A Halloween Scare Turns to Iowa High-Fives
Oct. 31, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes took a page out of the vintage rock `n roll songbook of Bachman Turner Overdrive Saturday afternoon at historic Kinnick Stadium and simply "took care of business," - for the game's final 14:13 - defeating the Indiana Hoosiers, 42-24, for their ninth straight win of 2009 and 13th overall.
Trailing 24-14, Iowa's beleaguered signal-caller Ricky Stanzi opened the fourth quarter with touchdown passes of 92 yards to Marvin McNutt and 66 yards to Darrell Johnson-Koulianos on back-to-back offensive plays to vault Iowa into its first lead of the day at 28-24 with 11:38 to play.
Then, after another three-and-out by an Indiana team that was now trying to be offensive into a 30-mile per wind, the Hawkeyes pushed their margin to 34-24 when Brandon Wegher waltzed untouched six yards with 7:34 left to play in front of a crowd spooked by all that had transpired during this Halloween Day affair.
Wegher tied the bow on the box of Halloween treats with a 27-yard run up the Hoosiers' gut with just 72 clicks left on the clock.
"I can't believe what I've seen for the last three hours," said an elated Ed Podolak of the Hawkeye Radio Network.
"How about the last 40 mintues," fired back Ed's partner, Gary Dolphin, who was reveling in the Hawkeyes' 28-point fourth quarter explosion.
"There's something very special going on here," Dolphin continued. "And the Hawkeyes would be the first to admit it." Indiana opened the game with an 11-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. The Hoosiers took it to 14-0 midway through the second quarter when they took maximum advantage of an eight-yard Iowa punt.
Iowa cut the margin in half on its next series when Brandon Wegher rambled four yards to cap a five-play, 85-yard scoring drive. However, this disaster struck the home team when Armari Spievey, seemingly Iowa's 99th punt returner of the season, fumbled away the pigskin on the five with 26 seconds before intermission. Three plays later, Indiana was up 21-7.
Fans of the Hawkeyes should have known something remarkably remarkable was going to happen in the game's last two quarters when Iowa cut the margin to seven when Tyler Sash grabbed the football out of thin air for an 86-yard interception return.
The game was marred by eight interceptions - five by Stanzi and four of those in the third quarter. It was also interrupted in a good way by two official reviews of what appeared to be Indiana touchdowns but resulted in just three points for the visiting team.
Stanzi's personal house of horrors -- a third quarter that included four interceptions, two inside Indiana's 10 that would have gone for touchdowns had it not been for a 25 mile per wind - was replaced by a thing-of-beauty fourth quarter that saw him pass for two touchdowns and watch his starting running back ramble for a two more.
"There's quarterbacks that would have left for the dorm. It's a testament to Stanzi's confidence. I just love the kid for bouncing back," said ESPN's Bob Davie of Stanzi, who completed the game with 13 completions, 337 yards and the aforementioned two touchdowns. He was 3-for-3 for a bucketfull of yards and two scores in the fourth quarter.
"I've never been involved in a game like this and I'm not sure I've never seen one. What a turn of events. We certainly made it tough on ourselves. Fortunately, we made some plays," said Kirk Ferentz after watching his team come from behind yet again.
"We definitely have been a second half team and today a fourth quarter team. They know this game goes 60 minutes. They refuse to quit. They understand football is a crazy game and that all you can do as a football player is keep playing,"
Wegher, who made his first start of the season, gained a career-high 118 yards on 25 carries. His third touchdown run was his longest of the day and also his longest of the season. Marvin McNutt had a team-high four catches for 155 yards and the fourth-longest touchdown pass in school history. Johnson-Koulianos had three grabs for 117 yards.
"There's no quit in this team. We're going to play four quarters each week," said Sash, who said the interception first bounced off his helmet and was tipped by linebacker A.J. Edds before the safety grabbed it and "ran for my life."
"Unbelievable. That's all I can say," he added.
Iowa returns to action Saturday against Northwestern. Game time at Kinnick Stadium is set for 11 a.m. Iowa time. ESPN will be back in the house providing the national television coverage.