There was the guy who jumped so quickly, forcefully and high that he punched his head through a sub-ceiling.
Others admitted, sheepishly, that they dropped babies. One man explained that his grandfather let the years melt away, dancing on a table in a bar like an over-served college student.
The stories go on and on and on, Warren Holloway said.
When it was announced that Iowa will face Louisiana State in the Outback Bowl, it launched conversations in diners, living rooms, offices and all locations in between about the last time the teams played.
Fans eagerly rewind to the moment when Holloway peered over his left shoulder to haul in a pass from Drew Tate and win the 2005 Capital One Bowl on the final play of the game — and the last play of his previously touchdown-lacking career.
The play — known to Iowans as “The Catch” or simply “Tate to Holloway” — put a ceiling-altering, baby-oopsing, table-boogieing exclamation point on arguably the most improbable finish in the annals of Hawkeye football.
Let radio announcer Gary Dolphin explain:
Now, they gotta call timeout … They wind the clock … Nine seconds to play and Drew Tate doesn’t know that …
(The tone turns more desperate.) The game’s going to END on this play …
He fires downfield … and it’s caught … and …
INTO THE END ZONE! TOUCHDOWN IOWA! TOUCHDOWN IOWA! … NO TIME ON THE CLOCK! … I DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW! … TOUCHDOWN IOWA! OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW!
It was one of those rare moments where memories are etched into mental cement, there for a sports fan to remember and replay — even though almost all who hear it know all the details themselves.
Plays like “The Catch,” you see, are about the re-living more than the re-telling.
“It was one of the ESPN Classics,” Tate, a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, said by telephone from his native Texas. “I never thought I’d be in one of those.”
Tate and Holloway are connected by more than the play called “All Up, X Post,” a 56-yard stunner as time expired. They’re linked by the second, third and 100th lives the play experiences through fan and media accounts.
The unofficial leader of fewest beers purchased after a play is kicker Rob Houghtlin, whose field goal allowed No. 1 Iowa to beat No. 2 Michigan in 1985. Second on that list? Tate, who was asked how much one flick of his right arm has saved him on his half-dozen or so trips back to campus.
Tate laughs: “A few hundred bucks, probably.”
Years later, the details remain rich and crisp in both players’ minds.
“When he threw it, I thought he was throwing it to Ed (Hinkel),” said Holloway, a project manager in facilities management of small-box retails in suburban Chicago. “But someone had to stay with the ball, or we were going to lose. Someone in our jersey had to catch it, so I kept going.
“When I figured out I had a shot at it, one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going to catch it and get my head taken off, because I knew the safety was around somewhere. Or it would be incomplete and we lose.”
He never considered a third option … the catch-it, win-it, become-an-instant-sports-hero option.
The safety peeled away from Hinkel to lunge at Holloway, briefly securing a few fingers’ worth of jersey before tumbling to the turf. The final four yards, Holloway locks both arms around the ball like a fullback on fourth-and-1 — ensuring that the miracle would finish uninterrupted.
There’s no “The Catch,” however, without “The Throw.” The early reports on the pass, though, were less than ESPN-worthy.
“To be honest, I thought I overthrew him,” Tate said.
The inexplicable nature of the situation — Iowa had two timeouts left, but didn’t use them when coaches failed to realize the clock was running after a false-start penalty — caused Tate to rip off his helmet and run with arms overhead and wide, disbelieving eyes.
Backup quarterback Jason Manson grabbed a full-throttle Tate from behind, spinning him twice like an odd square dancing partner.
“Then I remember Bob Bowlsby (Iowa’s former athletic director) coming over and grabbing me,” Tate said. “Now he’s the Big 12 commissioner. How about that? Not a bad gig.”
The moment replaced one set of screams with another.
Fans who had barked “CALL TIMEOUT! CALL TIMEOUT!” at TV screens suddenly found themselves celebrating.
“I saw (ex-Iowa and NFL lineman) Robert Gallery the next semester,” Tate said. “His brother John was a punter on that team. Robert said he was sitting there and literally jumped off the couch yelling like crazy.”
Dolphin, Iowa’s radio announcer, marveled aloud at the play partially engineered by Holloway, twice calling him “the forgotten man.” For Iowa football fans, there’s no forgetting Holloway. Or Tate. Or The Throw. Or The Catch.
Playing LSU is just another excuse to see it, hear it and live it one more time.
Bryce Miller can be reached at 515-284-8288 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Bryce_A_Miller
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football