No. 3 Iowa Comes Back to Beat No. 4 Penn State 23-20, Chaos Ensues

Photo Credit: Kim Montuoro

IOWA CITY, Iowa – When Iowa commandeered the 23-20 lead that would secure the bag against Penn State Saturday night, whispers of fans storming the field spread throughout Kinnick Stadium like wildfire.

Some might argue that with 6:26 left to play in the game, field-storming plans would appear premature. But being prepared for anything is just the Hawkeye way.

“It’s just football,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz post game. “There’s ebb and flow, we weren’t planning vengeance.”

But everybody knows retribution is best served cold and off the cuff.

Photo Credit: Kim Montuoro

Penn State suffered several setbacks that led to the Nittany Lions surrendering their coveted lead, including an undisclosed injury to starting quarterback Sean Clifford and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, who suffered an injury to his left knee on the very first series and was on crutches on the sideline in the second half.

All Clifford could do was watch as his backup, redshirt sophomore Ta’Quan Roberson struggled to gain yardage and score points. Penn State had only three second half points and 29 passing yards.
Meanwhile, Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras found his groove in the second half, throwing for 112 yards and a 44-yard touchdown to Nico Ragaini to claim the lead.
Photo Credit: Kim Montuoro

“Nico ran a crazy-good route, really awesome,” exclaimed Petras after the game. “Just a really great call, great play design, came at the right moment – not a moment too soon.”

The Marin Catholic High School alum finished the game 17-31 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, with just one interception. Ragaini finished with four catches for 73 yards and the winning touchdown. Tyler Goodson added some balance to the Hawkeyes offense with 26 carries for 79 yards.

Ragaini may be the hero but the real MVP was the special teams dynamic duo of senior kicker Caleb Shudak, who went 3-3 with a long of 48 yards and sophomore punter Tory Taylor, who punted nine times for 398 yards, averaging 44.2 yards per punt.
Photo Credit: Kim Montuoro

“I was teasing Jason Baker, he really changed field position in 2000 and the same thing with Tory today – a little different but he was really pinning them in there and making them go the long field,” said Ferentz of his Aussie punter.

Not to be outdone, Penn State kicker/punter Jordan Stout nailed two field goals of his own from 32 and 44 respectively and punted five times for a total of 252 yards, averaging 50.4 yards per punt.

Iowa’s defense took that good field position and ran with it, pinning Penn State back and never letting them come up for air in those final six minutes. And as the fans streamed on to Duke Slater field, some making snow angels in the endzone, others taking beer baths and a select few booting and rallying, the Iowa football players beat a hasty retreat to their locker-room to celebrate the victory as a team. The chaos proved just a little too much.

Photo Credit: Kim Montuoro

“It’s exciting, the fans rushing and what not but once you experience it the first time, you will be trying to get off the field as quick as possible,” shared senior defensive back Matt Hankins, who’s first field rush came after an Ohio State win his freshman year. Hankins admitted that Buckeye victory is his top field rushing moment, but admitted that the crowd in Kinnick tonight was the loudest he has ever heard.

Penn State will head home and take a beat before hosting a struggling Illinois squad in Week 8. Iowa will host Purdue next Saturday as the Hawkeyes look to remain one of the 13 unbeaten teams.

Written by Emily Van Buskirk

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