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Detmer is Feeling Like a Loser After Making ‘Stupid’ Mistake

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It would have been more appropriate if BYU’s Ty Detmer had clenched his fist and thrown a right cross at the player standing in front of him.

But he didn’t. Instead, he extended his hand, smiled weakly and said: “Nice play.”

Nice?

Yeah.

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Nice if your idea of fun is having someone hit you over the head with a hammer.

The recipient of Detmer’s handshake and the man who delivered the blow was Carlos James, the Iowa defensive back who intercepted Detmer’s last collegiate pass and preserved a 13-13 tie in Monday’s Holiday Bowl at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

By Detmer’s own admission, the pass was stupid. Or, if you prefer, dumb. He said that, too.

What happened: BYU had a first and 10 on the Iowa 18 with less than a minute to play. Detmer rolled to his left, threw the ball and it took off like a paper airplane. The intended receiver, tight end Byron Rex, reached up and tipped it and it flew directly into the hands of James, who grabbed it in the end zone and bolted out to the 13.

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And that was that.

Once again, Ty settled for a tie in San Diego. The last one was a few weeks ago against San Diego State, 52-52. This one was different. Worse, that is.

“This kind of tie,” Detmer said, “is like a loss to me.

“I’m pretty hard on myself. I don’t like to make stupid mistakes. And that was probably the dumbest one I’ve made.”

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And he told that to James during their brief chat.

“He said it was a good play by me and a stupid play on his part,” James said.

James was good-natured about the whole matter, too. Very grateful. Willing to give credit where it was due.

“I want to thank him (Detmer),” James said. “If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t have happened.”

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Hard to believe that the man who had 987 completions in 1,574 attempts for an NCAA-record 15,381 yards ended his career with an interception. Could it have had something to do with the fact that BYU kickers missed two field goals and an extra point?

No, Detmer said.

“You’ve got to give him a chance,” he said. “It’s not my game to lose.”

No, it wasn’t. It was his game to tie, which spoiled an otherwise productive evening. Detmer finished with 29 completions in 44 attempts for 350 yards and two touchdowns. At times, such as his 43-yard completion over the middle to wide receiver Tim Nowatzke in the second quarter, Detmer threw with NFL zip. And, as usual, he made the right decisions.

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Except, of course, for the last one. Rex said he knew it would be intercepted right after he tipped it.

“I was just trying to bring it down like any other pass,” he said.

But as it turned out, it wasn’t any other pass. It was Detmer’s last, one he’ll likely think about a few times.

“Iowa’s a great team, though,” Detmer said. “I’m not going to go home and lose sleep over a tie. I’ll probably lose sleep over that last pass . . .”

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And maybe, when you think about it, a tie really wasn’t so bad for Detmer, who has twice been a loser here.

Then again, it depends on your perspective. This is what Iowa Coach Hayden Fry had to say to someone as he entered the interview room.

“I told LaVell (Edwards) ‘What a waste of time.’ ”


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