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UN-HAPPY VALLEY: Iowa shocks Penn State in the national spotlight

Written by: on Sunday, September 27th, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A soaking wet Joe Paterno sat in front of a packed Penn State media room, the lone man on the podium.

“It was going to be a tough football game,” the 386-game winner said. “I think we played a strong game defensively.”

But offensively?

“We just didn’t get it done,” Paterno said.

Those six words could not have more accurately summed up Penn State’s only appearance in the primetime, national spotlight for the 2009 season. The Nittany Lions’ (3-1) normally reliable field general Daryll Clark threw three interceptions, two in the fourth quarter, and Iowa (4-0) stunned the Big 10’s highest ranked team, 21-10, Saturday night in Happy Valley.

Just like in the Syracuse game, Penn State got off to a fast start. The blue and white grabbed a 7-0 lead just 1:45 into the game when Clark hooked up with Chaz Powell on a 79-yard scoring strike.

And after forcing an Iowa punt, Penn State embarked on an impressive 20-play, 68-yard drive that killed 10:15 off of the game clock. Collin Wagner kicked a 27-yard field goal and Penn State, up 10-0, appeared to be in business.

Penn State had rolled up 147 yards of offense. The rout for all the nation to see was on. Then, the first quarter came to an end, and a switch flipped. Offensively, Penn State went into its shell and never poked its head back out.

Iowa capitalized on a safety at the 11:47 mark of the second quarter after forcing a Clark fumble in the end zone, which a Lions’ offensive lineman fell on and recovered, saving a touchdown.

Kicker Daniel Murray booted a 41-yard field goal just over seven minutes later, halving Penn State’s lead to 10-5.

Both teams slugged it out in the third quarter, and Penn State still held the slim five-point lead entering the final stanza.

And that’s where everything, Penn State’s perfect season, Big 10 title and Rose Bowl chances, all of that, unraveled.

Adrian Clayborn blocked Jeremy Boone’s punt and returned it 53 yards for a score. Iowa failed its two-point conversion attempt, leaving the score at 11-10.

Less than three minutes later, Clark was picked off for the second time in the game, this by Iowa’s Pat Angerer, who returned the gift 38 yards. A little over a minute later, Adam Robinson darted into the end zone from 13 yards out, and Iowa held a commanding 18-10 lead.

But Penn State wasn’t initially down for the count. A 36-yard kickoff return by Chaz Powell, with a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds, put Penn State in very good field position with 8:24 left in regulation.

On the very next play, those hopes of a comeback died. Evan Royster fumbled the ball away to Iowa’s Carl Klug, who, like a Visa Card, was everywhere Iowa needed him to be this night.

Murray capped the scoring with a 31-yard field goal with just eight seconds left in the game.

Clark finished the game with 198 yards passing and three interceptions. Royster ran for a team-best 73 yards. Powell had three catches for 96 yards. Navarro Bowman and Josh Hull each finished with 13 tackles.

Robinson led Iowa with 91 yards on 19 carries. Brandon Wegher added 80 yards rushing, as the Hawkeyes outrushed Penn State 188-125. Hawkeye field general Ricky Stanzi finished 11-of-26 for 135 yards and two picks.

Former Manheim Central star Jeremiha Hunter finished with 12 tackles (1.5 for loss) for Iowa.

Both teams finished with 323 total yards of offense.

Paterno, though, wouldn’t place the blame for the loss solely on Clark.

“They (Iowa) were sound,” he said. “They played good defense and they reacted well. It (the loss) was a team thing. No one player or play lost it.

“We just got whipped,” he concluded.

Penn State goes on the road next weekend to face Illinois, which lost to Ohio State 30-0 Saturday in Columbus.

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