Nothing moral about loss


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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Iowa Hawkeyes aren’t looking for anyone to feel sorry for them.

Coming into Ohio Stadium as a double-digit underdog, Iowa bounced back from a two-touchdown deficit in the game’s final 11:11 and took Ohio State to overtime before a 39-yard field goal by Devin Barclay lifted the Buckeyes to a 27-24 victory, as well as the Big Ten’s spot in the 2010 Rose Bowl.

The loss dropped Iowa to 9-2 overall, 5-2 in the Big Ten with one game remaining. And for as much resiliency as the Hawkeyes would yet again display in the second half, the ending is not what anyone in Black and Gold hoped for.

Take junior defensive end Adrian Clayborn, for example. The St. Louis native played as good a game as one could ask a defensive lineman to play, finishing with 12 tackles and a sack. Of those dozen tackles, eight were solo and three came behind the line of scrimmage.

But for all the ability Clayborn displayed, he was dejected. The thought of “a moral victory” never entered his mind after the game.

“There’s no moral victories as far as I’m thinking,” he said. “We played our hardest, and we lost.”

It’s easy to see why someone on the outside might consider this “a moral victory” for the Hawkeyes.

Playing in front of 105,455 rabid fans, redshirt freshman James Vandenberg made his first career start as Iowa’s quarterback. He proceeded to complete 20-of-33 pass attempts for 233 yards.

“We’ve had the luxury of being around him for 15 months, or something like that, and he has been impressive with everything he has dealt with,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think everybody involved with our team — not just the coaches, but all the players — thought that he’d do a good job.”

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And then there was the fourth-quarter rally. Just before the comeback seemed to come to fruition, Vandenberg threw his second interception on the day to Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan, and on the following play, Buckeye running back Brandon Saine went 49 yards for a touchdown to put Ohio State up 24-10.

It looked like a play that would do the Hawkeyes in. Then came something no Iowa fan had witnessed in more than six years.

On the ensuing kickoff, junior wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos caught the ball on his own 1-yard line and bobbled it. Once he maintained possession, he scampered 99 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown that gave Iowa new life.

The defense then came out motivated. Even after seeing a Daniel Murray kickoff sail out of bounds with a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on, the Hawks kept the Buckeyes off the scoreboard.

“We knew we had to stick with it, and we knew we couldn’t give them any more basically on defense,” senior linebacker A.J. Edds said. “It was a matter of just kind of bearing down and finding a way to get off the field.”

When the offense returned to the field, it took eight plays for Vandenberg to find sophomore wide receiver Marvin McNutt for his second touchdown of the game. With 2:42 remaining, the game was tied at 24 apiece.

But it wouldn’t be enough to get past Ohio State and push Iowa into the Rose Bowl.

And all the Hawkeyes can worry about now is looking forward to Minnesota this weekend with a chance to reach 10 wins for the fourth time in the Ferentz era.

“We’ve lost the past two weeks, but we got to come out and prepare like we do every week for Minnesota and not let Ohio State beat us twice,” Clayborn said.

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