By Courtney Baumann
After rocking Kinnick Stadium for most of the fourth quarter, a hush fell over the 66,205 people in attendance for the Iowa/Penn State game on Sept. 23.
Some booed, many more quietly turned and left for the exit.
It happened after No. 4 Penn State marched 80 yards down the field with time evaporating, and quarterback Trace McSorely found Juwan Jackson in the end zone as time expired, pushing the Nittany Lions ahead, 21-19.
With just 4 seconds left on the clock and facing fourth and 7 to the end zone, McSorely capped a surreal night game in Kinnick.
A heavy underdog, Iowa was expected by most to lose by a large margin to the Penn State offensive powerhouse.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said the goal for the team was to make it to the fourth quarter.
“You’re the underdog team, significant underdog team, and the idea is to get there in the fourth quarter, however you do it,” Ferentz said. “It’s one of those deals … They’ve got a really prolific offense. They execute it very well, but our guys kept battling and gave us a chance to win the football game.”
Though it could not hold Penn State on the last drive of the game, Iowa’s defense did an incredible job of keeping the Nittany Lions’ score low.
Through the first half, Iowa gave up just 5 points 2 on a safety — even though the Lions made it into Iowa territory six times. A missed field goal kept the opponent at 3 points, and an Iowa interception by Josey Jewell set up the Hawkeyes for a Nate Stanley to Nick Easley touchdown pass, putting Iowa up 7-5 heading into the half.
“As a defense that’s our job — to put out the fire, to come out there, and do fundamental defense, and give the offense a chance,” Jewell said. “That’s what we do all day.”
He had yet another impressive game in his senior campaign, posting 16 tackles — 11 solo and 3 for a loss — 2 pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
Sophomore Anthony Nelson also played a vital role on defense, putting together 5 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter to hold Penn State to a 1-point lead with just under three minutes left to play.
Nelson, however, was not satisfied with the performance.
“I really don’t feel like I played well. There are a lot of things I’m going to see, and that I already know now, and I haven’t even seen the film that I need to improve on,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of stuff that I already know I need to get better at.”
The offense, though it heated up in the fourth quarter, had trouble finding its groove against the tough Penn State defense. Through 45 minutes of play, the Hawkeyes had just 5 first downs and put up only 113 yards of total offense. Then they added 160 yards in the fourth quarter.
A key in the fourth quarter was running back Akrum Wadley, who scored both touchdowns. The first was on a short pass turned into a 70-yard score and the second on the 35-yard rush to put the Hawkeyes ahead 19-15 with 1:42 left.
Wadley, like the rest of the offense, had trouble getting into a rhythm to start. At halftime, he had 10 rushing attempts but netted 0 yards as he was stifled by the Penn State defense.
Emotional after the game, Wadley said the first half was frustrating.
“Of course it was frustrating; we were working hard, and we just wanted to play complementary football,” Wadley said. “The defense played a hell of a game, and we just wanted to get the offense going.”