Coverage: ABC Regional coverage
12:00 PM ET, October 25, 2003
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa came up with the big plays on special teams and defense a week too late.
The No. 16 Hawkeyes returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the third quarter and used a long fumble return to set up another score in handing Penn State its fourth straight loss, 26-14 Saturday.
Penn State had trouble stopping Russell and the Hawkeyes.
The loss by the Nittany Lions (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten) dropped coach Joe Paterno into second place for most wins ever in Division I-A. Florida State's Bobby Bowden beat Wake Forest 48-24 later Saturday for his 339th career win, breaking a tie with Paterno.
The Hawkeyes' normally stellar special teams units were much to blame for last week's 19-10 loss at Ohio State, which scored touchdowns on a blocked punt and a punt return.
"Last week turnovers would have helped us, special teams would have helped us," said linebacker Abdul Hodge, who returned a fumble 47 yards to set up Iowa's first touchdown.
"We came in to this game and wanted to correct it. We didn't know how our offense was going to do today, so we always feel like it's the defense and special teams that have to make some plays," Hodge said.
Paterno had more than the record books on his mind after the game.
Penn State was held to just 167 total yards and nine first downs, the kind of offensive production that helped prolong the team's longest losing skid since opening the 2001 season with four straight losses.
Penn State's only scores came late in the third quarter with the game already out of reach and early in the first quarter when Yaacov Yisrael stepped in front of Nathan Chandler's screen pass and ran 83 yards for a touchdown.
"We're competitive, but we're not making plays," said Paterno, who has now lost four in a row to Iowa. "It's got to come back to me. I've got to figure out the things we need to get better. But Iowa's a good football team."
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 2-2) were led on offense by Chandler and running back Fred Russell.
After throwing two first-quarter interceptions to Yisrael, Chandler settled down. He fired two TD passes in the second quarter and scored in the third quarter on a 1-yard dive, giving Iowa a 26-7 lead.
Chandler was 13-of-26 for 174 yards against a Nittany Lions defense that came into the game allowing an average of 121 passing yards per game, the stingiest in the Big Ten.
Russell, the Big Ten's second leading rusher, ran for 148 yards on 36 carries.
"It's always a good win to beat a coach like Joe Paterno," said Russell. "The offensive line gave me some good holes today."
The Nittany Lions played without leading receiver Tony Johnson, who was suspended by Paterno after being charged with drunken driving last week.
The Nittany Lions scored first on Yisrael's interception return, but it was the team's only points in the first half.
The Hawkeyes defense gave the offense plenty of time and opportunities to get on track, holding Penn State without a first down until midway through the second quarter and just 42 total yards in the first half.
Paterno was at a loss to explain his team's inability to capitalize on Iowa's turnovers or it's 2-for-15 performance on third-down conversions.
"I don't think you can win against good teams if you waste opportunities," Paterno said. "Our defense has been pretty good all year. They hung in there and kept us in the game in the first half."
Early in the second quarter, Hodge's fumble return set up Iowa's first touchdown, a 2-yard pass from Chandler to Matt Melloy. Nate Kaeding's extra point attempt was blocked by Scott Paxson, but it didn't take Iowa long to grab the lead.
On its next possession, Iowa marched 53 yards in eight plays, featuring two big third-down plays by Chandler. Early in the drive, Chandler was flushed out of the pocket and ran 20 yards for a first down. Three plays later, on third down, Chandler threw a 15-yard pass to Calvin Davis, setting up his 4-yard TD pass to Ramon Ochoa.
Iowa extended its lead midway through the third quarter when Chad Greenway broke through the heart of the Penn State punt protection to block Jeremy Kapinos' punt. Jermire Roberts picked up the loose ball and ran 32 yards for the touchdown, putting Iowa up 19-7.
Penn State added a touchdown in the third quarter when Zack Mills threw a 24-yard TD pass to freshman running back Austin Scott. Mills, who took over in the second quarter from Michael Robinson, was 14-for-25 for 138 yards.