Evan Schwan was at the bottom of the pile.
The Penn State defensive end didn’t see linebacker Jason Cabinda meet Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard in the air moments after the snap, so he didn’t know what was going on during the Hawkeyes’ attempt to convert on fourth-and-1 on their first drive.
Then, he heard the Beaver Stadium crowd.
“I got up and saw that they didn’t get it, so I was really excited about that,” Schwan said.
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The Penn State defense continued to give the crowd plenty to be excited about in the No. 12 Nittany Lions’ 41-14 win over Iowa on Saturday night. Penn State held Iowa to 30 yards rushing on 26 carries — a 1.2 average. The Nittany Lions defense also got off the field as Iowa went 2 for 10 on third-down conversions and 1 for 2 on fourth downs.
On a night when the Penn State offense piled up 599 yards, the defense turned in an impressive performance of its own.
Penn State came into the game looking to establish a new line of scrimmage against a team averaging 167.9 yards on the ground.
“They want to run the ball to get their offense going so that definitely put a dent in their game plan,” defensive tackle Kevin Givens said.
The Nittany Lions shut down the running game in short-yardage situations from the start.
On its first possession, Iowa drove to Penn State’s 34-yard line, where it faced a fourth-and-1. The Hawkeyes, trailing 7-0, lined up to try to keep the drive alive, as Beathard took the snap and attempted to leap over his line for the first down.
Cabinda was there to knock him back, forcing him to run left before being brought down for a 1-yard loss.
“I probably got to see it on tape to really take it in, but it was awesome,” Cabinda said. “I figured they were going to go sneak and he jumped over and I was able to meet him on the other side.”
The Nittany Lions met the Hawkeyes on crucial plays on the next two possessions.
Iowa’s second drive stalled when the Hawkeyes couldn’t convert on third-and-2.
Cabinda made the play again.
With a fullback leading the way, Iowa’s Akrum Wadley was on his way to a first down until Cabinda stopped his momentum to force fourth-and-1 at the 50 and a punt.
Facing third-and-1 on Iowa’s third drive, running back LeShun Daniels was swallowed up at the line of scrimmage.
Iowa couldn’t sustain drives against the Nittany Lion defense.
“I think the past few games, teams have kind of been driving on us and we haven’t been getting those third-down stops,” Cabinda said. “Today we were really getting those stops and getting the fourth-down stops as well so it was huge. It just shows that we’re improving and progressing every week.”
Iowa managed just 34 yards rushing on 14 carries in the first half as the Nittany Lions built a 24-7 lead.
The defense picked up where it left off in the second half.
Schwan overpowered Iowa offensive lineman Ike Boettger to get to Beathard for a sack at the start of the third quarter.
The crowd roared before the third-down play and again after the sack, which brought up fourth down and forced an Iowa punt.
The Hawkeyes went three-and-out on the next drive.
This time, Givens blew through the line for a sack on second down, adding another highlight for the defensive line.
“The D-line in general today was just living in the backfield,” Cabinda said.
That was the Nittany Lions’ plan going into the game.
They came out and executed to contribute to the blowout win.
“Simple as that,” Cabinda said. “Our coaches are lining up the things that we need to do each week and the guys are getting in the film room and studying and they’re working hard, playing their butts off during practice and then it’s just translating to games.”