Pittsburgh – After losing to their biggest rival at home last week, the Iowa Hawkeyes had to forget what happened and travel out east to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers out of the ACC.
In a game that seemed to be positioned toward a blowout at halftime, Iowa responded from being outplayed in the first half to come out with a 24-20 victory over Pitt.
The Hawkeyes came out flat to start the game on both sides of the ball, allowing numerous big plays to running back James Conner and wide receiver Tyler Boyd.
The Panthers started the scoring on their first drive of the game on a 14-yard run from Chris James to give Pitt the 7-0 lead. Running the ball was a common theme in the Panther offense, totaling 185 yards on the day against a very good Iowa rushing defense. Conner led the charge for the Panthers on the ground carrying the ball 29 times for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa, however, responded right back on the ensuing drive going 75 yards on 7 plays capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass
from quarterback Jake Rudock to Henry Krieger-Coble to tie the game. Rudock finished his afternoon completing five of his ten passes for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Pitt took control of the game after that, adding a touchdown run from Conner and a 33-yard field goal from Chris Blewitt making the halftime score 17-7.
Coach Kirk Ferentz must have said the right things coming out of locker room after halftime, as Iowa came out sharp in every facet of the game and outscored the Panthers 17-3 in the second half.
In the second half, a change in quarterback seemed to jumpstart the stagnant Hawkeye offense. C.J. Beathard replaced Jake Rudock to begin the second half and immediately made his presence known in different ways. His highlight of the afternoon was a 63-yard completion to Damond Powell, who caught it one-handed, that set up Mark Weisman’s first touchdown of the game from 10 yards out to cut the deficit to 17-14.
“It feels good to have an adrenaline rush and go out there and play,” Beathard said after the game. “I just try to go out there and make the best of every opportunity I can.”
Beathard finished with 98 yards passing; completing seven of his eight passes.
After the teams exchanged field goals, Iowa took the lead for good on a 1-yard touchdown by Weisman to give the Hawkeyes the final margin of victory.
Coach Ferentz was proud of the effort of his team after the heartbreaking defeat last weekend.
“We are just very happy to get the win today. It didn’t come easy,” Ferentz said. “Pitt is a very good and tough football team, but I’m very proud of our guys.”
“Our staff did a good job of making adjustments after the first half, but I give a lot of credit to the players on making changes as well.”
On the defensive side of the ball, John Lowdermilk led the charge with eleven tackles seven of them solo. Louis Trinca-Pasat and Quinton Alston were close behind with eight and seven tackles respectively. Drew Ott had the only sack of the game for either side corralling Panther quarterback Chad Voytik.
The lone turnover forced by the Hawkeyes sealed the game as Anthony Gair picked off a Voytik pass in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter to put an end to the Panther’s potential game-winning drive.
The Hawkeye defense as a whole took some steps forward after the debacle last week, and this will hopefully be a tipping point in the right direction going into next week.
Iowa will travel to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers to open Big Ten Conference play next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11:00.