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CAPITAL ONE BOWL Iowa soars at last second



Published: Sat, January 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LSU overcame a 12-point deficit, only to lose on the final play.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Time ran out on the Nick Saban era at LSU, leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes not a second to spare.

Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway on the final play Saturday, a miracle ending that denied Saban a triumphant sendoff to the NFL. Instead No. 11 Iowa stunned No. 12 Louisiana State 30-25 in the Capital One Bowl.

"You always dislike losing a game, especially losing a game like this," said Saban, who will become the Miami Dolphins' coach next week.

Making the finish all the more improbable: Fifth-year senior Holloway scored the first touchdown of his career.

"It really hasn't hit me yet," he said. "Maybe in a month or so."

Wild finish

His score capped a wild fourth quarter and spoiled a comeback by the Tigers, who overcame a 12-point deficit with 8 1/2 minutes remaining.

Freshman JaMarcus Russell came off the bench to spark LSU's rally, throwing two touchdown passes to Skyler Green. When they connected for a 3-yard score, the Tigers led 25-24 with 46 seconds to go.

After Tate completed two passes, a penalty pushed Iowa back to its 44 with 14 seconds remaining. Tate wound up and threw long to Holloway, who was left open because of busted coverage. He caught a strike in stride at the 10 and dashed to the end zone as time expired.

"I thought I overthrew him," Tate said. "Once Warren caught it, he wasn't going down."

When Holloway scored, Saban threw up his arms in frustration, then watched the entire Iowa team stage a mob scene in the end zone.

'Mental errors'

"The last 14 or 20 seconds of this game somewhat tarnish the things that this team has accomplished in its four years," Saban said. "I only feel badly that I could not do more to help the players play better.

"Mental errors are a terrible way to lose, because that means the other guy didn't really physically beat you. You really beat yourself."

While Saban heads for the NFL, Iowa fans are glad coach Kirk Ferentz has turned down overtures from the pros. The Hawkeyes (10-2) won their eighth game in a row to reach double digits in victories for the third consecutive year under Ferentz.

Four of their wins were by a combined 11 points.

"I don't know if you could write a better script," Ferentz said. "Nobody would believe it if you did."

Aside from the fourth-quarter rally, LSU (9-3) struggled on offense and looked sloppy on special teams one week after Saban announced his resignation. He finished 48-16 in five years with the Tigers, leading them to a bowl game every season and to the BCS national championship in 2003.

Saban's farewell

Walking toward the exit after the game, Saban doubled back to wave to fans, who responded with modest applause and a few boos.

"This has probably been the best experience I've ever had as a coach -- the five years I spent at LSU," he said. "Call them golden years or whatever for me. I hope they were good years for everyone else."

Saban flew back to Baton Rouge with his team and planned to head for Miami on Monday.

LSU, which rallied in the fourth quarter to win four times during the regular season, came back again after Iowa took a 24-12 lead with 12:48 to go.

Russell -- Saban's third quarterback of the game -- capped a 74-yard drive by hitting Green with a 22-yard scoring pass. The Tigers quickly forced a punt, and this time Russell moved them 69 yards for a one-point lead that lasted until the final play.

LSU had two punts blocked, missed a 40-yard extra-point kick after committing two penalties, and came up short when the Tigers faked a 39-yard field-goal attempt.




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