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Nov. 9, 2008
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Third-ranked Penn State saw its unbeaten season come to a heart-breaking end, as Iowa's Daniel Murray kicked a 31-yard field goal with :01 left to give the Hawkeyes a 24-23 victory.
The loss dropped the Nittany Lions to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. Despite the outcome, Penn State controls its fate in for the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State (8-2 overall) is atop the conference standings with a 6-1 mark and is idle until visiting Beaver Stadium on Nov. 22 in the regular season finale. Penn State and Ohio State are 5-1 in the league and can move into a tie for first with victories next week.
Penn State controlled the clock on the cold, cloudy and breezy day, and took a 23-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Iowa took possession at the Penn State 44 with 12:20 to play and got an 18-yard pass from Ricky Stanzi to Brandon Myers Shonn Greene ran 11 yards for a first down and then six yards for a touchdown to pull the Hawkeyes within 23-21 with 9:20 to play. Greene finished with 117 yards on 28 carries, becoming just the second runner to gain 100 yards on the Lions this season.
On their next possession, the Nittany Lions were forced to punt, but Iowa was called for roughing punter Jeremy Boone, giving Penn State a new set of downs. The Lions moved to the Iowa 23, but Daryll Clark was picked off by Tyler Sash, who returned the ball 14 yards to the Iowa 29. The interception was just the third of the season in 223 attempts.
The Hawkeyes threw an incompletion on third-and-15, but Penn State was called for pass interference, giving Iowa a first down at its own 39. Stanzi threw a pair of completions to Myers for first downs and then hit with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for 10 yards for a first down at the PSU 29. On third-and-six, Stanzi hit Johnson-Koulianos for a 10-yard gain to the PSU 15. After two runs by Greene, the Hawkeyes called timeout with :06 left and brought Murray onto the field for the game-winning attempt.
The Nittany Lions ran for 180 yards on an Iowa defense that was allowing 1007 yards, good for 12th nationally. Sophomore tailback Evan Royster became the 12th Nittany Lion to run for 1,000 yards in a season, as he gained 90 yards on a career-high 26 carries and scored his 11th touchdown of the season. Royster has 1,060 yards this season on 161 carries for a 6.6 average.
Senior wide receiver Derrick Williams had a big game with 154 all-purpose yards He took several direct snaps and ran for 53 yards on a career-best 12 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Williams made a team-high three catches for 43 yards and returned three kickoffs 58 yards. He also completed the first pass of his career, good for 23 yards to tight end Mickey Shuler.
Clark was 9 of 23 for 86 yards. Senior wideout Deon Butler made three receptions to give him 167 in his career, moving into a tie with Bobby Engram for the all-time lead at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions held the ball for 23:34 in the first half and finished the game with 35:52 of possession time.
The Penn State defense limited Iowa to 272 yards (101 rushing) and forced two turnovers. Sophomore linebacker Navorro Bowman made eight tackles, with a tackle for loss, and junior linebacker Josh Hull also made eight stops and recovered a fumble in Iowa territory to set-up a score. Junior DT Jared Odrick made seven hits, with two sacks and a forced fumble. Senior cornerback Lydell Sargeant had six tackles and two pass break-ups.
The game got off to a rocky start for the Nittany Lions. On their third play from scrimmage, Clark was hit and fumbled, scrambling to recover the ball at the PSU 1. With Jeremy Boone having to kick into the wind, the Hawkeyes returned the punt to the PSU 25. Greene ran 11 yards on first down and 14 yards on the next play for a 7-0 lead just 2:06 into the game.
The Nittany Lions' took their ensuing possession and proceeded to post their longest drive of the season for plays (19) and time (9:43), marching 76 yards. Penn State had first-and-goal from the Iowa two, but was forced to bring on Kevin Kelly, who connected on a 23-yard field goal with 4:11 left in the first.
Kelly's field goal was the 73rd of his career, becoming the Big Ten leader, passing Ohio State's Mike Nugent. Kelly extended his school record by kicking at least one field goal in the 30th consecutive game.
Penn State forced a three-and-out and Clark led the Lions to the go-ahead score. Royster finished the drive with a two-yard run for a 10-7 lead 12:32 left in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions held the ball for 12:48 in the opening period and had owned possession for 15:06 following Royster's 11th touchdown of the season.
The Nittany Lion defense forced another punt and Clark led Penn State on another long scoring drive. Kelly connected from 31 yards out for a 13-7 lead with just :55 left in the half. The 16-play drive went 78 yards and consumed 8:18, giving the Lions 23:34 of possession time in the opening half.
Josh Gaines finished the half with a sack of Ricky Stanzi, as the Lions held the Hawkeyes to just 70 yards in the half, while gaining 203 (138 rushing, 65 passing). Penn State has out-scored the opposition, 151-37, in the second quarter this year.
On Iowa's opening possession of the third quarter, senior linebacker Tyrell Sales grabbed his first career interception, returning it 10 yards to the Iowa 29. Kelly again was called upon and connected on a 25-yard field goal, his third of the game, for a 16-7 lead with 10:26 left in the third stanza. The field goal was the 75th of Kelly's career.
The Hawkeyes responded by driving 73 yards on 10 plays. Stanzi connected with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos from 27 yards out to draw Iowa within 16-14 with 4:43 left in the third frame.
Following a Penn State punt, linebacker Josh Hull pounced on a fumble at the Iowa 28. Williams took a direct snap and navigated nine yards for a touchdown and a 23-14 lead with :29 left in the third. The carry was Williams' 10th of the game, a career-high.
Iowa pulled within two, as Greene completed a 44-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run with 9:20 left in the game to cut the Lions' leas to 23-21.
Penn State returns to Happy Valley for its last two contests, having won 25 of its last 27 home games. The Nittany Lions host Indiana on Saturday in the first meeting between the teams in Beaver Stadium since 2003. The Hoosiers lost to Wisconsin, 55-20, on Saturday. The contest will kick at 12:00 p.m. and air nationally on the Big Ten Network. The Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com also will air the contest.