IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Late in a season marred by injuries, it was only fitting that two third-stringers would lead Iowa to its first overtime win at Kinnick Stadium.
Freshman Jevon Pugh scored the go-ahead touchdown in double overtime and Drew Gardner, a seldom-used cornerback, stopped Michigan State's Devin Thomas on the ensuing fourth down to help Iowa beat the Spartans 34-27 on Saturday.
Albert Young had 179 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Iowa (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten), which had rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit. Michigan State tied the game at 20 on a 29-yard field goal by Brett Swenson with four seconds left in regulation.
"We didn't put up much of a fight in the first half. It was a pretty thorough beating that we were taking," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Just very happy, but more so proud of the way our guys came back and played the second 30 and the overtimes."
Iowa was outgained 468-283, and quarterback Jake Christensen passed for just 53 yards. But the Hawkeyes, led by Young, found their rhythm when it mattered.
Young had 143 yards after halftime, including 99 yards in the third quarter.
"He just played his butt off. He put us on his back today," Christensen said of Young. "He's our leader."
Young ran six yards to put Iowa at the 1 in the second overtime, but had to leave the game with a stinger in his shoulder. With backup Damian Sims out with a foot injury, Pugh, a freshman, burst through a massive hole to give the Hawkeyes a 34-27 lead.
The Spartans (5-4, 1-4) reached the Iowa 9 on their second-overtime possession, but quarterback Brian Hoyer was sacked on third down for a 7-yard loss. On fourth down, Hoyer found Thomas in the flat but he was stopped by Gardner well short of the first down.
Gardner was in for Bradley Fletcher. He was playing in place of Adam Shada, who hurt his ankle earlier in the game.
"We got sacked, they pressured the quarterback and they made plays at the end to win the game," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "Their players just hung around, and if you keep hanging around, keep fighting, good things will happen."
Michigan State's Javon Ringer rumbled for 18 yards in the first overtime to put the Spartans at the 3, and Jehuu Caulcrick's TD run gave them a 27-20 lead. Christensen then found Paul Chaney Jr., a freshman who has also been pressed into early action, for the tying score.
The Spartans squandered a 14-point halftime lead and found themselves pinned at their own 21 with 1:32 left in regulation and no timeouts. They responded, going 67 yards for the tying field goal.
Caulcrick scored three touchdowns and Hoyer was 25-of-42 for 308 yards to lead Michigan State, which lost for the fourth time in five games. The Spartans were attempting to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2003.
Young sprinted 26 yards for a touchdown to bring the Hawkeyes within 17-10 early in the third quarter. He ran for 63 yards on Iowa's next drive, including a 3-yard touchdown to tie the game with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
"They found a way to run the football a little bit and busted one and all of a sudden it was 17-10 and momentum starts to turn," Dantonio said.
Iowa took its first lead, 20-17, on Daniel Murray's 47-yard field goal with 10:05 left.
The Spartans racked up 252 yards of total offense in the first half.
Caulcrick's 1-yard plunge gave Michigan State a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, and his 1-yard score with 2:12 left in the first half put the Spartans ahead 17-3.
Michigan State linebacker SirDarean Adams was a late scratch and did not travel to Iowa, school officials said, and cornerback T.J. Williams played on special teams. Adams, Williams and reserve cornerback Jeremy Ware were charged Wednesday with unarmed robbery stemming from an April incident in the parking lot of a store.
Ware, who rarely plays, also didn't make the trip. Dantonio refused to comment on Adams' absence or Ware and Williams following the game, saying only that it was "unrelated" to the outcome.
This was Iowa's second emotional home win in three weeks. The Hawkeyes snapped an eight-game losing streak in the Big Ten by beating Illinois, 10-6, and their victory over the Spartans makes the prospect of a bowl bid much more attainable.
To earn one, the Hawkeyes will have to continue to battle injuries. Defensive end Ken Iwebema missed the game with a concussion, and linebacker Mike Klinkenborg left the game after fracturing his right hand.
Iowa has already lost starting wide receiver Andy Brodell and tight end Tony Moeaki for the season. There was no immediate word on the status of Shada, Young, Fletcher or Sims.
"We're not the prettiest car on the lot, that's for sure. But we've got a strong engine," Ferentz said.