Brown: Koehn's kick for the ages caps night to remember
IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Kirk Ferentz didn't even crack a smile when Marshall Koehn's 57-yard field goal on the final play of the game turned Kinnick Stadium into a black-and-gold explosion of emotion.
Did he make that? Really? Seriously?
Yes, he did.
The Iowa football coach took off his headset and headed across the field to shake hands with Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi after the Hawkeyes' improbable 27-24 victory Saturday.
Ferentz is a stoic man. But maybe he was stunned. The second-longest field goal in school history gave his team a 3-0 record for the first time since 2009.
"I've had my ups and downs," Koehn said. "I'm glad I could help us out (Saturday)."
Ups and downs. That was this game in a nutshell, a rollercoaster ride that covered every range of emotion.
Things looked good for the Hawkeyes at some stages, equally bad in others. Never more than in the second-to-last series of the game.
That Kinnick crowd, nattily attired in black and gold, went crazy when defensive end Nate Meier sacked Pittsburgh quarterback Nate Peterman for a 6-yard loss with 90 seconds to play.
Now fourth-and-15 from the Iowa 27, the Hawkeye defense was one play from securing a 24-17 victory.
That same crowd was silent moments later, when Peterman found J.P. Holtz for 18 yards and a first down.
Equally silent when Peterman found Tyler Boyd for a game-tying touchdown with 52 seconds on the co20ck.
Koehn's kick tied the Kinnick Stadium record and was one yard shy of the school record. Tim Douglas kicked a 58-yarder in 1998 against Illinois, Hayden Fry's last season as Iowa coach.
There have been more dramatic kicks in Kinnick Stadium, including Daniel Murray's that beat No. 3 Penn State in 2008 and Rob Houghtlin's boot that gave No. 1 Iowa a 12-10 victory over No. 2 Michigan in 1985.
Time will tell what this victory means to this football team. A victory that seemed destined to last more than 60 minutes.
"It was an emotional win, and an important win for our team," Ferentz said.
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, who had rallied Iowa from a 17-7 deficit at Pittsburgh halftime deficit to win 24-20 last season, earned his stripes in this one.
Beathard got hit more times by the Panthers' defense than he had in the season's first two games combined. The blitzes were effective, and a challenge the Iowa quarterback limped through.
"All night long, he played a tremendous football game," Ferentz said.
Beathard completed 27 of his 40 passes — both career highs — for 258 yards.
He also threw his first interception of the season, on his 65th pass that led Pittsburgh's only touchdown of the first half.
The Panthers tied the game at 17-all in the third quarter on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
But Beathard took his team 80 yards in 11 plays for a go-ahead touchdown with 6:04 remaining. Kinnick was electric.
Pittsburgh pulled the plug with its game-tying touchdown.
Koehn changed all that, with a boot that will be remembered for a long time around here.
It was the climax to an emotional day that started with former Hawkeye Brett Greenwood leading the team into the field at the start of the game. A moment that the emotional Ferentz touched on afterward, saying that is what football — and life — is all about.
"This was icing on the cake," Ferentz said.
A cake that has three candles on it right now. And room for many more.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.