Whammy in Miami – 20 years ago today

24 Sep

Sept. 24, 1994

Cover - Mia-UW


ENDING ‘CANES’ STREAK AT 58 – Seattle Times headline

Mia - UW ticket


A re-print from The Seattle Times (www.seattletimes.com)


MIAMI – They came back onto the field to take a piece of what they thought belonged to them.

Blades of grass. The grass of the Orange Bowl.

Most of the Washington Huskies lingered on the field, whether to pray, hug coaches or rip out chunks of turf. Cameras, microphones and notepads tried to record the spreading pandemonium.

Players and coaches were soaked with some combination of sweat, water and tears. Judging by the magnitude of the celebration, the Huskies got their bowl game after all.

Washington beat No. 6 Miami 38-20 and broke the longest home winning streak in college football history, an accomplishment befitting a champion, though Washington will likely be champion of none this season.

They won’t take any trophies, just the grass. Some went back after showering, just to stare at that field one more time. The mystique of the Orange Bowl. The magic of playing here. For so many games, so many years, it worked for the Hurricanes. But yesterday, the voodoo ended.

The victory brought Athletic Director Barbara Hedges out on the field looking for high-fives. She scheduled this game three years ago against the better judgment of some.

“Do I look like a genius?” she asked after the question was posed. “Oh, my God.”

Young Hurricane fans leaned over the railing, turn-coated by the accomplishment of these strange purple-wearing players they had scarcely heard of. Teenagers, too young to remember the last time Miami lost in the Orange Bowl, were asking Huskies for their wristbands and gloves, cheering them on.

Word got out among the Huskies that Miami Coach Dennis Erickson had jokingly suggested the losers of this game relinquish their national championship rings from 1991, when both teams finished undefeated.

“Take the rings back,” safety Lawyer Milloy shouted into the air as he walked off the field.

The No. 17 Huskies (2-1) turned a perception upside down.

Told by oddsmakers they would lose by 14, they won by 18 and broke Miami’s 58-game winning streak at the Orange Bowl.The Hurricanes hadn’t lost here since September of 1985.

Ahead 14-3 at halftime, they appeared to be on their way to another clobber job. With 13 seconds left in the half, UM quarterback Frank Costa had thrown a 51-yard touchdown pass to Yatil Green.

But the Huskies, in a span of about four minutes early in the third quarter, scored 22 points.

“I let the team down,” said cornerback Russell Hairston, beaten badly on Green’s touchdown catch. “I told everyone (at halftime) it was my fault. But that things were going to change.”

They did quickly. Fullback Richard Thomas turned a quick outlet pass into a 75-yard touchdown on the second play of the half.

Forced to drop back deep, quarterback Damon Huard found Thomas floating near the line of scrimmage. Thomas drew the defenders outside, cut inside and was clear to the end zone.

Thomas’ touchdown, teammates said, changed the momentum of the game.

“We planned to run that play in pressure situations,” UW offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick said.

The 75-yard pass was the longest of Huard’s career and the longest against Miami during the 58-game winning streak.

Three plays into Miami’s next drive, Hairston made up for the past, returning an interception 34 yards for a touchdown after Costa’s intended receiver, Jammi German, slipped and fell.

Then, after recovering a fumble on the kickoff, the Huskies scored, but not before fumbling, themselves.

Huard almost took it in from 7 yards out, but lost the ball two yards from the goal line. In a frenzied scramble, backup tackle Bob Sapp recovered the ball and pulled it into the end zone. Referees investigated for several seconds before declaring the touchdown.

“It was crazy,” Sapp said.

The game was as quirky as any played at the Orange Bowl.

No one Husky’s statistics were spectacular, yet the Huskies scored more points than they had in their past nine games, dating back to last season. Miami outgained Washington (369-338) and had more first downs (21-16). But the Huskies were better when it counted. With Huard hitting crucial pass after crucial pass, the Huskies converted 12 of 19 third downs. Miami converted four of 12.

Mark Bruener caught five passes for 42 yards, all for first downs.

“That’s my job,” Bruener stated simply.

Though Miami contained tailback Napoleon Kaufman, the Heisman candidate still gained 80 yards, enough to make him Washington’s all-time rushing leader with 3,094 carer yards.

Though the weather – 86 degrees and humid – was supposed to favor Miami, it was the Huskies who looked more physical, more punishing. By the fourth quarter the Hurricanes were on their knees between plays, with their lips stuck on water bottles. Several spent significant time on the ground. That just gave the Huskies more time to catch their breath.

And because of a Miami mixup on the coin toss, Washington got the ball to start both halves.

The Huskies did not have a perfect game. Their defensive backs were beaten several times. Huard and Kaufman collided on a handoff.

And Huard bungled a pitch to Kaufman in the first quarter.

But in the end, the Huskies hit harder and came up with more big plays.

It was Huard who said last week that people would talk about this game forever if the Huskies won. The first person Huard heard from after the game was his younger brother Brock, a coveted quarterback who is being recruited by Washington.

As Brock congratulated his older brother on television, Damon said, “Thanks Brock, and remember it’s great to be a Husky.”




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