Powell's highlight-reel catch sparks Hawkeye offense

Andrew Logue
Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Damond Powell (22) returns a kick-off against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second quarter at Heinz Field.

PITTSBURGH - Damond Powell was the cause of angst and exaltation Saturday in Iowa's 24-20 win against Pittsburgh.

The senior receiver spoiled the Hawkeyes' opening drive when he bobbled a deep pass from quarterback Jake Rudock, leading to an interception. Then, he redeemed himself with a one-handed grab for glory in the third quarter.

"It's all about just sticking with it," Powell said. "In this game, you're going to have a lot of ups and downs, but you've got to stay focused."

The Hawkeyes were looking to strike early when Powell beat two defenders and Rudock lofted the ball deep into Panthers territory.

For a brief moment, it appeared Powell made the catch. Instead, Panthers cornerback Lafayette Pitts ended up with the ball.

"I initially caught the ball," Powell said, "but when I tried to pull it in, it slipped out and went straight to the defender.

"It was a tough one for me, but I got over it."

With the Hawkeyes grasping for anything that might ignite their offense, backup quarterback C.J. Beathard fired another pass in Powell's direction.

This time, Powell snagged it for a 62-yard gain.

"I just beat my man," he said. "I was determined to catch the ball, no matter if it was one hand or two hands.

"I just needed to make a play for my team, and create a spark for my team."

Through it all, Powell's teammates were encouraging.

"They stuck with me and told me I'd have another opportunity to make a play," Powell said. "And that's what happened."