Sept. 20, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz often talks about the important of all three phases of the game of football, and all three, offense, defense, and specials teams, had their moments Saturday night in Iowa’s 27-24 win over Pittsburgh that wasn’t decided until senior Marshall Koehn connected on a 57-yard field goal on the final play of the game.
“First of all, what a great environment in Kinnick Stadium,” said Ferentz. “It certainly started when Brett led us on the field, and then the fan support right down to the end. We really appreciate that.”
The game came down to the end, with Iowa using seven plays to cover 31 yards in the final 52 seconds to set up the winning field goal. Quarterback C.J. Beathard ran for eight yards on the final play from scrimmage to give Iowa a chance to break the 24-24 tie. It was Koehn’s second three-pointer of the game and his fourth of the season without a miss.
“With field goals and PAT’s, a lot of things can go wrong,” said Ferentz. “It takes teamwork; it’s what football is all about. Tyler Kluver did a great job with the snap, Dillon Kidd did a very good job getting the ball down as the holder, those are very important jobs. Marshall has a very strong leg, I think he knew he was getting iced and let up on the first one; but the last kick had plenty on it, it was a great job on his part.
“C.J. was really impressive, I can’t say enough about his play throughout the game. He was most impressive with that last run, where he was watching the clock, but got down and got the timeout with two seconds remaining. He gave Marshall an opportunity to etch out a pretty nice place in Iowa football history. That was a great effort on Marshall’s part.”
The Hawkeye offense ended the contest with 363 yards total offense, including 105 tough rushing yards and 258 passing yards from Beathard. The junior completed 27-of-40 attempts, completing passes to seven Hawkeye teammates. His only interception in three games resulted in a short-field touchdown for Pitt in the second quarter.
“We anticipated it would be tough to run the ball; they are a very aggressive, tough defense, we knew that going in,” said Ferentz. “We did get the running game going on our last touchdown drive, we did run effectively. I thought Jordan Canzeri played a great game, well beyond his run production. He did a good job in the passing game and with his blitz pick up as well on their linebackers.”
Iowa’s defense held Pitt to 282 yards total offense, including just 55 net rushing yards. The Panthers scored one touchdown on a 15-yard drive following an interception and another Pitt score came as a result of a blocked punt.
“We are doing a good job of stopping the run. If you can make the opponent have to throw the ball when they don’t want to, that’s a good thing defensively, “said Ferentz. “They are playing aggressive, playing well as a group. Like a lot of segments of our team, we have guys such as Ben Niemann and Cole Fisher, two linebackers who haven’t started until this year. You know they are going to do nothing but get better as the season goes on.”
Despite the blocked punt that was returned for a Pitt touchdown to tie the score in the third period, Iowa’s special teams had a number of big plays in additional to Koehn’s game-winning field goal. Both Koehn and Dillon Kidd had 64 yard punts in the first half, as Kidd averaged 55.7 yards on three punts for the night. Desmond King had 48 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 27-yard return in the final minute.
“Two plays really hurt us, the interception to set up their first touchdown and the blocked punt, which was a great job on their part,” said Ferentz. “Our special teams have been good over three games; we’ve seen improvement in every area. Our punters are doing a good job and we’re doing a great job of covering punts. With that combination, we’re seeing marked improvement in all areas. The effort and the attention that they have dedicated to special teams, we are seeing the results of that on the field.”
Iowa (3-0) host North Texas (0-2) Saturday afternoon (2:32 p.m., ESPNU) in its final non-conference game. The Mean Green are coached by Dan McCarney, an Iowa City native, a Hawkeye football letterman (1972-74) and a former Iowa assistant coach. North Texas won nine games in 2013, including the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“The month of September is very important for us, always has been at Iowa, and this is our last non-Big Ten game,” said Ferentz. “I’m happy with what the team has done, the growth we have shown to this point. This is another big week of growth and development, we are going to have to be at our best. Dan has done a great job there, he did a great job at Iowa State, and has taken North Texas to a bowl win recently. We have to stay focused and get ready for another tough football game.
Tickets are on sale for each of Iowa’s five remaining home games, and are available online at hawkeyesports.com, by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or in person at the UI athletics ticket office located in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.