Hawkeyes' halftime mood? 'Wasn't a whole lot of talking'
PITTSBURGH - A switch at quarterback did more than revive Iowa's lackluster offense.
It saved the defense.
Everyone will remember C.J. Beathard coming off the bench Saturday and leading the Hawkeyes to a 24-20 come-from-behind victory over Pittsburgh.
What some may forget is how the Panthers completely owned the first half, especially the second quarter.
"We were getting worked pretty good in that first half," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I can't remember getting worked like that.
"Pretty much whatever they wanted to do, they did."
Pittsburgh not only built a 17-7 lead, it held a 19:14-to-10:46 edge in time of possession and outgained the Hawkeyes 262 yards to 128.
The Panthers highlighted their dominance with an 18-play, 75-yard drive that chewed 9:42 off the clock, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by James Conner.
"There wasn't a whole lot of talking," senior safety John Lowdermilk said of the halftime mood. "We didn't make a lot of adjustments.
"We just had to come out and be more physical, because we were getting beat up."
Things nearly got worse, before getting better.
Pittsburgh opened the third quarter by driving to Iowa's 36-yard line, but had to punt.
"We kept fighting, and we stayed together," safety Jordan Lomax said. "We knew if we could get the ball back in the offense's hands, they would perform and produce."
Beathard replaced starting quarterback Jake Rudock, and led the Hawkeyes on a nifty 94-yard touchdown drive. Suddenly, Iowa was pushing back.
"Confidence might have been a little down," Lowdermilk said. "In the second half, we came out extremely aggressive and physical."
The Panthers managed just seven first downs in the final 30 minutes and were held to three points, coming on a third-quarter field goal.
Beathard was a catalyst in the momentum shift, but the defense contributed.
The front seven did a better job of shedding blockers. Lowdermilk anchored the secondary with nine tackles before halftime, but made just two after the break.
It also helped to have Lomax on the field. He was forced to sit out the first and second quarter after being called for a second-half targeting penalty a week earlier against Iowa State.
"I was really anxious to get back out there," Lomax said. "I had to make the best out of the situation.
"I was paying attention to Pitt's offense, trying to see what they were running and what big plays hurt us."
When Pittsburgh was driving late in the fourth quarter, with a chance to retake the lead, cornerback Greg Mabin broke up third- and fourth-down passes to Tyler Boyd.
Anthony Gair, Lomax's backup who started the first half, secured the game-clinching interception as time expired.
"All we wanted to do in the second half was come out and do exactly what we did in the first half," Boyd said. "It just didn't go our way."