IOWA CITY, Iowa — With Purdue on the Iowa 24-yard line and threatening to score, the Hawkeyes needed a big play. So Iowa dialed up a blitz for Josey Jewell.
Upon the snap, the senior linebacker ran untouched past the offensive line, sacking Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar for a 9-yard loss.
After a career of stepping up when needed, Jewell did it. It’s a perfect way for him to conclude his career at Kinnick Stadium.
But the play, and his impressive day, became an afterthought in the 24-15 loss to Purdue on senior day.
“The object is to win, and when you lose, it kind of shadows everything,” linebacker Bo Bower said.
It’s a shame. Jewell almost is taken for granted because he consistently plays at such a high level. On the play before the sack, Jewell laid out Purdue wide receiver Terry Wright, forcing an incomplete pass.
Back-to-back plays from The Outlaw Josey Jewell on Senior Day pic.twitter.com/95h00V8Xe3
— Chris Hassel (@Hassel_Chris) November 18, 2017
He makes big, game-altering plays as often as others record tackles on 3-yard runs. It’s why he is a front-runner to win the Butkus Award this season.
Saturday was no different. Jewell recorded 13 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He added 3 pass breakups for good measure.
“Definitely gave us a boost and got the crowd into the game at that point,” said linebacker Ben Niemann on Jewell’s second-quarter sack. “He makes plays like that every week, and he has been good for us.”
It was a heck of a game, but it wasn’t the first thing Iowa fans thought about exiting Kinnick Stadium. It probably wasn’t the fifth thing they thought of, either.
With a win, Jewell’s senior day takes center stage, reminding the 60,554 in attendance how lucky they were to watch him during the last four years. The two-time All-Big Ten selection is fifth all time at Iowa with 418 tackles.
Instead, his performance fades into the background, as anger and frustration from the loss rises to the surface.
“We are like a roller coaster right now,” Jewell said. “We need to be able to sustain success and keep on doing it.”
A dip came at the worst time to give an Iowa legend his proper goodbye. At least, Iowa fans gave Jewell a rousing ovation during the pregame senior day festivities.
“Seeing my family out there, my two parents, it’s good to see them out there,” Jewell said, “but you never want to see that day come. You want to keep on playing football here, especially at a place like this. It sucks, but at the same time it’s a great accomplishment to go through this university, play football here and create the amazing relationships I’ve created.”
He won’t play in Kinnick again, but his Iowa career isn’t over. Two games remain. Two more chances to appreciate Jewell for the first-quarter sacks he makes seem routine.
And for him to receive the sendoff he deserves.