|Score by Quarters
||PSU - TEAM Safety, punt snap kicked out
of end zone
||IOWA - Kyle Schlicher 27-yard field goal
||IOWA - Kyle Schlicher 27-yard field goal
||PSU - TEAM safety, punter ran out of end zone
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - There was no need to watch Penn State's offense
yesterday to realize how futile it was, with all the missed blocks, the
wayward passes, the stodgy play-calling, the blown field goals, the nonexistent
Actually, it was just as instructive to watch Iowa's late-game
strategy. Leading by 6-2 midway through the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes
gave the Nittany Lions a safety rather than risk punting from deep in
their own end zone. Risky? Certainly. As long as the opponent is not Penn
A few minutes later, Iowa passed up a chance at a 47-yard field
goal that would have forced the Nittany Lions to score a touchdown to
pull out a desperately needed win. But the No. 25 Hawkeyes, comfortable
with a two-point lead, punted instead.
"It was almost like they were saying they didn't think we
can score," Penn State center E.Z. Smith said after Iowa handed the
Nittany Lions a weird 6-4 loss yesterday in a Big Ten Conference game
at Beaver Stadium. "It's pretty bad when a team pretty much shoves
it in your face that they don't think you can score on them. We definitely
took that as a personal slap."
Penn State (2-5, 0-4) may have taken Iowa's tactics as an affront,
but the Nittany Lions did nothing about it as they stumbled through one
of the worst offensive performances in school history.
The loss - the team's 11th in the last 12 conference games and
fifth straight to Iowa (5-2, 3-1) - pushed Penn State to the brink of
its fourth losing season in five years. It also left coach Joe Paterno
groping for explanations as to how his offense, which has scored only
two touchdowns in four conference games, can sink to such a low point.
After all, the Nittany Lions were supposedly refreshed after a bye week.
And they had their best player on offense, Michael Robinson, back in the
lineup after he missed two games with a concussion.
"I don't know if we can play much poorer than we did today
offensively," said Paterno, resignation evident in his voice and
demeanor. "This is really a discouraging loss for me and for the
whole team. We've just got to sit back, look things over, and see what
we can do."
It was homecoming day, so the old graduates poured into town to
rehash memories. Then their team gave them a performance that prompted
boos on several occasions.
The Nittany Lions finished with six first downs, their fewest since
Paterno became the head coach in 1966. They had 147 total yards, the fourth
lowest during a Paterno era that more and more of the team's followers
would like to see come to an end. They had first downs at the Iowa 9,
10 and 24, yet failed to score. They had a mere three plays with gains
in double figures: 37, 12 and 11 yards. They were beaten by a team that
didn't score a touchdown for the first time since losing, 8-3, to Alabama
Quarterbacks Zack Mills and Robinson combined to complete nine
passes on 28 attempts. Each was intercepted twice. Robinson, who was 2
for 9, lost a fumble. Mills took a severe beating, mostly from defensive
end Matt Roth, and left the game midway through the third quarter with
dizziness. The crowd cheered as Mills staggered to the sideline.
"That's not right," fullback Paul Jefferson said of the
crowd getting on Mills. "But Zack has great character. He'll bounce
Asked if the game was a career low point, a dejected Mills said,
"It's safe to say that, especially from my standpoint. I'm very disappointed
in myself, really. I didn't get into any rhythm. I didn't make plays. I
"I put most of the loss on my shoulders. I turned the ball over.
I didn't make plays. I didn't do anything. I took a shot in the first half
that kind of got to me a little bit. I didn't feel right after that, but
that's no excuse."
Once again, Penn State wasted an outstanding effort by a young defense
that is evolving into one of the league's best. In Drew Tate, Iowa had a
torrid quarterback coming into the game. In his previous three starts, Tate
had completed 70 percent of his passes (75 for 107) for 941 yards and six
touchdowns, with three interceptions. The Nittany Lions sacked him three
times, intercepted him once, and held him to 126 yards passing. Penn State
allowed Iowa a mere 168 yards. "It sucks that we don't help those guys
out," Jefferson said.
In this strange game, two field goals trumped a pair of safeties.
Penn State had a chance to jump on the Hawkeyes early, taking a 2-0 lead
at the outset after a snap sailed over the head of Iowa punter David Bradley,
who deliberately kicked the ball out of the end zone rather than risk a
Penn State touchdown.
Moments later, Calvin Lowry returned a punt 33 yards to the Iowa
24-yard line, but the Nittany Lions set the tone for the game. On the ensuing
possession, they were called for two false-start penalties. Mills was sacked
by Roth. And Robbie Gould missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt. He later
missed a 25-yarder.
Kyle Schlicher gave the Hawkeyes a 3-2 lead with a 27-yard field
goal late in the first quarter. He kicked another 27-yarder to make the
score 6-2 at halftime, a lead that proved insurmountable for Penn State.
The closest Penn State came to scoring a touchdown was late in the
third quarter, when defensive end Lavon Chisley nearly intercepted a Tate
pass at the Hawkeyes' 25-yard line.
"The defense played a great game and created opportunities,"
Paterno said. "I've used the word frustrated too many times, but that's
what I am."