Things got somewhat interesting in the fourth quarter, but Penn State was able to hold on and come away with a 27-7 win over Iowa. The Lions improved to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes fell to 2-4 and 0-3.
On Penn State's first offensive drive of the fourth quarter, Brett Greenwood picked off an Anthony Morelli pass intended for Derrick Williams at the Iowa 15-yard line. With the ball back, Jake Christensen connected with Trey Stross on a 21-yard fade pass. Christensen capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Stross, which brought the score to 20-7.
Penn State seemed content with giving the ball to Rodney Kinlaw, who broke the 100-yard mark for the day at the 12-minute mark of the fourth quarter. However, Morelli threw an interception with 9:47 left in the quarter, giving the ball right back to the Hawkeyes.
Iowa tried to move the ball down the field, but Sean Lean made a nice open-field tackle on Albert Young to force a turnover on downs. With the ball back on offense, Penn State still ran the ball with Kinlaw, who ultimately ran for a 23-yard touchdown burst to seal the deal and bring the score to 27-7. Kinlaw, despite the early fumble, ended the game with a career-high 168 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
Aaron Maybin recorded two sacks on the last Iowa offensive drive, in addition to forcing a fumble, which allowed Daryll Clark to take the field for Penn State and take a knee.
The third quarter began with Iowa receiving the kickoff. However, the Hawkeyes' offense continued to be shut down, as Maurice Evans sacked Jake Christensen on the opening offensive play. After forcing a three-and-out, Penn State got the ball back.
Evan Royster remained the featured back for the Nittany Lions, but it was Anthony Morelli who settled in and began connecting with his receivers with regularity. As with the second quarter, Morelli looked poised as he was given the opportunity to throw the ball vertically down the field.
However, Royster left the game with a thigh injury after breaking a run out of bounds and did not return for the remainder of the quarter.
After orchestrating a drive down to the Iowa 10-yard line, Rodney Kinlaw returned to the field and carried the ball into the end zone for the score, extending Penn State's lead to 20-0.
As has been the norm for the game, Iowa's offense was unable to put anything together, and the Nittany Lions found themselves back with the ball. After moving the ball into Iowa territory, and originally thinking about going for it on fourth and one, Kevin Kelly missed a 44-yard field goal.
The third quarter ended with Penn State leading 20-0 and in complete control of the action.
Morelli was 18 of 28 for 233 and one score through three quarters. Royster had 86 yards on 16 carries.
Iowa had 34 offensive plays for a total of 54 yards through three.
The second quarter began with the Penn State defense bottling up the Iowa offense inside the Hawkeyes' own 5. On the ensuing Hawkeye punt, Derrick Williams sprung a 16-yard punt return. The run could have been extended, but PSU special teams player Bani Gbadyu began walking off the field and missed a block that could have opened the field for Williams.
Rodney Kinlaw remained on the bench the entire second quarter, while Evan Royster continued to run with authority and appeared to get into the end zone on the initial offensive series. However, the play was reviewed and showed that the redshirt freshman's knee was down at the half-yard line. Despite the outstanding field position, on the next play, tight end Mickey Shuler false started, and Penn State was unable to punch the ball in for a touchdown. Kevin Kelly hit the easy field goal to put the Nittany Lions up 3-0.
The Nittany Lions' defense continued to absolutely stifle the Iowa offense, and Penn State's offense quickly got the ball back following every Hawkeyes' possession.
Penn State saw its best success on offense when Anthony Morelli began to sling the ball vertically down the field. Morelli looked as comfortable and poised as he has all season when he was able to look down the field and unleash passes. He connected with Deon Butler for a big gain on one play late in the second quarter. On the next play, Morelli again passed the ball vertically down the field, but Chris Bell dropped a pass right in the chest, negating a potential touchdown.
The Bell drop wasn't as costly as it could have otherwise been, because Morelli then went down the field for the third time, this time connecting with Williams for the score.
The defense forced an Iowa punt and with 30 seconds left on the clock and starting at its own 20-yard line, Penn State called a draw to Royster, who broke the run open for 17 yards. Two plays later, Morelli hit tight end Andrew Quarless on a diving catch to the Iowa 36-yard line. Morelli spiked the ball to stop the clock with two seconds left, setting up Kevin Kelly with 53-yard field goal attempt.
Kelly nailed the field goal right down the middle, sending the Nittany Lions into the locker room with a 13-0 lead. It was the longest boot of his career.
Royster had 58 yards on 12 carries in the half. Morelli was 13 of 20 for 163 yards and a score.
The Iowa offense had 53 total yards on 25 plays, as linebacker Sean Lee paced the Lions with seven tackles.
Penn State's offense struggled early while the defense dominated and special teams fired on all cylinders. Sound familiar?
The first gaff of the day on offense came just over three minutes in when Rodney Kinlaw fumbled inside Iowa territory. The Nittany Lions will go the game without the services of Austin Scott, who has been dismissed from the team according to our sources. In any event, Kinlaw remained in the game for the next offensive series after the Penn State defense forced a punt from the Hawkeyes.
Later in the quarter, QB Anthony Morelli was sacked and fumbled, although the Nittany Lions recovered the ball. Morelli looked inconsistent throughout the first quarter, as has been par to this point in the season. He missed an open Terrell Golden on a third down play and on a subsequent drive, missed backup running back Evan Royster on an easy screen pass on a third down. Upon missing the open running back on the third down, Morelli was met with boos as he left the field.
Of note, the backup running back Royster came into the game for the first time at the 6:00 mark of the first quarter. Royster finished the quarter with two totes for eight yards.
Morelli finished the quarter going 5-10 and 30 yards. Kinlaw had 5 carries for 30 yards. The Penn State defense held Iowa to 15 plays and 35 yards. Penn State's offense garnered 74 yards on 18 plays.
With neither team's offense able to create any meaningful scoring opportunities, the first quarter ended with the score 0-0.