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Capital 1 Bowl: Iowa Hail Mary beats LSU

LSU had completed another fourth-quarter comeback, but a blown coverage on the last play gave Iowa the game.

Associated Press
Published January 2, 2005


ORLANDO - Time ran out on the Nick Saban era at LSU, leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes not a second to spare.

Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway on the final play Saturday, a miracle ending that denied Saban a triumphant sendoff to the NFL. Instead No. 11 Iowa stunned No. 12 Louisiana State 30-25 in the Capital One Bowl.

"You always dislike losing a game, especially losing a game like this," said Saban, who will become the Miami Dolphins' coach next week.

Making the finish all the more improbable: Fifth-year senior Holloway scored the first touchdown of his career.

His score capped a wild fourth quarter and spoiled a comeback by the Tigers, who overcame a 12-point deficit with 81/2 minutes left.

Freshman JaMarcus Russell came off the bench to spark LSU's rally, throwing two touchdown passes to Skyler Green. When they connected for a 3-yard score, the Tigers led 25-24 with 46 seconds to go.

After Tate completed two passes, a penalty pushed Iowa back to its 44 with 14 seconds left. Tate wound up and threw long to Holloway, who was left open because of busted coverage. He caught a strike in stride at the 10 and dashed to the end zone as time expired.

Saban threw up his arms in frustration, as Iowa celebrated in the end zone.

"The last 14 or 20 seconds of this game somewhat tarnish the things that this team has accomplished in its four years," Saban said. "I only feel badly that I could not do more to help the players play better. While Saban heads for the NFL, Iowa fans are glad coach Kirk Ferentz has turned down overtures from the pros. The Hawkeyes (10-2) won their eighth game in a row to reach double digits in victories for the third consecutive year under Ferentz.

Four of their wins have been by a total of 11 points.

Aside from the fourth-quarter rally, LSU (9-3) struggled on offense and looked sloppy on special teams playing one week after Saban announced his resignation. He finished 48-16 in five years with the Tigers, leading them to a bowl game every season and to the BCS national championship in 2003.

Walking toward the exit after the game, Saban doubled back to wave to fans, who responded with modest applause and a few boos.

LSU, which rallied in the fourth quarter to win four times during the regular season, came back again after Iowa took a 24-12 lead with 12:48 left.

Russell - Saban's third quarterback of the game - capped a 74-yard drive by hitting Green with a 22-yard scoring pass. The Tigers quickly forced a punt, and this time Russell moved them 69 yards for a one-point lead that lasted until the final play.

While Tate and Holloway were the heroes, special teams were the difference. LSU had two punts blocked, missed a 40-yard extra-point kick after committing two penalties, and came up short when Saban faked a 39-yard field-goal attempt.

The Hawkeyes scored on their first possession by burning a blitz. Clinton Solomon caught a short pass over the middle from Tate, shook off a defender and sprinted to the end zone for a 57-yard score.

Iowa struck again 64 seconds before halftime on Miguel Merrick's blocked punt. Sean Considine scooped up the ball at the 7 and scored for a 14-6 lead.

LSU answered on the next play a 74-yard touchdown run by Alley Broussard.

Iowa mounted scoring marches of 60 and 72 yards in the second half. The first drive ended with a 19-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher, and Marques Simmons' 4-yard touchdown run made it 24-12.

But LSU's comeback left the Hawkeyes scrambling in the final seconds.