AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa’s eight-point lead looked safe with 2:18 left. The Hawkeyes certainly thought it was over with 45 seconds to go when they stopped Central Michigan on a potential game-tying two-point conversion.
But the Hawkeyes kept giving the Chippewas chances, and David Harman made them pay dearly on the last one.
Harman drilled a career-long 47-yard field goal with 3 seconds left as the Chippewas scored nine points in the final 45 seconds and stunned Iowa 32-31 on Saturday.
“Certainly not much fun for us out there,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I tell our team all the time. We get what we deserve, and that’s what we got.”
Still, Iowa appeared set to sneak out of Kinnick Stadium with a narrow victory after Weisman’s 12-yard TD run with 2:18 to go for a 31-23 lead. Then the Hawkeyes completely blew it.
Central Michigan (2-1) pulled within 31-29 on Ryan Radcliff’s 13-yard TD throw to Titus Davis. The Chippewas failed on the two-point conversion, but they recovered an onside kick and moved to Iowa’s 30-yard line in part because of a personal foul on the Hawkeyes (2-2).
Harman had the wind at his back on his wobbling winner, handing Iowa one of its most improbable defeats in 14 years under Ferentz.
“I had to get the clarification that it crossed the crossbar. But for the most part, I knew,” Harman said.
Radcliff threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns for Central Michigan, while Mark Weisman ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes will regret this ending for the rest of the year — and likely for years to come.
Iowa’s defense, which hadn’t allowed a second-half touchdown in two weeks, broke down at the worst possible time.
Central Michigan moved 64 yards in just 1:33, and Titus walked into the end zone after his defender fell down. But Iowa’s secondary forced Radcliff into a high throw on the conversion try, and the Hawkeyes were an onside kick recovery away from a 3-1 start.
The fun was just beginning for the upstart Chippewas.
Central Michigan was called for a delay-of-game penalty on its first onside kick. But all that did was provide another shot for the Chippewas, who recovered on their own 42-yard line.
“We just looked like we were frozen out there,” Ferentz said.
Iowa defensive lineman Joe Gaglione then got into it with a Central Michigan player and was called for a back-breaking 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Radcliff’s 9-yard run set up Harman’s winning kick, his fourth and certainly most critical kick of the day.
“I didn’t hit it perfect, caught it a little bit flat,” Harman said. “But for me, for that distance, I should get it there.”
Central Michigan led 23-14 at halftime. But Iowa’s defense stiffened, and a 5-yard TD run by Weisman and a crucial 46-yard field goal from Mike Meyer gave Iowa a 24-23 lead with 8:07 left.
The Chippewas were held scoreless for the first 29:15 of the second half.
But all anyone will remember are those final 45 stunning seconds.
“Tough times like this really show people’s character. I feel like I know a lot of guys on this team pretty well, and I have full faith that we’re going to respond,” said Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg.
Iowa would never have been in position to blow the game at the end if it hadn’t played so sloppy in the first half.
Vandenberg, who finished with 215 yards passing, opened the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley.
Of course, Iowa’s defense let the Chippewas return the favor. The Hawkeyes also allowed the opposition to rack up seven points on their first drive for the third week in a row. But Weisman blasted through a tackle on fourth-and-1 and sprinted 34 yards for a TD and a 14-10 lead late in the first quarter.
But the Chippewas moved ahead 17-14 on a blown coverage by the Hawkeyes secondary, as no one was within 10 yards of Davis as he caught a 29-yard TD pass with 11:51 left in the first half.
Iowa then needed key red-zone stops just to hold Central Michigan to field goals of 25 and 20 yards from Harman in the final two minutes of the first half.
Iowa was even worse at the end of the game, and the Chippewas took advantage in improbable fashion.
“One of the big keys to the game was (Radcliff). He played very well,” Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said.
The Hawkeyes, in desperate need of a win, next open Big Ten play against Minnesota, which has beaten the Hawkeyes twice in a row.
Iowa has now beaten one Mid-American Conference team by a point, 18-17 over Northern Illinois in Chicago in the opener, and lost to another by a point. Even in the watered-down Big Ten, that’s not a good omen.
“You just have to know that this loss can’t define our season,” Weisman said.