Iowa QB Beathard plays through injury in Outback Bowl loss
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By FRED GOODALL
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) More often than not, C.J. Beathard found a way to help Iowa win.
He played through injuries and, at times, with a less than stellar group of receivers to help the No. 21 Hawkeyes move the ball.
Four times in his career, he threw for less than 100 yards - and won. He couldn't do it in Monday's Outback Bowl, tossing three fourth-quarter interceptions and having one of them returned 58 yards for a touchdown in a 30-3 loss to Florida.
"They are a good defense," the senior said after his final game. "We had some things that were working though. Plays here and there that could have changed the game. Obviously, things got out of hand."
Beathard injured a hamstring midway through the second quarter, trying to score on a third-down run from the Florida 7. He was hit hard at 1, spun and lunged toward the goal line. The Hawkeyes thought he might have scored, however officials ruled him down at the 1.
The quarterback climbed to his feet and limped back to the huddle. Things got worse, when LeShun Daniels was stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth down, and Florida took over on downs with the score tied 3-3.
It was all Gators after that, but Beathard insisted on staying on the field.
"I pulled my hamstring pretty bad on (that) run. It's frustrating because there were a couple of plays earlier in the game I could turn into positive yards that I couldn't do later," Beathard said.
"That was a huge play in the game. Plays like that and the pick six," Beathard added. "There was lots of things we could have done better."
Coach Kirk Ferentz defended the decision to leave Beathard in the game.
"First of all, he thought he could go back and play, which he always does. But then secondly, when he was playing, certainly he was limited in what he could do," Ferentz said. "He wasn't going to run, but he wanted to compete. I think we certainly owe it to him. He's had a tremendous career and laid it out there for us game in and game out."
Beathard finished with a 21-7 record as starter, tied for third for the most wins in school history behind Chuck Long (34) and Ricky Stanzi (26). His winning percentage is the highest among any QB with at least 20 starts.
His record when throwing for less than 100 yards in a game was 4-0 before Monday, including wins over Michigan and Illinois this season. Forced into desperation mode after Chauncey Gardner Jr. returned an interception for a TD to drop Iowa into a 24-3 hole, Beathard finished 7 of 23 for 55 yards and three picks.
"We've had a lot of tough guys come through the University of Iowa and play football, at least in my 27 years, and he's right up there at the top," Ferentz said. "They don't come any tougher. ... It's just a tough way for him and all the seniors to finish up because I can't compliment these guys enough, whether it's C.J. Beathard or guys that weren't starters."
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Updated January 2, 2017