Oct. 14, 2012
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — There were 140 plays in Saturday’s football game between the University of Iowa and Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. For UI head coach Kirk Ferentz, one in particular led to the Hawkeyes’ 19-16 victory in double overtime.
Iowa sloshed its way to 12 first downs on the soggy Spartan Stadium turf — six by passing, four by rushing and two by penalty. Moving the chains was not an easy task against a Michigan State defense that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten Conference.
Because of the opponent and weather, moving the chains when faced with scond-and-26 from your own 16 seemed nearly impossible; but the Hawkeyes got it done, with a play Ferentz called the highlight of the game.
The Hawkeyes started a drive from their own 32, trailing 13-6 with 5:47 left in the game. A 15-yard clipping penalty during a Mark Weisman run left Iowa first-and-24 from the 18. UI quarterback James Vandenberg completed a screen pass to Weisman, but the play lost two yards, making it second-and-26 from the 18.
“The last series was probably the story of the game. We hadn’t done much up until that point. James made a huge play to get us out of the hole. Greg made a great call on that third-and-6, and it was a heck of a run by Mark Weisman. Mark finished it off on another great call by Greg. That’s football. That’s sticking with it.”
UI head football coach
There are not many plays in any playbook to convert on second-and-26. UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis dialed one up: a pass from Vandenberg to wide receiver Keenan Davis.
Davis split wide toward the Michigan State bench and sprinted past Spartan cornerback Darqueze Dennard before making a diving catch for a 35-yard gain to the Spartan 49. Suddenly, the Hawkeyes were in business, and they had momentum.
“It was hard making first downs, so to overcome first -and-24, plus to get the ball out to midfield range, enabled us to be in four-down mode,” Ferentz said. “That was a huge play in the game.”
“It was an up route and Vandy threw a great ball,” Keenan Davis said. “It’s a play we had to make. Luckily we made it and it gave us a spark.”
Greg Davis was not done with splendid play-calling. On third-and-6 on the same drive, Weisman ran 37 yards to the Michigan State 8. Three plays later — on third-and-goal — the Hawkeyes went on a quick count, catching the Spartan defense off guard, and ran an inside zone play to Weisman, who scored from five yards.
“The last series was probably the story of the game,” Ferentz said. “We hadn’t done much up until that point. James made a huge play to get us out of the hole. Greg made a great call on that third-and-6, and it was a heck of a run by Mark Weisman. Mark finished it off on another great call by Greg. That’s football. That’s sticking with it.”
The nine-play scoring drive spanned 68 yards and consumed 4:52 of game clock; Weisman’s touchdown that forced overtime came with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.
The victory against last season’s Legends Division champion — No. 100 for Ferentz as head coach at Iowa — leaves the Hawkeyes with a record of 4-2 overall, 2-0 in Big Ten play. Iowa is one of four teams undefeated in conference action; their opponent Oct. 20 is Penn State of the Leaders Division. Like the Hawkeyes, the Nittany Lions are 4-2, 2-0.