SYRACUSE, N.Y. –
Tired and triumphant, Kenny Iwebema just laid on top of Syracuse running back Paul Chiara.
The rest of his teammates bolted toward the big block “S” at midfield. Time to punch out and celebrate. Maybe mug for the ABC cameras.
Iwebema didn’t budge. He gave Chiara a big “good game, man” slap on the butt and rolled off.
Tired, yes, definitely. But triumphant, too.
With senior quarterback Drew Tate sitting out because of a lingering abdominal strain, the No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0) simply, pardon the pun, gutted one out over Syracuse (0-2), 20-13, in two overtimes before 37,199 fans at the Carrier Dome.
It wasn’t over until Iwebema bear hugged Chiara with fellow defensive end Bryan Mattison around Chiara’s ankles at Iowa’s 1. SU will agonize after coming this close to snapping its school-record 10-game losing streak.
The stop punctuated a goal-line stand that included seven plays, a pass interference penalty and buckets of guts or whatever you want to call the stuff that makes athletes perform when the emotional and physical tank is below empty.
“Nobody was out there feeling sorry for themselves,” Iwebema said. “Yeah, we made mistakes, but it didn’t matter. We just fought back. It was a good time seeing these guys fight.”
Fifth-year senior Jason Manson found out Saturday morning he would get his first start. It played out very much like a first start. He stumbled away from center on his first play and nearly fell before completing a 9-yard pass to wideout Herb Grigsby.
Manson threw four interceptions, including two on consecutive throws to begin the second half. He fumbled a center exchange. He even tackled fullback Champ Davis on a break-dance move of a handoff.
It was ugly, he admits. But he won.
“Things happen,” said Manson, who finished 16 of 32 for 202 yards, one touchdown and the four picks. “We overcame them. A lot of teams don’t overcome those, we did. I’m thankful for the win, thankful for the defense.”
Defense, Manson has to be buying you some premium deep dish this week.
The Hawkeyes gave up more yards (283) than they probably wanted to, definitely way more pass interference penalties (four) than they wanted to and way more third downs (9 for 20) than they were comfortable with, but they held the Orange on the goal line with everything on the line.
“I don’t even know where I was on that last play,” said defensive tackle Mitch King, who collected two sacks. “I kind of blank out out there sometimes. I just run around.”
On first-and-goal from the 2, SU fullback Tony Fiammetta made it to the goal line. But his helmet and not the ball broke the plane.
“I saw the helmet,” linebacker Mike Klinkenborg said. “It’s the ball that counts.”
The Orange had six running plays from the 2 or closer and couldn’t punch through.
Going into that last carry, Chiara had 1 yard on four tries. Curtis Brinkley had 68 yards on 15 carries. Wideout Tim Lane had seven catches for 59 yards.
“If we get it done, it’s a great decision,” SU Coach Greg Robinson said.
“If we don’t, then you question it.”
Tate had made 25 straight starts, posting an 18-7 record. Prepare for daily updates and minute-to-minute speculation on the most famous abdominal strain since the McCaughey septuplets.
Tate dressed but didn’t throw a pass in warm-ups. There was never any discussion of his playing, even in the face of Manson’s struggles.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz pronounced Tate “day-to-day.” He acknowledged Tate has been dealing with the injury throughout fall camp. The plan is to rest Tate until Tuesday, then evaluate his status for this week’s game against Iowa State.
“He wanted to go, but it was an adult decision more than anything else,” Ferentz said. “My responsibility is to look out for what’s best for everybody. I expected him
to want to go, but I don’t think it’s the smartest thing to do right now.”
Syracuse smelled blood with a newbie at quarterback. Robinson, a former NFL defensive coordinator, stuffed the line of scrimmage with nine defenders, basically daring Iowa to throw it. The Orange shut down the run until junior running back Damian Sims ignited Iowa’s lone
TD drive during regulation.
He rushed five times for 28 yards, including a 15-yarder that was a tackle away from going the distance. He also caught a screen pass for 11 yards.
Finally with a smidge of a running game, the play-action pass opened up and produced two big plays, an 18-yard completion to Andy Brodell to SU’s 2 and the 2-yard TD pass to tight end Scott Chandler, who was Manson’s best friend with 6 catches for 65 yards.
In the end, Manson held up.
“Jason showed his determination today,” Chandler said. “The ball didn’t always bounce his way, but he kept on going out there. A win’s a win, and he’s 1-0 as a
The Chandler TD tied the score, 7-7, after SU took its first drive 78 yards and scored on quarterback Perry Patterson’s 3-yard pass to Taj Smith. SU was the worst third-down team in the nation last year. It converted three-of-three on its first drive.
Iowa kicker Kyle Schlicher gave the Hawkeyes a 10-7 lead on a 24-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
This was a game of fingernails. During the field goal drive, Manson hit wideout Herb Grigsby on a slant in the middle of the field. Nine times out of 10, this is a TD. But safety Joe Fields reached out and got his hand on Grigsby’s collar and pulled him down at the SU 14
after a 50-yard gain.
Another fingernail, or toenail, was Schlicher’s miss from 42 yards with 8:51 left in the game. Schlicher sat out last week with a leg strain. He just pulled this one a few feet to the left.
It left the door open just enough for SU.
The Orange took over at its 47 with 28 seconds left. Patterson completed a 13-yard pass to Tim Lane, who caught six passes for 48 yards, for a first down at Iowa’s 39 with 17 seconds left.
Patterson spiked it, and then sophomore Patrick Shadle drilled a 41-yarder with six seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 10-10.
“Every game isn’t going to be all peaches and cream,” Manson said.
“We’re not going to blow everybody out every game. We came through. We overcame it.”
Tired and triumphant.