Spencer Petras and Nico Ragaini hooked up on a 44-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 remaining Saturday as No. 3 Iowa rallied to a 23-20 victory over No. 4 Penn State in a Big Ten battle at Iowa City.
Iowa’s Charlie Jones also scored a touchdown and Caleb Shudak kicked three field goals in a rare top-five matchup for each school. The Nittany Lions hadn’t played in a top-five showdown since 1999, while the Hawkeyes hadn’t hosted a matchup of top-five squads since 1985.
Despite trailing 17-3 in the second quarter, Iowa (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) chipped away at the deficit while Penn State (5-1, 2-1) struggled without quarterback Sean Clifford, who exited early in the second quarter with an undisclosed arm injury. The Hawkeyes got within 17-10 at halftime but later trailed by 10 before Shudak kicked a 48-yard field goal late in the third quarter and booted another one from 36 yards out with 8:08 remaining to make it 20-16.
The decisive play came on when Petras rolled out to his right and threw back across the field to a wide-open Ragaini, who rumbled to the left pylon for the go-ahead score.
Penn State’s final three possessions ended in a turnover on downs, an interception, and another turnover on downs as the Hawkeyes clinched their 12th straight win.
Clifford was injured on a clean hit by Jack Campbell as he released the ball. He missed the Nittany Lions’ final three drives of the first half, during which the team netted minus-19 total yards with Ta’Quan Roberson at quarterback.
Already up 7-3, the visitors expanded their lead late in the first quarter after Petras’ pass was deflected and intercepted by Jaquan Brisker. That set up Penn State just 39 yards from the end zone, and four plays later, Clifford ran in on a quarterback draw for a 14-3 cushion.
Jordan Stout kicked a 32-yard field goal on the play after Clifford’s injury to make it 17-3, but Iowa followed with an 11-play, 75-yard drive to close the margin to 17-10. Petras found Jones, who stumbled before diving for the pylon for a 9-yard TD, the final score of the half.
Petras finished 17 of 31 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Clifford completed 15 of 25 passes for 146 yards with two interceptions before an overmatched Roberson went 7 of 20 for 34 yards and two picks.
–Field Level Media