Iowa Shuts Down Georgia Tech, 24-14

Stats | Boxscore

Jan. 5, 2010

Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2 | Photo Gallery 3 | Photo Gallery 4

MIAMI — All season, Kirk Ferentz preached that most sports clichés are true. The University of Iowa football team confirmed one Tuesday in the FedEx Orange Bowl:

Defense wins championships. More specifically, defense wins the FedEx Orange Bowl championship.

The Hawkeyes (11-2 overall) limited one of the nation’s most potent offenses to 155 yards and nine first downs during a 24-14 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech (11-3) inside Land Shark Stadium. It is the first Bowl Championship Series win for Iowa, which won its second consecutive bowl game and 13th overall.

Ferentz and the Hawkeyes felt comfortable with the temperature dipping below 50 degrees, combined with a 9 mile-per-hour wind.

“It’s Hawkeye weather; we feel right at home,” Ferentz said while accepting the FedEx Orange Bowl championship trophy.

The most disruptive force in the game was Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who was honored as the game’s Most Outstanding Player. Clayborn posted nine tackles with two quarterback sacks.

“Good thing we had a month to prepare, because it was difficult,” Clayborn said. “We just strived to get this victory and kept playing hard.”

During pre-bowl preparation, Clayborn announced that he would return to Iowa City for his senior season. He isn’t about to renege on that promise.

“I’m not changing my mind,” Clayborn said. “I’m playing for the Hawkeyes.”

UI quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 17 of 29 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns and running back Brandon Wegher rushed 16 times for 113 yards and a game-clinching 32-yard score with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining.

Iowa scored on two of its first three drives to take a 14-0 lead.

UI defensive end Adrian Clayborn was named Most Outstanding Performer of the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl. Clayborn compiled nine tackles and two quarterback sacks.

“We were able to execute in the first half,” Stanzi said. “Getting those first 14 points gave us a boost.”

Once again it was the Hawkeye defense that took a bow. Defensive coordinator Norm Parker devised a scheme that limited a Yellow Jacket offense that averages 307 rushing yards and 35 points to 143 yards on the ground and just one offensive score.

“What can I say about that defense?” Ferentz asked. “This is a great night. We played well and we’re thrilled.”

Iowa gained 403 yards (231 passing, 172 rushing) and limited the more publicized offense in the game to 248 fewer than that.

“Well, Iowa scored 24 and Georgia Tech scored 14 is what went wrong,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “They’re a very good defense. They had a good plan and we had a hard time blocking them.”

It didn’t take long for Stanzi to answer critics who thought he might be rusty after nearly two months off with a high ankle sprain. On the second series of the game, Stanzi treated the Hawkeyes to a 7-play, 80-yard scoring drive that included four pass completions for 74 yards. The big play was a 54-yard reception to tight end Tony Moeaki, who took the ball from the Iowa 37, followed some great down-field blocks and sprinted to Georgia Tech’s 9. Three plays later Stanzi connected with Marvin McNutt in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown with 8:10 left in the first quarter. McNutt out-jumped Yellow Jacket cornerback Jerrard Tarrant for the score.

It was the eighth touchdown reception for McNutt, tying him for fourth all-time on Iowa’s list for scoring grabs.

Stanzi’s eighth consecutive completion gave the Hawkeyes a 14-0 lead with 4:04 left in the quarter. On the receiving end of the 21-yard scoring toss was Colin Sandeman, capping a 4-play, 83-yard drive.

After picking on Tarrant most of the game, the Yellow Jacket sophomore stepped in front of a second down pass intended for Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and returned it 40 yards for a score. The extra kick by Scott Blair cut the Hawkeye lead in half, 14-7, with 24 seconds left in the first quarter.

Once again it was the Hawkeye defense that took a bow. Defensive coordinator Norm Parker devised a scheme that limited a Yellow Jacket offense that averages 307 rushing yards and 35 points to 143 yards on the ground and just one offensive score.

