Defense wins championships. At least that is what Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is hoping for because his offense is definitely not lighting up score boards or bringing fans to their feet. The Nittany Lions snapped a losing skid to the Iowa Hawkeyes, losing the last three and losing eight of the past nine since 2000, winning 13-3 Saturday in Happy Valley.
The Lion defense, ranked 5th in total defense , led the way holding the Big Ten’s best passing attack to just 169 yards through the air. The Lions also forced three turnovers on the day, intercepting two passes and forcing two fumbles scooping up one.
Iowa junior quarterback James Vandenberg had looked sharp all year after stepping in following a great career by former Hawkeye and current Chief Ricky Stanzi. But, he couldn’t find a rhythm against the stout Nittany Lion defense.
Vandenberg finished the day 17 of 34 passing with 169 yards and the two interceptions. Making it even harder for Vandenberg, the Hawkeyes ground game was no where to be found mustering only 84 yards on 30 carries for the day. Junior Hawkeye running back had 74 of that on 18 attempts.
The struggling Nittany Lion offense found some success running the ball amassing 231 rushing yards. Sophomore running backs Silas Redd and Curtis Dukes teamed up for a big game rushing. Redd busted out 142 yards on 28 carries and Dukes pitched in 60 yards on 9 attempts.
The inconsistent quarterback play that has plagued this offense all year reared it’s head again this game. Sophomore quarterback Rob Bolden was 3 of 7 early on for 31 yards, but looked tense and short armed a couple of intermediate passes leading to a switch. Junior quarterback Matt McGloin stepped in and gave the offense somewhat of a spark for three quarters. McGloin finished the game competing 12 passes on 19 attempts for 133 yards with one touchdown and one costly interception.
The Lions gained 395 total yards on the day but struggled to find the end zone leaving points on the field time and time again. McGloin threw a pick in the end zone on a third and five from the 6 yard line going in. But, as it has done all year long the Nittany Lion defense came in saved the day.
After the interception and losing 6-3 early in the fourth quarter Vandenberg dropped back to pass and got hit by Lion junior linebacker Gerald Hodges losing the ball eventually pounced on by senior linebacker Nate Supar in Iowa territory. Penn State took advantage running off ten straight rush attempts to move the ball down to the Iowa 2 yard line. McGloin found sophomore tight end Kevin Haplea for a touchdown. It was Haplea’s first career touchdown reception and proved to be all the Lions needed to seal the victory.
The Lions got two 20 yard field goals by sophomore kicker Anthony Fera before the touchdown. Scoring on the day for the Hawkeyes was sophomore kicker Mike Meyer.
The Lions improved to 5-1 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play while the Hawkeyes will have to regroup at 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the early Big Ten season. Penn State meets the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday at noon eastern time while Iowa looks to bounce back going home for a game against the Northwestern Wildcats.