The Stand: A Year Later

A year ago this weekend, Iowa earned a spot on all the national postgame highlight shows with a goal-line stand to finish off Syracuse, 20-13, in double overtime. The Orangemen come to Kinnick Stadium Saturday, which is bringing to mind one of the most memorable moments in Hawkeye history.

Some moments in football history are capsulated in a few words. Iowa fans remember "The Catch" as Drew Tate to Warren Holloway to win the 2005 Capital One Bowl on the final play. It's a joyous memory.

The Hawkeyes added another signature memory last season. No, not "The Meltdown," which happened at Indiana or "The Fat Cat," which went down at home against Northwestern. I'm talking about "The Stand."

Perhaps Iowa's season highlight took place in Syracuse's Carrier Dome in Week 2. The Hawkeyes stopped the home team on six straight plays from the two-yard line to secure a 20-13 win in double overtime.

As I watched the action from a press box seat right on the goal line, I sat on the edge of my seat. When Iowa stuffed the Orangemen on the game's final play, I shook my head in disbelief.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has said it was something he never saw before and probably won't be a part of again. I didn't realize that right after the game, but a year later I certainly appreciate it a lot more. It was special.

I left the game feeling good about the Hawkeyes. They won a road game despite turning it over four times behind backup quarterback Jason Manson. As it turned out, it should have served as a warning sign for a season of sloppy play.

But as bad as things became in '06, "The Stand" will live on as a great moment in Hawkeye history. We just didn't realize it would be the highlight of the campaign.

"It was a totally unusual situation," Ferentz said. "Both teams were competing extremely hard at that point, and I think you've got to give our defense an awful lot of credit. To hold up like that was phenomenal. The last couple plays, just outstanding."

Syracuse certainly deserves an assist in this event. The Orangemen ran the ball six times in a row from the two. Let's just say that the play calling lacked imagination.

The teams traded field goals in the first overtime before Iowa running back Albert Young put the Hawkeyes ahead 20-13 on a one-yard scoring plunge to start Overtime 2.

Syracuse moved the ball down to the five in five plays on its possession. Pass interference on the following play set the Orangemen up with a first and goal from the Iowa 2. The Hawkeyes held next two downs before being whistled again for pass interference, setting up another first and goal from the two.

"The one thing that I remember most about the goal line stand was me and Bryan Mattison talking in there," Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King said. "We just kept telling each other that we just have to keep our feet moving. We have to keep coming across. We have to keep knocking the center back. We just kept looking at each other almost dead. We were so exhausted."

Syracuse gained one yard total on his next three plays, all runs, setting up a fourth and goal at the one. The Orangemen called timeout. The home team tried to run it again, but Mattison, Mike Klinkenborg and Kenny Iwebema, who was credited with four tackles on the six plays from the two, finished off Paul Chiarra before he could reach the end zone.

"It was a mixture of relief and being tired," defensive tackle Matt Kroul said of the game's end. "It's an awesome feeling that you can stop a team like that."

Official scoring gave Iwebema credit for the tackle on the final play. He held Chiarra up while Klinkenborg finished him off. Mattison was on the bottom of the pile.

"You can't run without your legs," Mattison joked this week. "I had his legs. We both got him. You can give (Iwebema) credit on that one."

The amount of energy burned during that final series was obvious on the linemen's faces during the postgame press conference at the Carrier Dome.

"We played every play like it was the last one," King said. "We were planning on stopping them every play. We were never worried about not doing too much by any means."

You would figure that a great stand like that would include at least one senior, but the entire Iowa defensive line that held last season will be intact when Syracuse visits Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night.

"The goal line stand was cool," Mattison said. "It's something you can show your grandkids someday. But that was last year. Knowing we went into two overtimes with them last year, this year we know they're going to be a well-coached team. They're going to play a whole game. That was obvious last year."

Said Kroul: "It's something you'll remember forever. But you never want to be in that position, fighting a team off of your goal line. Hopefully we don't have to do that this Saturday."

Please. I don't think I could take another one of those. I know the coaching staff couldn't.


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