Iowa's Murray ready in the clutch

November, 8, 2008
11/08/08
9:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The plan going in called for Daniel Murray to handle any field goal snapped from the 25-yard line or beyond.

So when Iowa converted a third-down pass and reached Penn State's 15-yard line with less than a minute remaining in Saturday's game, Murray figured he would be nudged out of the spotlight. After all, that's where he's been for the last six weeks, ever since he missed a 35-yarder in a 21-20 loss at Pitt, putting him at 1-for-3 on the season.

 
  Jerry Lai/US Presswire
  Iowa Hawkeyes kicker Daniel Murray (1) makes the game winning field goal during the fourth quarter against the Penn State.

Surely Iowa would go with freshman Trent Mossbrucker, who entered Saturday's game having made 13 of 15 field-goal attempts, all from inside 40 yards. But with about 20 seconds left, the coaches came over to Murray and told him this was his moment.

"You go with your gut," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "But the important thing is Danny's ready. He was ready to jump in there and get the job done."

But how ready could he be?

Murray hadn't attempted a field goal in Big Ten play. Now he was about to go for the game-winner against No. 3 Penn State, with a "howling" wind blowing around Kinnick Stadium.

"I was nervous until I got on the field," Murray said. "Once I got on the field, it was kind of like, 'No turning back now.' ... I knew I could do it, from anytime, anywhere. But the ability for them to put the confidence in me, I could only thank them so much for it."

The kick sailed through from 31 yards out, giving Iowa a 24-23 win, its first against a top 5 team since 1990, when the Hawkeyes knocked off No. 5 Illinois.

It made it only sweeter that the guy who made the biggest kick in recent team history is a townie, having grown up in Iowa City and attending Regina High School. A star soccer player who chose to walk on to the football team, Murray was named to the freshman All-Big Ten team after hitting 7 of 10 attempts last year.

But a slow start and an injury, combined with Mossbrucker's emergence, put Murray backstage after the Pitt game. He continued to handle kickoff duties and waited for his shot.

"Just being an Iowa City kid, it only makes it a little bit better," he said. "You've grown up watching it all, and you understand the history and the tradition behind the whole program."

Now he has his own chapter.

"I always dreamed about it," he said. "But you can only dream until it actually comes true."

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