached the scoreboard first with a 32-yard field goal by Daniel Murray with 53 seconds left in the first quarter. Vandenberg was 3 for 4 for 20 yards on the scoring drive, but the biggest gain was a 14-yard scamper by Robinson.
The first period ended with Iowa holding a 3-0 lead and thanks to the Hawkeye defense, Ohio State was still sputtering deep on its own side of the 50-yard line.
The field position battle then began to shift.
The Buckeyes started to heat up offensively and tied the score on a 30-yard field goal by Barclay with 7:01 left in the half. Ohio State converted three times on third down, but needed 17 plays to move 73 yards and into field goal position. A key on to the drive was the fact that the Iowa defense was on the field for 8 minutes, 45 seconds.
The Buckeyes took a 10-3 lead with 2:04 left before halftime on a 22-yard run by Brandon Saine. The Hawkeye defenders were not only on the field nearly nine minutes on Ohio State’s first scoring drive, but then they didn’t get much rest as Iowa suffered its first three-and-out of the game and consumed just 54 seconds.
A-30 yard return on the ensuing kickoff by Johnson-Kouilianos gave the Hawkeyes first down from the 35 with 1:57 left. Robinson gained five yards on a first-down run and Vandenberg connected with fullback Brett Morse for a 4-yard pick-up. A sneak by Vandenberg gave Iowa a first down at its own 46. After an incompletion to Tony Moeaki, Vandenberg was intercepted when his pass was tipped by Moeaki and corralled by Buckeye free safety Anderson Russell at the Ohio State 34. After Christian Ballard sacked Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor on first down, Ohio State threw in the towel until intermission.
The big second quarter left Ohio State with several statistical advantages at halftime. The Buckeyes had 11 first downs and 159 total yards, with 105 coming on the ground. Iowa had four first downs in the first quarter, but just one in the second. The Hawkeyes accumulated 84 total yards at the break, with Vandenberg completing 9 of 14 passes for 62 yards. Angerer had five solo and five assisted tackles after the first 30 minutes.
Iowa emerged from the locker room with renewed vigor. Robinson had back-to-back runs of nine and eight yards and then Vandenberg completed the longest pass of his young career — a 55-yard crossing pattern to Johnson-Koulianos that placed the ball on Ohio State’s 7. The Hawkeyes were denied the end zone after two runs and a pass attempt, before Murray pulled a 22-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Trailing by 14 points, Johnson-Koulianos trumped a 1-play Buckeye scoring drive with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It is the first kickoff return for the Hawkeyes since C.J. Jones opened the 2003 Orange Bowl with a 100-yard return. The electrifying score cut the Ohio State lead to 24-17.
The Hawkeye defense stood strong, stopping three rush attempts by Saine — the third a fumble that was recovered inches shy of a first down. It was the first of two straight three-and-outs by the Iowa defense. The second was capped by a 13-yard sack of Pryor by Clayborn. Six plays — and two huge McNutt receptions later — the game was tied, 10-10. The first catch was a 33-yard deep square-in that ended at the Ohio State 9. Three plays later, Vandenberg whistled a slant to McNutt that went for a 9-yard touchdown on third down. Murray’s successful PAT knotted the score with 3:31 left in the third. It is the fourth game in a row that McNutt has scored a touchdown.
The elusiveness of the Buckeye backfield showed on an 11-play scoring drive early in the final period. On third-and-10 from the Iowa 30, Pryor took a planned quarterback draw 19 yards to the 11. On the next play, with Pryor split wide, Herron took a direct snap, slithered past three Hawkeye defenders and scored to make it 17-10.
Saine and the Buckeyes made Iowa pay for a second interception, which allowed them to open a 24-10 lead with 11:11 remaining. Vandenberg was picked off by Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan and the Buckeyes started a drive just inside midfield. On the first play, Saine sprinted off left tackle for a 49-yard touchdown.
Johnson-Koulianos trumped the 1-play Buckeye scoring drive with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It is the first kickoff return for the Hawkeyes since C.J. Jones opened the 2003 Orange Bowl with a 100-yard return. The electrifying score cut the Ohio State lead to 24-17.
Iowa didn’t capitalize on the momentum. The ensuing kickoff sailed out-of-bounds and a personal foul against the Hawkeyes gave the Buckeyes the ball at the Iowa 45 to start the drive. Once again the Iowa defense did another great job keeping Ohio State out of the end zone. A 47-yard field goal attempt by Barclay missed wide left and Iowa had the ball 70 yards away from the Buckeye goal with 7:11 left.
One big break and one tall wide receiver helped the Hawkeyes tie the game, 24-24, with 2:42 remaining. Vandenberg completed five passes during a 70-yard touchdown drive. The third completion was tossed into triple coverage, but after a tip, Moeaki emerged with the ball and a 16-yard gain to the Ohio State 30. Vandenberg then completed a 14-yard pass to McNutt to the 13. Robinson ran to the 10 and on second-and-7, Vandenberg lofted the ball high into the end zone and McNutt won the jump ball for his second scoring grab of the game.
Both Ohio State and Iowa had a final crack at victory before overtime, but neither team was comfortable opening up so late in the game with the league championship on the line. The Buckeyes started their final drive with 2:37 left and Iowa got the ball back with 52 ticks remaining.
Ohio State won the toss prior to overtime and elected to go on defense. Iowa started at the 25-yard line heading north into the smattering of black and gold fans inside the stadium. It was the first overtime game for the Hawkeyes since defeating Michigan State, 27-20, in double overtime on Oct. 27, 2007.