Kirk Ferentz’s time at Iowa has included some fantastic finishes. These are my top four, three of which I was lucky enough to attend.
2015 vs. Pittsburgh: This game is also memorable due to the emotional scene right before kickoff. Former Hawkeye DB Brett Greenwood led the Hawkeye swarm onto the field, igniting the Kinnick Stadium crowd and not leaving a dry eye in the building. It was Greenwood’s first time back on the field since surviving his near-death experience with heart arrhythmia. The game was a back and forth battle and came down to CJ Beathard leading the team down the field to get into position for one last field goal try. Senior Marshall Koehn stepped up from 57 yards and booted a beauty that cleared the uprights by only a few feet. The team poured out onto the field while the black and gold striped stadium went absolutely WILD. Hawks win 27-24.
2008 vs. Penn State: This game was a springboard to a 13-game winning streak for the program….and what a game it was. Iowa came in a very pedestrian 5-4 and facing a #3 ranked Penn State team that was undefeated, and thinking about a National Championship. Iowa was down 23-14 going into the 4th quarter. Shonn Greene scored from 6 yards out to put Iowa within 2 points with 9 minutes left in the game. Penn State was driving and facing a 3rd & 24, QB Daryl Clark threw a high pass over the middle and Tyler Sash was there to make the interception. From there, the legend of Ricky Stanzi began. Stanzi lead Iowa down the field to set up Daniel Murray for a 31-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left. I was in the stands and couldn’t stand to watch, I waited for the roar of the crowd as the ball sailed through the uprights. Players stormed the field, then the fans stormed the field, and I was hugging random fans as they ran down the bleachers to the Kinnick turf. What a game. Iowa wins 24-23
2016 vs. Michigan: Another top 5 ranked team coming into Iowa City for a night game. Sound familiar? Jim Harbaugh and his #3 ranked Wolverines came to town riding high with similar National Championship aspirations as the aforementioned Nittany Lions. Iowa was coming off back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. Michigan was a 19-point favorite over the 5-4 Hawkeyes. Akrum Wadley was a man in this game, the junior RB amassed 167 total yards with a receiving TD against a stout Michigan defense. Iowa had the ball down by 2 with two minutes left in the ballgame when CJ Beathard tries the deep ball but is picked off! Michigan failed to get a first down and punted back to Iowa with 1:34 left on the clock. All-American Desmond King was able to wiggle free for a few yards on the punt return and a costly facemask penalty added another 15 yards onto King’s return. Iowa then squeaked out two first downs to setup walk-on true freshman kicker Keith Duncan for a 33-yard game winner. Duncan luckily started the kick to the right as it had to bend around a big Michigan push up the middle. The ball then swung back to the left and passed through the uprights. Kinnick Stadium exploded as Iowa went from 19-point underdogs to ending Michigan’s National Championship hopes. I was at this game and was able to make it down to storm the field and take pictures from the 50-yard line. Unforgettable moment. Suck it, Harbaugh. Iowa sends Michigan home by a score of 14-13.
2005 Capital One Bowl – Iowa vs. LSU: I mean, c’mon, you had to know this one was going to be in here. Not just one of the best finishes in Kirk’s tenure at Iowa, but one of the best endings in bowl history. This game was full of future NFL players and some coach named Nick Saban that was headed to the NFL following the game. Iowa jumped out quickly with a 57-yard TD pass from Drew Tate to Clinton Solomon. LSU then added a pair of field goals in the 2nd quarter to get the score to 7-6 heading towards halftime. However, just before half Iowa forced LSU to punt and Sean Considine charged in to block the punt into the endzone where Iowa recovered for a touchdown with 1:04 left before half. Iowa fans feeling good….until just 25 seconds later when LSU’s Alley Broussard got loose for a 74-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 14-12 with Iowa leading at the half. A boring 3rd quarter comes and goes with Iowa eeking out a field goal and we head to the 4th quarter with a score of 17-12, Iowa. Enter future #1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell for LSU. Iowa was leading 24-12 in the 4th when Russell’s heroics bring the Bayou Bengals roaring back. Capped off by a TD pass with 46 seconds remaining in the game to put LSU up 25-24. Iowa QB Drew Tate says, “hold my beer“. The final drive starts off in a pretty maddening fashion as a fan watching the game. 11-yard pass to Ed Hinkel….tick, tick, tick….9-yard pass to Warren Holloway….tick, tick, tick….false start on a botched spike attempt to start the clock with :14 seconds left (while having a timeout remaining). As for what happened next, I’ll lay it out there as Gary Dolphin famously did:
“Now they wind the clock…. Nine seconds to play and Drew Tate doesn’t know that…. The games 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 DONT BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW! . . . TOUCHDOWN IOWA! OH MY GOD, I CANT BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW!”
And now…..Warren Holloway will never have to pay for a beer in Iowa City ever again. Iowa shocks LSU by a final score of 30-25.
I was in my parents basement with my dad and his friend as we were all three screaming at the TV to call a timeout. That frustration quickly turned to pure elation as all started jumping up and down…hooting and hollering and high-fiving. That will always be my number 1 most memorable Iowa football game.
So there you have it. My Mount Rushmore of Iowa football game finishes in the Kirk Ferentz era. Long may he reign. #InKirkWeTrust