2 Late Scores Clip Hawkeyes, 21-17

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Nov. 13, 2010

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EVANSTON, Ill. — Iowa scored 17 straight points and rallied from a first-half deficit only to surrender two fourth-quarter scoring drives of 85 and 91 yards during a 21-17 setback to Northwestern on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 47,130 at Ryan Field.

The result leaves both teams with a record of 7-3 overall. Iowa is 4-2 in the Big Ten Conference, Northwestern is 3-3. The Wildcats extend their winning streak to three straight in the series. It is the first league road loss of the season for Iowa and it is the first home win for Northwestern.

The most glaring statistic was third-down efficiency. Northwestern was 9 of 16 and Iowa was 2 of 14. The Hawkeyes finished the game with a 15-play, 35-yard drive.

“Both teams played hard,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Northwestern did what it had to do in the fourth quarter and conversely we didn’t come up with the plays when we needed to at the end of the game.”

Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa was difficult for Iowa’s defense to solve. He completed 32 of 43 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 50 yards and another score.

“That quarterback can scramble,” Iowa defensive tackle Karl Klug said. “The team needed us in the second half and we didn’t step up. Everyone’s disappointed, but we have to move on.”

Iowa gained 371 yards on 71 plays, but allowed 419 yards — second most for the season (Michigan compiled 522). The return of running back Adam Robinson was welcomed. He ran for a game-high 108 yards on 22 carries; Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi was 23 of 41 for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice. Marvin McNutt was his primary target, hauling in seven passes for 72 yards and a 5-yard touchdown. With 32 seconds left and faced with fourth-and-15, McNutt pulled in a 23-yard pass despite being double-covered. Tight end Allen Reisner had six catches (66 yards) and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos added five for 104 yards and a 70-yard score.

The Hawkeye defense did sack the elusive Persa four times — twice by Klug and once each by James Morris and Adrian Clayborn. Morris and Micah Hyde had 13 and 12 tackles.

Persa put the home team on the board first with a 2-yard run at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter. The Wildcats mixed eight running plays and three passes and drove 62 yards to take a 7-0 lead.

With 10:19 left in the first half, Iowa’s defense made a stand after a short punt gave Northwestern first down at the Hawkeye 40. The biggest play came when Klug hurried Persa into an intentional grounding penalty, forcing the Wildcats into second and 19 from Iowa’s 30. After gains of 6 and 7 yards, Wildcat kicker Stefan Demos missed right on a 40-yard field goal attempt.

The skies opened and the rain started pouring down as Iowa’s Ryan Donahue pinned the Wildcats on their 4 with a 73-yard punt. The Hawkeye defense held and the offense started a drive from its own 31 — its best starting position of the game. A 24-yard run by Robinson gave Iowa first down at the Northwestern 41 and four plays later Stanzi hooked up with Reisner for a 20-yard gain on fourth-and-4. Now on the Wildcat 15, Iowa spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock, but then Stanzi missed Johnson-Koulianos on back-to-back attempts. Hawkeye freshman Mike Meyer booted a 32-yard field goal from the left hash to pull Iowa to 7-3 at halftime.

In the past it was turnovers that troubled the Hawkeyes in this series; in the first half it was penalties — one on the second play of the game (holding) and one on the first play of their second series (illegal block).

The Hawkeyes had one first down in the first quarter and three more in the second. At halftime, Northwestern ran 32 plays for 130 yards; Iowa had 30 plays for 129. The Hawkeyes did not convert any of its seven third-down attempts with the average third-down try being from nine yards away. It is the 26th consecutive time Northwestern has been ahead or tied at the break.

Iowa started the second half with a superb defensive stand that led to a superb 7-play scoring drive capped by a 5-yard pass from Stanzi to McNutt. Robinson carried the load four plays in a row for 34 yards and a facemask penalty by the Wildcats turned a 16-yard run into a 31-yard gain to the Northwestern 37. Stanzi wrapped up the drive with three straight completions: five yards to Reisner, 16 yards to McNutt and then the touchdown to McNutt.

The Hawkeye defense got another stop and Iowa started its second drive of the second half at its own 19. Stanzi and Johnson-Koulianos had missed on a few pass plays earlier in the game, but they were right on with a 70-yard touchdown pass that gave Iowa a 17-7 lead with 6:01 left in the third period. Stanzi had plenty of time and hit Johnson-Koulianos in stride at the Wildcat 40; Johnson-Koulianos then won a footrace against Wildcat cornerback Jordan Mabin and dove into the end zone.

The teams traded fourth-quarter interceptions: Jeremiha Hunter picked off a deflected pass at the Iowa 38, but four plays later, Northwestern’s Brian Peters returned the favor. The Wildcats put together a 13-play, 85-yard drive and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert to cut Iowa’s lead to 17-14 with 6:21 remaining.

Persa led another charge and orchestrated a game-winning 91-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Fields even though Fields had Hyde draped all over him. Persa completed 5 of 8 passes and ran three times for 28 yards on the 11-play drive.

The Hawkeyes had 1:22 left to overcome a 21-17 disadvantage, but a desperation fourth-down Stanzi pass to the end zone was batted away with Keenan Davis and Reisner inches away with 15 ticks left on the clock.

Iowa returns to Kinnick Stadium next Saturday to face Ohio State. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Iowa at Northwestern 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Iowa Hawkeyes 0 3 14 0 17
Northwestern Wildcats 7 0 0 14 21
Iowa Statistical Leaders
Passing: Ricky Stanzi 23 of 41, 270 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 INT
Rushing: Adam Robinson 22 carries, 108 yards
Receiving: Marvin McNutt 7 receptions, 72 yards, touchdown
Tackles: James Morris 13 tackles (7 solo, 6 assists), QB sack