Nov. 28, 2012
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By RYAN MURPHY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — On Thanksgiving night 2012, a new rivalry was born.
The University of Iowa football managers had battled the University of Wisconsin’s managers yearly for the Rusty Toolbox trophy, which became a staple of the Iowa-Wisconsin rivalry. With the Badgers rotating off the Hawkeyes’ schedule in 2011, a new rivalry — and a new trophy — was found.
And so, the battle for “The Helmet” was created.
The equipment and video staffs from the University of Nebraska entered the UI Indoor Practice Facility on Thursday night to battle the Hawkeye managers for a helmet painted half black, half white, the Nebraska “N” on the white side, and the Iowa tigerhawk on the other. An instant classic would ensue, with the Hawkeyes claiming a 12-6 victory in triple overtime.
From the beginning, both the Hawkeye and Cornhusker defenses took control, keeping the game scoreless through one quarter. The first breakthrough came midway through the second quarter, when Iowa quarterback Tanner Butler, backed up inside his own 20-yard line on the 80-yard field, found Dan Pease for a 46-yard completion. He found Pease again for a 14-yard gain to the 2-yard line.
On third-and-goal, Butler rolled to his right, evading the Husker rush. Eventually, the senior quarterback fired a bullet to Jaye Nauman in the front corner of the end zone for an Iowa touchdown. It would be the last Hawkeye touchdown in regulation. For the most of the remainder of the game, the defenses regained control, keeping the score at 6-0. For the Hawkeyes, Tyler Greiner was a force, recording six tackles, two sacks, three pass deflections, and an interception. The Hawkeyes forced three interceptions in regulation, with Ben Morrow and Ben Dolan adding picks for the Iowa defense.
However, the Cornhuskers tied the game on a short touchdown pass with 35 seconds left, giving Nebraska a chance to take the lead on a one-point conversion. The Iowa defense forced an incompletion, and after a last-gasp effort, headed for overtime. In the first overtime, the Hawkeyes could not score, giving Nebraska another chance to claim victory. The Iowa defense again stonewalled the Cornhuskers, and on fourth down, Nauman intercepted the Nebraska quarterback and returned it for a touchdown — only for a penalty to extend the game.
After the teams traded possessions in the second overtime, the Hawkeyes lined up for their third crack at the end zone in triple overtime. On the first play, Butler, who was 12-of-20 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, found Dolan in the back corner of the end zone for what proved to be the decisive score. Dolan finished with 85 total yards of offense, including 64 receiving yards.
Three plays later, on fourth-and-goal, pressure from Greiner and blanket coverage in the secondary, forced an incompletion from Nebraska, and the Hawkeyes ran across the field to claim “The Helmet” for the first time.
On Nov. 22, a tradition was born. In 2013, Wisconsin returns to the schedule, so the Hawkeye managers will have two tasks: keep The Helmet, and win back The Toolbox.