MOUNT VERNON - Cornell knew that any chance for success against unbeaten Lake Forest (Ill.) would begin and end with stopping the Foresters' star tailback, Joey Valdivia.
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PLAY OF THE GAME
The Setup – Penn State took over for its final drive with 1:42 remaining in the Big Ten Conference opener, needing 80 yards and a touchdown to beat Iowa, which had just gone up 19-15 thanks to a 35-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley.
With two timeouts and likely the nation’s best running back in Saquon Barkley, the Nittany Lions drove 73 yards in 11 plays, all but one through the air – the lone rush from quarterback Trace McSorley, who was flushed out by the Hawkeyes pass rush. McSorley found four different receivers, including Barkley to set up the game-winning play from the seven yard-line with four seconds remaining.
The Iowa defense, which was on the field for 11 of the 15 minutes of the fourth quarter, hit McSorley and nearly intercepted a pass on that final drive – but only nearly.
What Happened – McSorley lined up in the shotgun on fourth and goal from the Iowa seven yard-line with 0:04 to go and Barkley next to him in the backfield. While most in the stadium probably expected the Heisman candidate to see the ball, Barkley was tasked as a blocker.
McSorley took five quick steps back as Barkley stepped up to block a blitzing Josey Jewell and fired up the seam to wide receiver Juwan Johnson, who was breaking on a route in the slot while being defended by Iowa safety Miles Taylor.
The Results – McSorley had the ball out on Johnson’s break and it found the 6-foot-4 sophomore in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown as the clock hit 0:00.
The Nittany Lions dashed the Hawkeyes’ hopes of another top-five upset on a night game at Kinnick Stadium, wearing down Iowa’s defense on a drive emblematic of the game. Penn State ran 99 plays to Iowa’s 45, and possessed the ball for 39:39 compared to Iowa’s 20:21.
The last-second touchdown carried Penn State to 4-0 this season and 1-0 to start Big Ten play, while it dropped Iowa to 3-1 and 0-1.
THE LAST STAND
At least two of the food vendors on Melrose Avenue across the street from Kinnick Stadium were selling bottled water for the very reasonable price of $1.
“We won’t gouge anybody,” said Tom Slade of Solon, who was working at The Last Stand.
Someone at Mincer Country Catering’s stand echoed that, saying “That wouldn’t be right on a hot day like this.”
Meanwhile, among the many shirts for sale at the Hawkeye Fan Shop stand on Melrose was one that said “Hawkeyes Against the Nation.”
It’s an Us-Against-the-World mentality, sure. But it doesn’t seem very patriotic.
This doesn't seem very patriotic to me: pic.twitter.com/5iMhwcqWzd— Mike Hlas (@Hlas) September 23, 2017
One of the best linebackers in Iowa history made his return to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night, and it was plainly obvious how excited he was about it.
Former Hawkeyes and Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was Iowa’s honorary captain while being honored as the latest member of the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor. Greenway made a couple of appearances at midfield – first for the coin toss, then to get his ANF award – and did his best to get the Kinnick Stadium crowd going, gesturing wildly and waving his arms.
Greenway played at Iowa from 2002-05 and was named All-American in his junior and senior seasons before going onto a 10-year NFL career with the Vikings, which ended after last season. A South Dakota native, Greenway is the first non-Iowan to be named to the ANF Wall of Honor.
BY THE NUMBERS
66,205 – Attendance for Saturday’s game
358 – All-purpose yards for Penn State’s Saquon Barkley
105 – Yards in two scoring plays by Akrum Wadley
99 – Plays ran by Penn State
80 – Yards on the game-winning drive by Penn State
48 – Total yards in the first half for Iowa
16 – Total tackles by Josey Jewell
11 – Minutes Penn State had possession in the fourth quarter
4 – Sacks by Iowa
3 – Quarterback hurries by Iowa freshman A.J. Epenesa
3 – First downs in the first half for Iowa
2 – Turnovers forced by Iowa
2 – Field goals blocked in the game
1 – Play run in Penn State territory by Iowa in the first half
0 – First half rushing yards for Wadley, on 10 carries
Iowa’s injuries had started to add up through the first three weeks, in which the Hawkeyes saw several key players miss time or sustain injuries that would keep them out for a while. Despite that and a bruising game against Penn State, the Hawkeyes went essentially injury-free Saturday night against the Nittany Lions.
The Hawkeyes started the same five offensive linemen for a second straight week for the first time this season – a feat last accomplished late last season. Boone Myers, who had missed some time earlier this season with a leg injury played the whole game, and the only time a regular starter left the field was in the first half, when Keegan Render had to by rule after his helmet came off.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley returned after missing most of the second half against North Texas with a leg injury – for precautionary reasons – and was mostly bottled up by Penn State, save for a 70-yard touchdown reception and 35-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The only Hawkeye player who flirted with an injury Saturday night was cornerback Manny Rugamba, who came up limping on the first series of the game, but never left the field.
Iowa heads on the road for the first time in Big Ten Conference play next week, going to East Lansing, Mich., and Spartan Stadium to face Michigan State (2-1). The Hawkeyes haven’t been on the road to face the Spartans since 2012, when they left with a 19-16 victory. Since then, the teams have played just twice – both losses, the latest of which in the 2015 Big Ten Championship game. Michigan State enters the matchup coming off a 38-18 home loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night. The game is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff on FOX.
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