Halftime reactions: Fierce run game, stout defense put Iowa up 24-7

The Hawkeyes looked sharp in the first two quarters of action against the Nittany Lions.


Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Chauncey Golston (57) tackles Penn State Nittany Lions running back Devyn Ford (28) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Read and Chris Werner

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Iowa leads Penn State 24-7 at halftime and is two quarters of good football away from improving to 3-2 on the season.

The Hawkeyes ran for three touchdowns in the first two quarters, including one coming in the final seconds of the first half.

DI Pregame Editor Robert Read and Football Reporter Chris Werner break down the first half of action.

Hawkeye defense settles in after early Nittany Lion scoring drive

On its second drive of the game, Penn State went 75 yards in 14 plays and scored a touchdown. Quarterback Levis accounted for 44 rushing yards on seven carries on that drive, and running back Keyvone Lee finished the drive off with a rushing touchdown.

The Iowa defense stepped up after that.

Following the score Penn State punted once, fumbled once, and turned it over on downs twice. The second time, Penn State went for it on fourth and short, and Iowa safety Jack Koerner blew up the running play in the backfield. After that questionable call from Penn State head coach James Franklin, Iowa took over and tacked on another score with only seconds remaining in the first half.

Linebacker Nick Niemann already has 13 tackles for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes have already forced one turnover to go along with the two turnovers on downs, and have tallied six tackles for loss and a sack. Levis beat the Hawkeyes running on the Nittany Lions’ scoring drive. But other than that, the Iowa defense has been in control.

– Robert Read

Rushing game leads Iowa offense

In the first half, Iowa ran out in front of Penn State. All three of the Hawkeyes’ first-half touchdowns came on the ground.

Hawkeye running backs Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent both found the end zone in the first 30 minutes of action.

Goodson found paydirt first with 14:35 left in the second quarter on a 10-yard scamper and gave Iowa a 10-7 lead.

Then, the Hawkeyes’ made their way down to the 13-yard line and quarterback Spencer Petras completed a 12-yard pass to tight end Sam Laporta down to the one-yard line. On the very next play, Sargent punched it in.

And Sargent wasn’t done.

On the last Hawkeye possession of the half, he tacked on another score.

After Iowa stopped Penn State on fourth down from near midfield, the Hawkeyes got the ball with 59 seconds left and all three timeouts at their disposal.

Behind an eight-yard rush from Goodson and a 4-of-5 drive for Petras through the air, Sargent gave the Hawkeyes a 24-7 lead with a one-yard score with only 11 seconds left in the half.

If Iowa can keep moving the ball on the ground and finish drives in the end zone, it should have a three-game winning streak intact by the end of the day.

– Chris Werner

Sharp first half by Spencer Petras

Petras has been shaky in his first four starts of his Iowa career. But the redshirt sophomore played maybe the best half of his Hawkeye career against Penn State.

Petras completed 12-of-18 passes for 140 yards in the first two quarters of the game. The starting signal caller looked calmer in the pocket and found open targets underneath for easy completions. Petras completed four straight passes in a two-minute drill on the last drive of the second half to set up Sargent’s second touchdown.

Turnovers have been killers for Petras through the first half of the season, but other than a dropped interception by Penn State early in the game, he’s been careful with the ball against the Nittany Lions.

With how dominant Iowa’s running game is, Iowa doesn’t need big plays out of Petras. The Hawkeyes need him to manage the game, which he has done so far against the Nittany Lions.

– Robert Read

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