Oct. 20, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team didn’t have an answer for Penn State, as the Nittany Lions handed the Hawkeyes a 38-14 loss Saturday night in prime-time matchup inside Kinnick Stadium.
Penn State, the winner of five straight games, improves to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play; Iowa falls to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
“We’re disappointed with our performance tonight, but give Penn State all the credit in the world,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “We had a great crowd out there, a great environment, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively, defensively or on special teams.”
The Nittany Lions controlled the game, outgaining the Hawkeyes, 504-209, in total offense and holding a 28-14 advantage in first downs. Penn State’s defense forced three Hawkeye turnovers and limited Iowa to just 20 rushing yards.
Penn State jumped on Iowa early and kept going. It led 14-0 following the first quarter, 24-0 at the half and 31-0 through three quarters.
“I thought this was going to be a really tight, competitive ball game, that was my anticipation,” said Ferentz. “They had it going tonight, and their quarterback played a tremendous game.”
Senior James Vandenbergcompleted 17-of-36 attempts for 189 yards with one touchdown to three turnovers. Senior wide receiver Keenan Davis had four receptions for 83 yards with a score, and freshman Greg Garmon had eight carries for 27 yards. Sophomore Mark Weisman tried to go with a tender ankle, but was ineffective, rushing five times for nine yards.
Junior linebackers Christian Kirksey and James Morris both had 12 tackles in the loss. Kirksey also had a fumble recovery, which he returned for 45 yards to set up the team’s only offensive score of the evening.
Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin threw for 289 yards with two touchdowns. He completed 26-of-38 attempts, completing at least one pass to 11 different receivers. Running back Bill Belton rushed for 103 yards on 16 carries with three scores, and tight end Kyle Carter had six catches for 85 yards.
Penn State jumped on the Hawkeyes early, putting seven points on the board on its second possession to take the early lead. Belton jump started the nine play, 84-yard drive with a 23-yard gain on first and 10 from its own 28. The back-breaking play occurred when McGloin avoided a sure-fired Steve Bigach sack, rolled to his right and found tight end Jesse James for the 31-yard scoring strike.
The Hawkeyes put together a six-play, 44-yard drive on the ensuing possession, but couldn’t come away with any points. Vandenberg opened the series with consecutive completions of 22 and 18 yards to Davis and sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley to move to the Penn State 35. After the drive stalled, junior Mike Meyer missed a 49-yard field goal attempt — his first miss since Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois.
Penn State’s offense picked up where it left off, covering 69 yards over nine plays to make the score 14-0. The Nittany Lions converted a fourth-and-3 from midfield when Carter made a leaping catch over senior Micah Hyde for a 34-yard gain to the Iowa 11. Three plays later, McGloin hooked up with wide receiver Allen Robinson for an 8-yard pitch and catch.
On its first drive of the second quarter, the Iowa offense again moved deep into Penn State territory, courtesy of a 31-yard over the shoulder catch Davis. Vandenberg followed with an 11-yard completion to C.J. Fiedorowicz to move Iowa in the red zone, but the Nittany Lions’ defense stiffened, forcing a Hawkeye field goal attempt. Meyer again was off the mark, missing a 37-yarder, wide right.
After extending their lead to 17-0 on place kicker Sam Ficken’s field goal, the Nittany Lions added to their advantage following a costly Iowa turnover. On second down, Vandenberg scrambled to avoid pressure, but coughed up the ball in the process, giving Penn State possession at the Iowa 14. Two plays later, Belton burst through a hole on the right side to extend the lead to 24-0.
The Nittany Lions scored lightning quick on its first possession of the second half to stretch their advantage to 31-0. Jesse Della Valle almost did it himself when he nearly broke the kickoff for a touchdown, scampering 56 yards before being tripped up by Meyer at midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, McGloin hit Brandon Moseby-Felder for a 42-yard strike to the 3 before Belton scored on a 3-yard run.
After Vandenberg was intercepted by linebacker Michael Mauti on the first play of Iowa’s next possession, the Hawkeyes caught a break with Penn State going in for the score. After taking over at the 14, Hyde forced a Zach Zwinak fumble at the goal line — and Joe Gaglione recovered in the end zone — just as Zwinak was about to cross the plain.
The Hawkeyes couldn’t take advantage of a Penn State gamble midway through the third quarter to put points on the board. After forcing a turnover on downs when the Nittany Lions attempted to convert a fourth-and-1 from their own 36-yard line, Iowa drove 33 yards over seven plays to the 3. The Hawkeyes turnoved it over on downs when Vandenberg’s back shoulder attempt to Davis was incomplete in the end zone on fourth down.
Penn State flexed its muscles on its final touchdown drive. Taking over at the 3, the Nittany Lions put together a 14-play, 97-yard drive to make the score 38-0. Belton scored his third touchdown on the series, finding the end zone from 5-yards out.
The Hawkeyes avoided the shutout when junior Jordan Cotton took the ensuing kickoff and out ran the Nittany Lions for 92 yard score early in the fourth quarter. The return was the 10th longest in Iowa history.
Iowa’s defense set up the Hawkeyes’ second touchdown. With Penn State threatening to add to its lead, junior Tanner Miller forced a Zwinak fumble at the Iowa 18-yard line. Kirksey scooped up the ball and scampered 45 yards to the Penn State 36 yard line. Vandenberg then led the offense in for the score, completing 3-of-4 attempts, including an 18-yard scoring strike to Davis.
Iowa returns to action Saturday at Northwestern. The game is set to begin at 11 a.m. at Ryan Field, and it will be televised on ESPN2.