On Saturday afternoon as Hawkeye Nation watched the start of the fourth quarter with an impending 1-2 season, the NCAA football gods had different ideas for the home team. In an epic fourth quarter rally, Iowa pulled it together and beat Pitt, 31-27.
Dare I say, “Good teams find a way to win?”
Pitt got on the board first with a touchdown by running back phenom Ray Graham and then a field goal in the first quarter. For the second consecutive week, Iowa’s defense looked slow and lacked power.
The Hawkeyes finally got on the board in the second quarter with a 22-yard field goal by Mike Meyer.
Penalties dominated Iowa’s play during the first two quarters. Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg incurred his first interception of the season and Meyer missed his first field goal.
Pitt entered halftime leading 10-3.
As the third quarter approached its end, Vandenberg gave Iowa its first touchdown of the game but entering the fourth quarter, Pitt led 24-10. They scored a field goal around the 12-minute mark to take a 27-10 lead. It would be the Panther’s last score of the game.
The much-needed momentum change by Iowa wasn’t there. Yet.
Let the Rally Begin
Vandenberg got hot in the fourth quarter, going 9 for 9, enabling wide receiver Keenan Davis to get a touchdown at the 9:55 mark.
Hello momentum change.
With over six minutes remaining, wide receiver Kevante Martin-Manley grabbed a touchdown and got Iowa within four at the 6:19 mark. Meyer hit the extra point. The crowd grew loud and started to believe.
It was now a three-point game.
The nail in the coffin for Pitt came with less than three minutes remaining. Iowa scored the go-ahead touchdown with a 22-yard pass from Vandenberg to Martin-Manley. Meyer hit the extra point and the three touchdowns by Vandenberg in the fourth quarter got the job done.
Pitt was unable to stage a rally after Hyde grabbed his second interception of the game with 1:42 remaining.
Iowa’s 21-point comeback was the greatest one in Hawkeye history, according to Iowa’s sports information.
For the day, Vandenberg was 31 for 48, 399 yards, three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and one interception. He got hot at the right time and played extremely well under pressure.
Running back Marcus Coker had 23 carries for 86 yards. After two phenomenal games, Iowa held Pitt’s Graham to his first game below 100 yards. He was 22 carries for 97 yards.
Looking at Iowa’s wide receivers, Davis had a career-high 10 receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown. Martin-Manley had four receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Elder statesman Marvin McNutt , Jr. went eight for 112 yards for the day.
Moving to cornerback Micah Hyde was a bright spot on the defense with two interceptions for Iowa.
Next week, Iowa finishes the non-conference play against the University of Louisiana – Monroe. Let’s hope it’s a quiet end.
About the Author
Written by Debbie Baratz