IOWA CITY, Iowa – A night that started with an incredible amount of emotion for Hawkeye fans ended with them celebrating the Iowa football team’s first 3-0 start since 2009.
And they had Marshall Koehn to thank for it.
The senior from Solon made a 57-yard field goal as time expired to lift Iowa to a 27-24 victory over Pittsburgh in a rare night game at Kinnick Stadium. The victory improved Iowa’s record to 3-0 for the sixth time in 17 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz and it came on a night in which former Hawkeye defensive back Brett Greenwood served as the honorary team captain.
"It’s pretty crazy," Koehn said of his game-winning field goal. "It still hasn’t sunk in for me yet. I was standing out there and I was like, ‘holy crap, this really happened.’
"I kind of pinched myself for sure."
Iowa’s game-winning drive started with junior cornerback Desmond King mishandling the kickoff. But once he secured the football, King returned it 27 yards, giving Iowa a first down at its own 30-yard line with less than one minute to play.
Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard scrambled for 12 yards to the Iowa 42 before connecting with tight end Henry Krieger-Coble for four yards to the 46. Beathard then rank for seven yards up the middle into Pittsburgh territory.
Faced with a third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 47, Beathard used his legs to burn the Panthers for a third time on the drive, gaining eight yards to the Pitt 39. He then called timeout with two seconds remaining, setting the stage for Koehn’s game-winning kick.
With the score knotted at 17, senior running back Jordan Canzeri scored on a 1-yard run with 6 minutes, 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. His touchdown, which capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive, was upheld after being reviewed.
Koehn then converted the extra-point kick, expanding Iowa’s lead to 24-17.
Pittsburgh had an answer, though, as it drove 75 yards on 13 plays for the game-tying touchdown, which came on an 8-yard reception by star receiver Tyler Boyd with 52 seconds left to play.
Iowa had the final answer as it drove far enough into Pittsburgh territory to give Koehn a chance to be a hero. His field goal was the second longest in school history behind Tim Douglas’ 58-yarder against Illinois in 1998.
"Night game, last-second field goal, I’ll remember this forever," said Iowa senior offensive guard Jordan Walsh.
Trailing 17-7 at halftime, Pittsburgh took the opening kick of the third quarter and drove to the Iowa 36-yard before settling for a 48-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt with 9:40 left in the quarter.
The Panthers then pulled even at 17-17 when Pat Amara returned Dillon Kidd’s blocked punt 28 yards for a touchdown with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The crowd of 63,636 gave Greenwood a rousing ovation as he led the Iowa team on to the field in its traditional swarm formation before the game. Tears continued to flow when Greenwood made his way to midfield for the coin toss, assisted by Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle and former Hawkeye linebacker Pat Angerer.
It was Greenwood’s first appearance at Kinnick Stadium since he suffered an anoxic brain injury on Sept. 9, 2011. The Pittsburgh players who were at midfield for the coin toss each paid their respects by shaking hands with Greenwood.
A moment of silence also was held for former Iowa defensive back Tyler Sash and former Hawkeye basketball star Roy Marble, both of whom died last week.
The game itself started slowly as Iowa scored the only points in the first quarter on a 43-yard field goal by Koehn with 8 minutes, 59 seconds left in the quarter.
Junior cornerback Desmond King helped to set up the field goal with his first of two interceptions in the opening quarter, this one coming near midfield. Pittsburgh’s next possession in the first quarter also ended with King intercepting a pass. However, this interception came in the Iowa end zone after Pittsburgh had driven from its own 25-yard line to the Iowa 5.
Beathard scored the game’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run with 14:12 left in the second quarter. Koehn made the extra-point kick, expanding Iowa’s lead to 10-0.
Beathard helped to put Iowa in scoring position by completing a 51-yard pass to senior receiver Tevaun Smith, who was tackled at the Pittsburgh 30-yard line.
However, Beathard also helped to put Pittsburgh in scoring position in the second quarter by throwing his first interception of the season that Panther free safety Terrish Webb returned 23 yards to the Iowa 15 with 10:14 left in the quarter.
Pittsburgh quarterback Nate Peterman then completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Orndoff with 10:11 left before halftime. Chris Blewitt converted the point-after kick, trimming Iowa’s lead to 10-7.
Both teams then had offensive possessions that resulted in punts. Pittsburgh only ran three plays before it was forced to punt with slightly less than seven minutes to play in the second quarter.
Iowa took possession at its own 26-yard line with 6:43 remaining before halftime. Beathard then engineered a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive that ended with Canzeri scoring on a 4-yard run with 44 seconds left before halftime.