IOWA CITY, Iowa - In football, it's often better to be lucky than to be good. Iowa isn't good — and it certainly isn't lucky either.
Paul Griggs drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired and Purdue stunned Iowa 27-24 Saturday, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Robert Marve threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers (4-6, 1-5 Big Ten), who won for the first time in Iowa City in 20 years.
Iowa has now played in six games decided by three points or less — more than any other team in the country — and has lost four of them. Two of those defeats have come at home in the final moments on a long field goal that somehow sailed through.
Central Michigan beat Iowa on a 47-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in September — and Purdue beat the luckless Hawkeyes on their longest boot of the season.
"Clearly we were outcoached and outplayed, particularly in the first half. That's disappointing," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Purdue led 24-14 before Iowa (4-6, 2-4) rallied to tie the game with 3:32 left. But the Boilermakers stuffed the Hawkeyes on fourth down with 16 seconds left and drove 37 yards to set up the game-winning kick by Griggs.
James Vandenberg had 190 yards passing and a TD for Iowa, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2007.
Iowa got the ball back with 1:08 left in a tie game and moved 52 yards in 52 seconds. But the Hawkeyes went for it on fourth-down-and-3 — with a strong headwind leaving a field goal as a long shot — and got just 1 yard on a Vandenberg pass.
"We were out there pretty good, so I felt like that was a better percentage," Ferentz said about going for it on fourth down. "The wind was in our face."
Purdue, which lost 20-17 against Notre Dame and 29-22 in overtime at Ohio State, rallied behind Marve. He ran for 17 yards, found Antavian Edison for 20 more and set up Griggs' game-winner.
"We've been through that situation before. We tried to keep our head about us and just try to do our job," Iowa lineman Dominic Alvis said. "Unfortunately, we didn't. It's disheartening."
The Hawkeyes ran for just 74 yards in 31 tries against the Big Ten's worst rushing defense entering play and were outgained 490 yards to 264.
But three Purdue fumbles kept them in the game until the end.
Iowa pulled within 17-14 on Vandenberg's 5-yard pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz late in the third quarter. It was just Vandenberg's fifth TD toss of the season, and it helped brighten the mood of a frustrated home crowd.
The good cheer was short-lived.
Purdue's Ralph Bolden somehow stayed in bounds with nearly the entire Iowa defense flushing him to the sideline, tip-toeing 56 yards to set up Marve's 10-yard touchdown pass to Gary Bush to put the Boilermakers ahead 24-14.
But Iowa caught a huge break when Marve's fumble bounced into the arms of cornerback Micah Hyde, who returned it 9 yards to make it 24-21 Purdue heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hawkeyes tied it up at 24-all on a 24-yard field goal by Mike Meyer with 3:32 left.
Purdue opened the scoring with a 3-yard TD run by Akeem Shavers. The Boilermakers then fumbled the ball to Iowa on back-to-back plays — and Damon Bullock's 1-yard TD run tied the game at 7-7.
The Boilermakers quickly answered those mistakes with an 11-play scoring drive facilitated in part by terrible tackling on the part of the Hawkeyes — something they fought through all afternoon.
It took five minutes and ended with a 9-yard touchdown grab by Gabe Holmes that put Purdue ahead 14-7 with 4:43 left before halftime.
"The plays were out there to make, and we just didn't make them," Iowa wide receiver Jordan Cotton said.
The Boilermakers had a halftime lead for the first time since losing to Ohio State on Oct. 20 They did about all they could to give it back, but Marve and Griggs were clutch in the final 16 seconds.
Purdue can now become bowl eligible with wins over Illinois and Indiana. Iowa must beat Michigan and Nebraska to do the same.
"I mean, it's really simple; if you want to compete and if you want to be part of this, then you come back (Sunday) really concerned about and interested in what can we do to improve, and that's each and every one of us, coaches, players," Ferentz said.