Hawkeyes' Shonn Greene Continues to Impress, Iowa Loses Road Opener

Ty HeglandContributor ISeptember 21, 2008

If there were any questions for the Iowa Hawkeyes following their 20-21 loss against Pittsburgh on Saturday, it wasn't their running game.  Shonn Greene has provided the Iowa offense with a breath of fresh air after coming off a dismal '07 season.  Greene has four straight 100-yard games, running for 147 yards on 23 carries including a touchdown Saturday at Pitt.

Although Greene had another great game, it takes more than one player to win football games.  The Hawkeyes have had a tough time winning games away from home in recent years.   The Iowa defense had performed at a very high level in their first three games of the season; however, their dominance wasn't as great this week.  The Hawkeye defense surrendered three touchdowns after allowing six points total their first three weeks.

On Pittsburgh's first offensive play, Iowa's Tyler Sash forced a fumble from Pittsburgh running back, LeSean McCoy, giving Iowa great field position.  The Hawkeyes were only able to capitalize with a field goal from kicker, Trent Mossbrucker. 

Iowa has outscored its opponents 41-0 during the first quarter this season.  Their scoreless streak ended Saturday when Pittsburgh backup quarterback, Greg Cross scampered for a 17-yard touchdown run with just over six minutes left in the first quarter, giving the Panthers a 7-3 lead.

Pitt scored again early in the second quarter from a six yard touchdown run by quarterback Bill Stull, increasing their lead to 14-3.  The Iowa quarterback situation has been an ongoing competition since the first week between Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi.  Christensen started against Pitt Saturday, but Stanzi entered the game with 12 minutes left in the second quarter.  With just over three minutes left in the half, Iowa put together a touchdown drive capped off by a six yard touchdown run by running back Shonn Greene; this cut the Iowa deficit to four points with a score of 10-14.

Pittsburgh went 3-and-out their next possession giving the ball back to the Hawkeyes with just over two minutes to play in the first half.  It seemed like the Hawks were going to take advantage of the final possession of the half when Ricky Stanzi completed a 48-yard pass to tight end, Tony Moeaki.  However, Iowa kicker, Daniel Murray, missed a 35-yard field goal to keep the Panthers ahead by four points heading into halftime.

The Iowa defense limited LeSean McCoy to 18 yards on six carries in the first half.

Despite Ricky Stanzi completing 70% of his passes, the Iowa coaching staff decided to re-enter Jake Christensen for the rest of the game.  Late in the third quarter, Iowa converted on a crucial 4th-and-2 to keep their drive alive.  Christensen finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give Iowa the lead, 17-14.

On Pitt's next possession, Iowa cornerback, Amari Spievey, intercepted a pass to give the ball back to the Hawkeyes, but they were not able to come away with any points.

Early in the fourth quarter, McCoy was finally able to break a big one when he rumbled down the sideline for a 27-yard touchdown run to re-gain the lead for the Panthers, 21-17.

On Iowa's following possession, Jake Christensen connected for 40 yards with wide receiver, Darrell Johnson-Koulianos, to give Iowa a great scoring opportunity.  Iowa took advantage with a field goal from Trent Mossbrucker to pull Iowa within one, 20-21.

Teams traded punts as time dwindled down in the fourth quarter.  Pitt had the ball with just minutes remaining; one first down could put the game out of reach for the Hawkeyes.  The Iowa defense came up big and the Panthers were forced to punt and give Iowa one more chance at the win.  However, Iowa was forced to use their timeouts on defense.

The timeout problem is what ultimately downed the Hawkeyes.  Forced to run a no-huddle offense, Iowa seemed to be thrown off.  With under a minute remaining, Christensen tried to scramble for a first down when he was hit from behind and fumbled: Pittsburgh recovered.

With no way to stop the clock, Pitt just sat on the ball and came out on top, 21-20.  The Iowa defense proved to be mortal dropping the Hawkeyes to 3-1 on the year. 

McCoy lead the Panther offense rushing for 78 yards on 18 carries including a touchdown, improving the team to 2-1.

Next week:

Iowa (3-1) vs. Northwestern

Pittsburgh (2-1) @ Syracuse