'The Catch' sticks with Iowa's Holloway

It's been nine long years, but Warren Holloway still can't go a week without hearing about "The Catch."

The former Iowa wideout became a household name in the Hawkeye State after a single play in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, when he caught a last-second Hail Mary touchdown from Drew Tate to stun LSU 30-25. Ever since then, that moment's never really left him.

Sometimes, the co-workers inside his Chicago office will tease him in front of clients or customers: "You see this guy on YouTube? He's all over the place." Sometimes, his family or friends will bring up the play, maybe the most unlikely game-winning play in Hawkeyes history.

But without fail, Holloway said, it'll get brought up at least once every week. And with LSU set to take on Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 -- the first time the teams have met since Holloway's catch -- he's had to deal with a bit more talk than usual about "The Catch."

"Honestly, it still plays a pretty good role in my life," Holloway said. "Anyone who knows me, if they know me long enough, they tend to come across that information. It's one of those cool little facts. They're like, 'You never told me.' It's kind of cool to have that in your backpocket -- and it's absolutely a blessing."

Holloway was an unlikely hero in that last meeting between LSU and Iowa. He entered that game, his final game, with no touchdown catches and just 256 career receiving yards. But, as his friends and co-workers found out, no one played a bigger role in that bowl victory.

The 31-year-old can still recall that play with great clarity, as if it happened yesterday. He answers most questions with a sentence or two but, when asked about that play, he dives into a 5-minute soliloquy that's so detailed you can still hear the chills in his voice.

Most Iowa fans probably remember it just as well. The Hawkeyes took over at their own 30, trailing 25-24, with less than a minute left in the game. Tate and Co. were just trying to get into field goal range but, after back-to-back completions, time started to slip away. With the time about to expire -- unbeknownst to Tate -- he decided to fire the ball downfield on one more play from the Iowa 44 -- a play that'd be forever etched in Hawkeyes history.

The prayer of a pass veered to the sideline, as Holloway initially thought the intended receiver was Ed Hinkel. But, luckily for Tate, Holloway figured he might as well try to catch up to the pass that drifted over his head. As Hinkel got in the way of one defensive back the ball slid into Holloway's hands, and he sprinted 15 more yards into the end zone to complete the 56-yard TD play.

"That was the fastest 15 yards in my life," Holloway said. "I feel like I only took three steps."

That touchdown, one which is sure to replayed over and over in the days leading up the Outback Bowl, felt like a movie to Holloway. Time literally slowed down on Holloway's route, he said, until time seemed to speed up faster once the ball was in his hands -- as if it needed to catch up to itself.

Once he crossed the end zone, he didn't even know time had expired. He still remembers standing there for a moment, not fully realizing the enormity of what he had done. His helmet began to vibrate -- the result of a dazed-but-screaming crowd -- and the earth literally began to shake beneath his cleats, "like a stampede." Every one of his teammates had left the sideline, sprinting straight toward him, and he still remembers what felt like an earthquake before they reached him.

He remembers some of his teammates -- he won't say whom -- openly weeping. One of his sobbing teammates just turned to him and said, "I love you, man." It was Holloway's first -- and only -- career touchdown catch.

"As far as being overcome with emotion, I don't know what else'd come close," he said, pausing. "Maybe having a kid."

Holloway will likely be reliving that moment quite a few times in the coming days. He hopes to be on the sideline when the Hawkeyes take on LSU at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. And, even if he might have to endure some more ribbing from his co-workers, he's looking forward to this LSU-Iowa matchup -- and reminiscing about the last one.

"It's something I'll always remember and appreciate," he said.