Oct. 31, 2009

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -Ricky Stanzi overcame a career-high five interceptions to throw two long touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, helping No. 7 Iowa rally for a 42-24 victory over Indiana on Saturday.

Brandon Wegher had a career-high 118 yards rushing and three TDs for the Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten), who scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to stun the shell-shocked Hoosiers.

Iowa is off to the best start in school history, thanks to four wins by three points or less. And after needing two blocked field goals to beat FCS school Northern Iowa in its opener, the Hawks control their own destiny in the Big Ten - with a chance to play for the BCS title.

It almost came undone on a windy day in Iowa City, where Stanzi threw four picks in the third quarter alone and Indiana (4-5, 1-4) took a 24-14 lead into the fourth.

Stanzi responded by hitting Marvin McNutt for a 92-yard touchdown pass and, moments later, connecting with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos from 66 yards to put Iowa ahead 28-24 with 11:38 left.

Wegher made it 35-24 on a 6-yard TD run and added a 27-yard score with 1:12 remaining.

Ben Chappell had 227 yards passing and two touchdowns to lead Indiana, which blew a 25-point lead in a loss at Northwestern last week.

Stanzi's mental toughness has long been defended by coach Kirk Ferentz, and he showed why at the start of the fourth quarter. He hit McNutt on a play-action rollout for what turned out to be the fourth-longest pass play in Iowa history. Johnson-Koulianos did most of the work on the other long touchdown, weaving his way through the Indiana secondary.

Until then, a season full of razor-thin victories and miracle finishes looked as though it would collapse on the Hawkeyes.

Stanzi opened the second half throwing interceptions on back-to-back possessions, and the Hoosiers moved to Iowa's 2-yard line already leading 21-7.

That's when Iowa's defense made one more spectacular play.

Chappell was hit from behind as he dropped back to pass, and Tyler Sash gathered the loose ball in the air before racing 86 yards for a touchdown that brought Iowa within 21-14 and woke up a stunned crowd at Kinnick Stadium.

The Hoosiers appeared to have answered on a TD grab by Terrance Turner in the corner of the end zone, but the call was overturned by video and Nick Freeland missed a 28-yard field goal.

Stanzi gave momentum right back to Indiana with another interception, and Freeland's 37-yard kick made it 24-14. Stanzi capped the worst quarter of his life with a floater deep in Indiana territory that was picked off by Collin Taylor.

The game was strange right from the start.

Iowa deferred on the opening kickoff, a rarity under Ferentz, and the Hoosiers marched 69 yards into the wind for a 7-0 lead on Darius Willis's 4-yard run.

Ryan Donahue - one of the most reliable punters in the nation - shanked an 8-yarder into the stands midway through the second quarter, giving the Hoosiers the ball at the Hawkeyes 35. Five plays later, Chappell found Mitchell Evans for a 16-yard TD pass that made it 14-0.

The Hawkeyes answered on Wegher's 4-yard TD run with 2:39 left in the first half, but after holding Indiana, Amari Spievey inexplicably picked up a wobbly punt and fumbled it away deep in his own territory. Chappell found Damarlo Belcher for a 9-yard TD with 9 seconds left.

It was a brutal end to the first half for Iowa, and a brutal end to the game for Indiana.

As a stunned and delighted crowd of Iowa fans filled out of Kinnick Stadium, they were seranded - quite fittingly - by Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer."