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NO. 3 IOWA 23, NO. 4 PENN STATE 20

Hawkeyes rally to beat Nittany Lions in top-5 showdown

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IOWA CITY – Iowa proved it belongs.

The third-ranked Hawkeye football team rallied from 14 points down Saturday to top fourth-ranked Penn State at Kinnick Stadium, 23-20.

Iowa overcame its largest deficit in nearly two seasons to remain unbeaten at the midpoint of its 12-game regular-season schedule.

Nico Ragaini scored the game-deciding touchdown with 6 minutes, 28 seconds remaining on a 43-yard pass from Spencer Petras and Matt Hankins sealed with the Hawkeyes’ fourth interception of the game.

And when it was over, fans spilled onto the field at sold-out Kinnick Stadium to celebrate.

The Hawkeyes had trailed since the opening quarter before Petras hit a wide-open Ragaini on the first play of a drive.

The junior quarterback rolled right and threw left to Ragaini, who was wide open on the left side of the field.

He caught the ball in stride just inside the 20-yard line and lunged into the end zone for the score that erased the 20-16 lead Penn State held.

The third field goal of the game by Caleb Shudak – a 35-yard connection with 8:08 left in the game – positioned Iowa to take the lead on Ragaini’s first touchdown reception of the season.

Less than 12 minutes into the game, Iowa found itself coping with its first double-digit deficit in 18 games.

The Nittany Lions used touchdown runs of two yards by Noah Cain and four yards by Sean Clifford to open a 14-3 lead with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.

Clifford’s carry, which completed a four-play, 39-yard drive that followed Petras’ second interception of the season, left the Hawkeyes in a double digit hole for the first time since trailing 21-6 during a 2019 game at Wisconsin.

The Nittany Lions’ scores came after Iowa capitalized on the first of three first-half interceptions collected by Hawkeye defenders.

Jestin Jacobs stepped in front of a Clifford pass intended for Jahan Dotson on Penn State’s first snap of the game, giving Iowa the football at the Nittany Lions’ 8-yard line.

Petras was sacked for a nine-yard loss on third down, forcing the Hawkeyes to settle for a 34-yard Caleb Shudak field goal.

Penn State was intercepted twice more in the half, the fourth time in six games Iowa has picked off at least three passes.

Jack Koerner collected a Clifford pass in the end zone with 5:33 to go in the opening quarter two plays before Jaquan Brisker picked off Petras.

Clifford wasn’t around to throw a third interception, exiting after taking a hit from Jack Campbell on a third-down incompletion just under two minutes into the second quarter.

As Clifford headed to the medical tent before eventually watching the second half in street clothes, the first of Jordan Stout’s two field goals added to the Nittany Lions’ lead.

Stout hit from 32 yards with 12:31 to go in the first half, giving Penn State a 17-3 advantage.

Iowa answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a stretched-out Charlie Jones trimming the Nittany Lions’ lead to the halftime margin of 17-10 on a 9-yard pass from Petras with 7:08 remaining in the second quarter.

Ta’Quan Roberson, Clifford’s replacement, was intercepted by Riley Moss with 1:31 to go in the half, but Iowa was unable to capitalize.

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter, with Stout hitting from 44 yards and Shudak answering from 48 to keep Iowa within a 20-13 score heading into the final quarter.

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