Nov. 16, 2008
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After sending the seniors out on a bitter note the past two seasons during the Kinnick Stadium finale, the University of Iowa football team got it right Saturday, defeating Purdue 22-17.
In yet another nail-biting episode, the Hawkeyes watched a desperation pass from Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter sail over everyone’s head for an incompletion as time expired, giving Iowa its seventh win on the season.
It was time for the seniors to say goodbye to Kinnick Stadium and their beloved fans. A fitting video tribute aired on the scoreboard’s jumbotron, showing seniors and head coach Kirk Ferentz thanking the fans.
“It feels good,” senior defensive tackle Mitch King said. “The last couple years we sent our seniors out on a sour note, this year it felt good. We have 15 other seniors besides myself and it feels good seeing them smile in the locker room and having a good senior day.”
“Extremely happy for our seniors first and foremost,” Ferentz said. “They’ve done a wonderful job this year, not just this year but the years they have been on campus. Each guy played a significant role in any success that we’ve had. I’m very, very happy for them and happy for our entire football team.”
Seniors like King, defensive back Bradley Fletcher and wide receiver Andy Brodell, played their hearts out and produced big. Fletcher had nine tackles, Brodell had four catches for 42 yards and King had five tackles — three resulting in a loss of yardage — a forced fumble and a sack that came on Purdue’s final drive which helped cap the win.
“It really doesn’t hit you until the day is here,” Brodell said. “It’s been a quick five years here and it’s definitely a little sad going out there on the field today. But at the same time, it was a great win for us and our seniors. It doesn’t really hit you until the game is over and it was a little bit emotional, but it’s just a great way for us seniors to go out.”
“It was the last game in Kinnick for the seniors,” Fletcher said. “To go and play in Kinnick and be able to win and to beat a good team like Purdue and get seven wins feels good.”
It has been a wildly entertaining rollercoaster season for the Hawkeyes. With the exception of blowout wins against Maine, Florida International, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the other seven games came down to the wire. The four losses were by a combined 12 points while the three other wins were by a combined 18 points.
“It is what you want to do, you will remember this game the rest of your life,” senior defensive tackle Matt Kroul said. “It was a little close, but we came out with the win and it feels good.”
The seniors leave having several memories ranging from ESPN College Gameday against Ohio State two seasons ago to last weekend when they upset No. 3 Penn State in thrilling fashion. It is never easy to say goodbye, but their memories of Kinnick Stadium and the Iowa fans will linger for the rest of their lives.
“It was important to us,” Ferentz said. “We were 0 for 2 the last two times out for senior day, and that’s important for us to play well in Kinnick. That’s always been something that’s paramount to us program-wise. Certainly you want to finish on a positive note, and we were able to do that today, finished out not quite a perfect year in Kinnick, but certainly we’ve improved in that regard. And then to send our seniors out after coming up short two years in a row, that’s a good feeling, because these guys deserved it, too, but these guys have done a great job.”