After the first four drives, Georgia Tech had four more punts than first downs. Before the FedEx Orange Bowl, the Yellow Jackets hadn’t punted in their last two games (22 possessions). Georgia Tech didn’t pick up its initial first down in this game until its 14th offensive play — a 16-yard run by Anthony Allen.

That first-down carry by Allen made him the leading Georgia Tech ground-gainer during the first half. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt carried 13 times for 10 net yards. The half ended with Clayborn using one hand to fling Nesbitt for a 14-yard sack.

Neither team scored in the second quarter, but it was Iowa that finished the first 30 minutes with 257 total yards, compared to 32 by the Yellow Jackets. After a first quarter that saw the Hawkeyes roll to a 185 to 18 edge in total yards, the pace slowed in the second with Iowa gaining 72 yards and Georgia Tech picking up 14.

Iowa held an 11 to 1 advantage in first downs at the break.

Georgia Tech opened the second half looking very much like an Atlantic Coast Conference champion. The Yellow Jackets put together a 12-play drive that chewed more than seven minutes, but a 41-yard field goal attempt by Blair just missed to the right. Georgia Tech gained 44 yards on that series, 12 more than it had in the entire first half.

Iowa answered with an 11-play drive that culminated with a 33-yard field goal by Daniel Murray, extending the lead to 17-7 with 2:17 left in the third quarter. Adam Robinson had rushes of 12, 10 and seven yards. A big play was a 23-yard completion from Stanzi to Moeaki on second-and-20. On third-and-4, Stanzi moved up in the pocket and found a wide-open Sandeman beyond the first-down chain, but the ball bobbled to the turf inside the Georgia Tech 10.

The Yellow Jacket offense finally found the scoreboard with 12:30 remaining in the game after an 11-play, 71-yard drive. A 1-yard touchdown run by Allen cut the Hawkeye lead to a field goal, 17-14. The scoring series also contained the first pass completion of the night by Nesbitt — an 11-yarder to Jonathan Dwyer to open the drive.

“For us, this is a rout. Was it 10 points? This is a rout for us. We were all breathing a sigh of relief.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

On Iowa’s next possession, Wegher ran the ball 19 yards to the Georgia Tech 41, but the Hawkeyes went three-and-out from there. Wegher’s run followed a Stanzi scramble, where he outran Tech All-American Derrick Morgan for a 9-yard pickup. The Yellow Jackets took over with just under nine minutes to play at their own 10.

That’s when things really started to get interesting.

Hawkeye linebacker A.J. Edds intercepted a Nesbitt pass on the next Yellow Jacket play, taking the ball to the GeorgiaTech 15. A roughing the passer penalty placed the ball first-and-goal from the 7. Murray came on to attempt what appeared to be a 21-yard field goal. Instead, holder Ryan Donahue tossed the ball between his legs to Murray, who took off for the right corner of the end zone. Yellow Jacket safety Morgan Burnett chased down Murray, who fumbled and Georgia Tech took over at its own 12.

Dwyer added to the oddities. On first down Dwyer took an option pitch right, reversed field where he ran into Clayborn in the end zone. Dwyer broke three tackles before he was pulled down by Broderick Binns inches from a safety.

A 59-yard punt by Chandler Anderson got the Yellow Jackets out of field position danger and Iowa took over at their 37 with 4:54 remaining.

Iowa turned into clock-burning mode, but that didn’t stop big plays from securing victory. On third-and-8 from the Iowa 48, Stanzi connected with Trey Stross for 9 yards and a first down. Two plays later, Wegher ran off left tackle for 23 yards. Then, with 1:56 remaining, Wegher got the ball on the same play off tackle and ran 32 yards for his eighth touchdown of the season. That score not only gave the Hawkeyes a 24-14 lead, but it put Wegher in the Iowa record book with the most rushing touchdowns by a freshman.

Linebacker Pat Angerer led the Hawkeyes with 10 tackles.

It is Iowa’s second consecutive bowl victory after defeating South Carolina, 31-10, in the 2009 Outback Bowl.

“It’s now on to the next step,” McNutt said. “That next step is to improve next year.”