With Pitt leading Iowa by a point, Panthers punter Dave Brytus delivered a swift kick to the Hawkeyes’ comeback chances by booting a 57-yard punt that bounced out at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Pitt defensive end Tony Tucker finished the job, forcing Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen to a fumble that was recovered by end Greg Romeus at the Iowa 27 with 50 seconds remaining to seal a 21-20 victory today before a crowd of 50,321 at Heinz Field.
It was Pitt’s first victory over a Big Ten opponent since a 12-0 victory over Penn State in 2000, and improved coach Dave Wannstedt’s record coming out of a bye week to 1-5.
Iowa (3-1) outgained Pitt (2-1), 361-259, in total yards. The Hawkeyes were led by tailback Shonn Greene’s game-high 147 rushing yards on 23 carries, and Jake Christensen completed 12 of 24 passes for 124 yards. Pitt was led by Bill Stull, who completed 11 of 25 passes for 129 yards, and McCoy’s 78 rushing yards on 18 carries.
The Panthers used McCoy’s 28-yard catch and Stull’s 3-yard gain on a fourth-and-inches sneak to set up McCoy’s 27-yard touchdown run to give Pitt a 21-17 lead with 13:37 remaining in the game.
Iowa had a 40-yard pass from Christensen to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to get into Pitt territory, but the Hawkeyes were held to a Trent Mussbrucker 39-yard field goal to cut their deficit to 21-20 with 10:58 left.
Pitt had possession at its own 41 with 2:44 remaining, but the Hawkeyes held the Panthers to 3 yards. Iowa, however, burned all three of its timeouts in the process and had none remaining after Brytus’ punt.
Iowa took a 3-0 lead at 10:25 of the first quarter on Mussbrucker’s 26-yard field goal, after the Hawkeyes stripped McCoy for a fumble at the Panthers’ 19.
Pitt responded with a 10-play, 73-yard drive highlighted by Stull’s 20-yard pass to receiver Derek Kinder and a fourth-down conversion pass to fullback Conredge Collins. Greg Cross made his debut, entering the game at quarterback on a third-and-6 at the Iowa 17.
The junior-college transfer took a shotgun snap, ran a sprint draw and eluded three Iowa defenders on his way to a 17-yard scoring run with six minutes, six seconds remaining in the first quarter. Conor Lee made the point-after kick to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead.
The Panthers opened the second quarter with a scoring drive, as LaRod Stephens-Howling converted a fourth-and-1 at the Iowa 30 by beating two defenders to the corner for a 13-yard gain. Iowa free safety Brett Greenwood drew a penalty for a late hit, giving the Panthers a first-and-goal at the 8.
Two plays later, quarterback Bill Stull ran 6 yards for his first career touchdown to give the Panthers a 14-3 lead with 12:34 remaining.
Iowa held Pitt to a three-and-out on its next possession, then answered with a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive highlighted by Shonn Greene’s 32-yard run to the Pitt 13 and capped by Greene’s 6-yard touchdown run that cut it to 14-10 with 3:24 left in the half.
Iowa used an eight-play, 73-yard scoring drive, capped by Christensen’s 2-yard run, to take a 17-14 lead. The Hawkeyes opened the drive with a 13-yard run by Greene and a 17-yard pass from Christensen to Andy Brodell, then added a 15-yard pass interference penalty by Pitt cornerback Aaron Berry.
Iowa converted a fourth-and-2 at Pitt’s 20 when Greene ran for a 3-yard gain, then added a 15-yarder before Christensen scored by slipping through the grasp of Pitt middle linebacker Scott McKillop at 5:33.