WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. –
The Iowa Hawkeyes left Ross-Ade Stadium and headed for the movies Saturday night in a foul mood.
This flick could be X-rated if their suspicions are correct.
The Hawkeyes felt they got robbed Saturday when their football game with Purdue ended in a 21-21 tie at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Did Brian Alford push Plez Atkins to catch a 28-yard touchdown pass and pull Purdue within two points, 21-19, with 6:12 left in the game?
Was Purdue quarterback Billy Dicken tackled at the 2-yard line before he stretched and placed the ball over the goal line for the two-point conversion?
The Hawkeyes voted “yes” on both charges.
“I’m certainly anxious to see the two-point play and touchdown pass on film,” said Iowa Coach Hayden Fry, trying to restrain himself.
He shook his head about both controversial plays.
“I can’t comment, because we have a gag rule in the Big Ten,” he said. “You just have to look at the play and see where his knee comes down and if the knee came down before the reach of the ball for the goal line.”
Fry carefully refrained from criticizing the officials when asked about the controversial touchdown catch.
“What did it look like?” he asked reporters. “If you watched it real close, uh … Once again, it was a touchdown and that’s the way they called it. You need to take a look at it.”
The players were sure Purdue got away with murder.
“I thought he nudged me, pushed me in the back a little,” said Atkins of the TD pass. “I thought it was a push, but oh well.
“That’s the way the game goes. Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t, and he did.”
Bobby Diaco was less willing to forgive and forget.
“I’m excited about watching the film,” said the Hawkeye middle linebacker. “You don’t want to make any excuses for losses, but I swear to God Plez got pushed in the back, and I could have sworn me and Johnny (Hartlieb) came up with the stop on the two-point play.”
The controversial plays overshadowed a crazy ballgame for both sides.
The Hawkeyes went from inept to brilliant in a short span of the second half after freshman Matt Sherman relieved Mike Duprey at quarterback.
Iowa (3-5-1, 1-4-1) exploded for three touchdowns in a span of 4 minutes, 19 seconds of the fourth quarter for all its points.
Purdue (4-2-2, 2-1-2) dominated the first half and would have won if Brad Bobich had made a 30-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the game. He was wide left.
“It was basically an extra point, and he missed it,” said Purdue Coach Jim Colletto. “That was a kick you should make.”
The outcome eliminated Iowa from bowl contention. The Hawkeyes can finish no better than 5-5-1 if they beat Northwestern and Minnesota, and it takes six wins to go bowling.
The Hawks felt they deserved better than a tie.
“That typifies the whole season,” said Diaco. “It sums it all up. It’s like kissing your sister.”
Iowa appeared dead and buried when Purdue took a 13-0 with 4:19 left in the third quarter. Duprey could not put any points on the board for Iowa, and with 240-pound fullback Mike Alstott running like a battering ram for Purdue it looked hopeless.
Then Iowa turned misfortune into success.
Duprey left the game with an eye injury – possibly a detached retina, Fry said — and Sherman took control late in the third quarter. Sherman had not played in six weeks because of a broken bone in his foot, but he sparked the Hawks immediately.
He rifled a 23-yard pass to Willie Guy on 3rd-and-8 for a first down at the Purdue 15 and four plays later Kent Kahl capped a 76-yard drive with a one-yard plunge. Brion Hurley’s PAT made it 13-7 with 12:41 left in the fourth quarter.
Dicken fumbled two plays later and Diaco recovered for Iowa at the Purdue 38. Suddenly the Hawks were back in business, and that’s what it was, real sudden.
It took one play.
Freshman Tavian Banks took a simple handoff, avoided blitzing Boilermakers at the line of scrimmage and took off for a 38-yard touchdown, neatly cutting by the last defender inside the 5-yard line.
It gave Iowa its second touchdown in 51 seconds. Combined with Hurley’s PAT, the Hawks had a 14-13 edge with 11:50 to go.
Sherman muffed a golden opportunity shortly after when he missed a handoff to Ryan Terry and fumbled to Purdue at the Boilermaker 11, but the Hawks quickly made amends.
The defense forced a punt and got its buddies back in business at the Purdue 39.
This touchdown “drive” took exactly one play, just like the last one.
Sedrick Shaw squirted through the line of scrimmage, cut to the sideline and raced 39 yards for another quick score. Hurley’s PAT made it 21-13 with 8:22 to go.
The Hawks were alive and looking good.
Sherman had no logical explanations. Iowa struggled most of the day against the 103rd-ranked defense in the country, then in a few minutes the Hawks had three touchdowns and the lead.
“I just looked up and said ‘Praise the Lord’ and said thank-you very much,” he remarked, rejecting credit. “It’s not me.”
The Boilermakers went back to work at their own 20-yard line behind Dicken, a soph quarterback with little experience. He entered the game in the first period when Rick Trefzger suffered a knee injury and played very well, hitting 12 of 24 passes for 200 yards.
He had completed only eight passes in his career before the game.
Dicken passed 13 yards to Burt Thornton. He tossed a screen pass to Alstott, and the powerful fullback rumbled 31 yards to the Hawkeye 36.
Iowa stiffened and forced Purdue into 3rd-and-14, and that’s when Dicken lofted a high pass toward Alford near the corner of the field.
“I saw the ball in the air,” said Atkins. “I looked up and I was going to make a play on it. I kind of slowed down because I was going to overrun it.”
That’s when he felt the push in the back.
“That’s the way it goes,” he said. “He made the play and I didn’t. I thought he pushed me. That’s the way it went and I can’t change that.”
Iowa had a chance after Purdue knotted the score.
The Hawks got to the Boilermaker 42, but Kahl was stopped on 4th-and-1.
Purdue got to the Iowa 20-yard line with 1:29 left when Colletto began playing the clock and angling for the field goal.
The kick missed, and both clubs went home unhappy.
Iowa is idle next week before hosting Northwestern Nov. 12.