MIAMI, Fla. (Sports Network) - Brandon Wegher ran for a game-clinching 32-yard touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, and Ricky Stanzi threw for a pair of scores in his return from ankle surgery, as 10th-ranked Iowa pulled out a 24-14 victory against No. 9 Georgia Tech in the 76th edition of the Orange Bowl.
Stanzi was 17-of-29 for 231 yards and had an interception returned for a touchdown, while the freshman Wegher totaled 113 yards on 16 carries for Iowa (11-2), which notched its first major bowl win since beating California in the 1959 Rose Bowl.
The Hawkeyes seemed destined to return to the Rose Bowl after starting the season 9-0, but the injury to Stanzi led to consecutive losses to Northwestern and eventual Big Ten champ Ohio State in November to foil those plans.
Iowa's stingy defense held Tech to just 155 yards of offense, with junior defensive end Adrian Clayborn leading the way with nine tackles and two sacks to garner MYP honors.
"The fact that Adrian won the MVP in a BCS bowl, that doesn't happen too often where a defensive lineman dominates the way he did," said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. "Our whole group up front did a great job...and that's what it takes against a team like Georgia Tech."
Georgia Tech's spread offense couldn't recreate its success of the regular- season, as dynamic quarterback Josh Nesbitt was held to 46 yards rushing and two completions on nine pass attempts for 12 yards, including a critical fourth-quarter interception.
Anthony Allen's rushing TD represented the lone offensive score, while Jerrard Tarrant had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown for the Yellow Jackets (11-3), who captured their first outright ACC title since 1990.
Georgia Tech hasn't won in the postseason since taking a 51-14 decision from Syracuse in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl.
Georgia Tech's offense finally got on track and put seven on the board to make it a 17-14 game 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth.
An 11-play series spanning 71 yards bridged the two quarters and ended when Allen muscled his way across the goal line from a yard out on third down. Dwyer picked up a key first down earlier in the drive with an eight-yard run on 3rd-and-3 inside Iowa territory.
The Yellow Jacket defense came away with a big stop at midfield and forced a Hawkeye punt to get the ball back at their own 11 with a little less than nine minutes to go.
But on the next play, Nesbitt lost sight of Iowa's A.J. Edds while going through his progressions and threw perfectly down the middle of the field into the senior linebacker's waiting arms. Edds took it 13 yards the other way to the 15-yard line, but Tech breathed new life after a botched fake field goal attempt led to a turnover on downs.
However, three plays lost eight yards, including a run where junior running back Jonathan Dwyer narrowly escaped a safety, and the Yellow Jackets punted back to Iowa with less than five minutes left.
"After they ran the fake field goal...the first play we end up reversing field and getting tackled at the one. We kind of self-destructed ourselves a little bit," said Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson. "We didn't execute very well and we put ourselves behind the eight-ball with penalties too."
Starting from their own 37, Stanzi completed a nine-yard pass to Trey Stross on 3rd-and-8 to keep the chains moving and a 23-yard run by Wegher took the ball into enemy territory. Two plays later Wegher used a burst of speed to outrun several defenders up the left sideline for a 32-yard touchdown and 24-14 lead with 1:56 remaining.
Nesbitt then threw four straight incompletions to seal the Hawkeyes win.
Stanzi had the Hawkeyes out to a quick start, leading scoring drives of 80 and 83 yards on two of their first three drives to go up 14-0.
Iowa's initial possession ended on a Marvin McNutt fumble but a quick three- and-out by the Yellow Jackets had the ball back in Hawkeye hands in short order.
A 54-yard completion to tight end Tony Moeaki quickly moved the ball to the Tech nine-yard line, and on 3rd-and-goal Stanzi hit McNutt for a three-yard touchdown at the back right corner of the end zone.
Georgia Tech again produced a three-and-out and Iowa embarked on another quick scoring series. It took just four plays to move 83 yards in 1:54.
Adam Robinson's 15-yard run on the second play was followed by a 31-yard hookup between Stanzi and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to gain the Yellow Jackets' 21-yard line. On the next play, Stanzi dropped a perfect pass over the inside shoulder of Colin Sandeman just past the right pylon to give Iowa a 14-0 lead with four minutes left in the opening quarter.
The lead was cut in half just before the close of the frame when Tarrant stepped in front of an ill-advised Stanzi pass to the right side of the field and took it back 40 yards untouched to the end zone.
Both offenses bogged down in a scoreless second quarter. Iowa punted three times and turned it over on downs just before halftime while Georgia Tech went into the intermission with only one first down.
The Yellow Jackets opened the second half with a promising drive that featured a heavy dose of Dwyer, who ran it six times for 33 yards on the 12-play, 44- yard series. But Scott Blair hung a 41-yard field goal out to the right to keep the deficit at seven.
Daniel Murray capped an ensuing 10-play, 59-yard trek from Iowa with a 33-yard boot to go up by 10 with 2:17 to play in the third.