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Iowa rallies past Pitt in second half 24-20

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Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard rallied Iowa in the second half and the Hawkeyes came back from 10 points down to beat Pitt 24-20 at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon.

PITTSBURGH – Iowa backup quarterback CJ Beathard replaced starter Jake Rudock in the second half and led the Hawkeyes to three consecutive scores in the second half as Iowa rallied past Pitt for a 24-20 win at Heinz Field.

Pitt running back James Conner topped the 150-yard mark with 155 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore wide receiver Tyler Boyd had 153 yards on 10 catches for the Panthers (3-1).

The Hawkeyes (3-1) trailed 17-7 at the half, but outscored Pitt 17-3 in the second half. Iowa running back Mark Weisman scored on a one-yard run with less than seven minutes remaining to put the Hawkeyes ahead 24-20. Iowa converted two fourth downs and one third down on the game-winning drive.

"We scored only three points in the second half and didn't find a way to get it done," said Pitt head coach Paul Chryst. "A game like that just comes down to a few plays. Thay had them and we didn't."

The first half played out exactly the way the Panthers envisioned, as Iowa couldn't slow Conner and Boyd caught 6 passes for 71 yards. Pitt's offensive line got the best of Iowa's vaunted defensive front as the Panthers outgained Iowa 262 yards to 128. Pitt also dominated time of possession, 19:14 to 10:46. The Panthers got rushing touchdowns from freshman Chris James and Conner, and kicker Chris Blewitt added a late 33-yard field goal to take a 17-7 lead into the half. Conner had 100 rushing yards at the half.

"We were getting worked that first half and our staff had to make adjustments," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. "Our players were a lot more aggressive in the second half and just playing better football."

The second half, however, belonged to Iowa. Beathard took over for the Hawkeyes in the third quarter and completed 7 of 8 passes for 98 yards. He led three straight scoring drives as Iowa went from 10-points down to a 4-point lead.

"He came in and did a great job," said Ferentz. "He made some really big plays for us today."

The Iowa defense, overpowered in the first half, seemed stronger than Pitt in the second and limited the Panthers offense to 53 rushing yards on 16 carries over the final 30 minutes.

"They got off some blocks," said Chryst of Iowa's improved defensive play in the second half. "We've got to look at the film and learn from it and everyone has to own their part of it. They have a heck of a defense. I have a ton of respect for coach Ferentz and what they do."

Pitt hosts Akron next Saturday at Heinz Field in their final non-conference game of the season.

Pitt James Conner


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