JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- JU defensive coordinator Jerry Odom remembers so well the last time the Dolphins traveled to Butler he can recall the last Bulldogs' drive by the play. That's not necessarily a good thing.
That drive makes him ill and he would like to forget it, but can't, and it is top of mind this week as the Dolphins prepare for a return trip to Indianapolis to meet Butler again.
It was that game, or specifically that last drive, haunting the 23-year coaching veteran. It led to a 19-16 Butler win and led to what Odom says is the worst loss of his football life.
Incredibly, nearly two years later (that game was Nov. 3, 2012), he can tell you every play of the 14-play, 95-yard drive that began with 2:55 to go and ended with two seconds on the clock. Not only can he tell you every play, he remembers the penalties, who was involved in tackles, he remembers it all.
He remembers staying in a pretty base defense because there weren't enough secondary people to go around.
"I didn't have any dime or nickel guys left because we had two corners and a safety hurt during the game so we stayed in base defense,'' Odom said this week.
He remembers, and still isn't sure about, a third and 8 pass interference call against JU's Andre Addison on the third play of the drive.
"That was crucial. It could have not been called,'' he said "Addison was just running with the guy and had position and that would have made it fourth and 12 and you have a chance to get off the field and win the game. That one hurt.''
And, he remembers Butler quarterback Matt Lancaster completing a couple of passes then targeting freshman defensive back Dallas Jackson.
"They went after him twice,'' Odom said. "The first time he defended it – they tried to run a wheel route on him and he defended it great – and the second time he kind of got lost on the play and ended up getting a pass interference in the end zone.''
It's a game Jackson can't forget, either.
"I remember it like it was yesterday, not in a good way,'' Jackson, from Palmetto, Fla., and now a junior said. "I remember we had the game in our hands. We were down three corners so we weren't able to put the right personnel in the game for that situation but it is what it is. It's adversity and you've got to face it.''
Jackson doesn't shy away from talking about his role in the final drive.
"They knew I was a freshman and were picking on me the whole game, but they didn't catch a ball on me,'' he said. "On that last drive we had two PI (pass interference) calls; one of them was on me. On the first down I had a breakup and third down is when I had the pass interference and we still, on that last little bit of the drive, on that fourth down we stuffed them again and made them fumble (which Jackson got his hands on). One ref crossed his hands and said no good, the other ref said touchdown, they huddled up and called it a touchdown. It was heartbreaking. Very heartbreaking.''
"They came out on the 2-yard line (following the interference call),'' Odom said. "First play we stuffed it. The second play they almost got home, the third play we stuffed it and on fourth down that's when they say he got in.''
"He'' is Lancaster who leaped into the air from the 1 and appeared to lose the ball on the way up. Officials talked, said he retained possession and awarded the Bulldogs the winning score.
"Whether he got in or not, the officials called it good so he got in,'' Odom said. "But give Butler credit, they battled all the way. They did a great job; they do a great job. They are a very well-coached team, they give you a lot of problems with the schemes they do and their kids have got to be disciplined and are.''
Nonetheless, Odom to this day is wracked with what ifs and Butler has gone on to be PFL co-champs two years running.
"We were hurt on offense, we were on our third quarterback and our kids went up and battled,'' he said. "It was cold, sleeting and our kids never flinched. We had a couple of chances to make big plays. We had a pick that we ran back to about the 30 then threw an interception on the first play; we had another chance at a pick that was dropped on one of their scoring drives. I was proud the way our kids battled as hurt and beat up as we were, especially in the secondary. To give up 95 yards, 30 yards of it being penalties doesn't help, obviously, but then to have your kids keep fighting and think we've got it stopped ….''
But does it really make him sick to his stomach?
"That would be a fair statement,'' Odom said. "Long story short, that one sticks with me pretty good.
Worse loss I ever had.''