Editor’s Note: To view exclusive video highlights of this Fight for Iowa Coca-Cola moment, purchase a University of Iowa Hawkeye 16 ounce Coca-Cola can for sale throughout Eastern Iowa, download the Hawkeye Sports App, and select the Xtream HawkVision feature throughout the countdown.
By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One of the most celebrated footballs in University of Iowa history has finally made it to Iowa City.
It’s the football that Iowa center Mike Elgin snapped to quarterback Drew Tate with seven seconds remaining in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. The one that Tate threw and wide receiver Warren Holloway caught for the fifth-year senior’s first and only collegiate touchdown. A 56-yard play that gave the Hawkeyes a stunning 30-25 walk-off win over LSU in Nick Saban’s final game as its head coach.
That football has been in the basement of Scott Koch’s York, Nebraska, home the past 13 years.
“It got back to where it needed to be,” said Koch, a member of the Capital One officiating crew on Jan. 1, 2005, and now a Big XII Conference observer.
Koch, the side judge, ended up with the ball after Holloway let go of it to celebrate with his teammates.
“It’s the only football, in 24 years of working Division I football, that I ended up with,” Koch said.
The officiating crew didn’t dress at the stadium. A van was waiting to take them back to their hotel immediately after the game. Koch hustled off to catch his ride and took the football with him.
In 2014, Koch was at Kinnick Stadium working as an observer for the Iowa-Iowa State game. During a conversation with Steve Roe, Iowa’s assistant athletics director for communications, Koch mentioned he had worked the 2005 Capital One Bowl and had the historic football at his home.
“You need to send it to me,” Roe said with a laugh.
Koch was back again as the observer for the Iowa-Iowa State game in 2016.
“I said, ‘Hey, you never sent me that football,” Roe told him.
Koch replied, “I can get that football back to you. I just have to find it.”
Nine months later, Koch called Roe and said, ‘I’m cleaning out my basement. Do you still want that football?’
Absolutely, Roe told him. The ball has Iowa’s logo imprinted on it. It is marked “QB III.’ Greg Morris, Iowa’s equipment manager, confirms its authenticity.
“Very rarely do you get a scoring play like that on the last play of the game,” Koch said. “I remember that one very well.”
The last play was, as Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz likes to say, a Kodak moment. That game would have lived in a different kind of infamy had Tate not found Holloway.
LSU had taken its first lead of the game, 25-24, on a touchdown pass from Jamarcus Russell to Skyler Green with 46 seconds to play. The two-point conversion failed. It was the second touchdown pass of the game for Russell, who had struggled all season. He completed 12-of-15 passes in a reserve role against Iowa.
“You could see during the season they were trying to make him a starter, and he just couldn’t do it,” said Ferentz. “That was the only time in the game where I felt like, ‘OK, maybe we’re in good shape now,’ when they brought him in. I thought he’d throw at least two of them to us and then he played like the All-American be became.”
Iowa started the final drive from its own 30, with 39 seconds left on the clock and two timeouts left. Tate found Ed Hinkel for 11 yards, then Holloway for 8 more to the 49. There were 14 seconds left when Tate spiked the ball, but officials ruled he had taken the snap before the ball was put in play. The 5-yard penalty put the ball on the Iowa 44.
Ferentz didn’t realize the clock would start after the penalty had been walked off.
“There are certain things in your life that you’ll never forget,” said Brian Ferentz, now Iowa’s offensive coordinator and the starting right guard that day. “I remember breaking the huddle, and looking up at the clock.
“There were red numbers on the clock in Orlando, and it was under 10 seconds. My only thought was, ‘How are we going to explain this in the postgame? How are we going to answer, ‘How did we screw this up?’ Because we had dominated them the whole game, and they dominated us for two minutes.”
Scenarios like this one rarely turn out well.
“So you’re waiting for the final shoe to drop,” Brian admitted. “You’re kind of following the play. Warren comes spitting out with the ball. I see Hinkel pealing back catching a block, and the crowd goes crazy. I remember thinking, ‘Holy crap, I think we just won the game.’ And the rest is history.”
Kirk Ferentz said he has gone over those final hectic seconds “probably a million times. It was such a flurry of activity. The bottom line, at the end of the day, is when the ball got snapped our guys executed pretty well, and they didn’t.”
LSU had tried to blitz on the final play, but not every player got the message.
“The hectic nature of that play probably benefited us, quite frankly,” Kirk Ferentz said.
Once he realized the clock was running, the Iowa coach could do nothing but watch.
“At that point it’s in the players’ hands,” he said. “And Drew, fortunately, was right on top of it.”
It wasn’t until the next morning, as he read a newspaper, that Kirk Ferentz realized that was the only touchdown catch of Holloway’s career.
“That made it even better,” Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s a guy that worked really hard, didn’t play much until his fifth year, and then all of a sudden is part of one of the most famous plays in our history.”
And the football that Holloway caught is now in good hands. It is on display in the trophy case at the Stew and Lenore Hansen Football Performance Center.
“That’s awesome,” Kirk Ferentz said. “It should be in our trophy case. It’s good he sent it back.”
|Win No. 10||2003 Michigan|
|Win No. 9||2015 Nebraska|
|Win No. 8||2004 Outback Bowl vs. Florida|
|Win No. 7||2015 Pittsburgh|
|Win No. 6||2009 Michigan State|
|Win No. 5||2017 Ohio State|
|Win No. 4||2004 Wisconsin|
|Win. No. 3||2002 Minnesota|