Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flashback to 2000 senior against UCLA

By Kshell

Every year in November is a special time of the year especially for the Seniors. We will be experiencing this later today when the Husky fans say good bye to Jake Locker and the rest of this Senior class. Well I'll be talking about another Senior night which featured a Huskies big time quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. The Huskies were off to a great season in 2000 heading into this game with a 8-1(5-1) record. The Huskies were facing the one team this senior class had never defeated and who knocked them out of last years Rose Bowl the UCLA Bruins. Rick Neuheisel who was Rose Bowl MVP for the Bruins back in the 1980's was now head coach at Washington and wanted to exact some revenge.

November 11th, 2000: UCLA Bruins(6-3,3-3) at #7 Washington Huskies(8-1,5-1)

For this game on Senior night would be a family affair for us. Not only would my dad be going with me but so would my brother(who knows goes to WSU), my grandpa, my uncle, my uncles daughter and my uncles friend who is now a head wrestling coach. We were all sitting together and it was great. I was a freshman in high school at the time who had just completed my freshman football season and was about to try Wrestling for the first time(one of my better decisions in life). This was also the coldest game I had ever gone to as it was a night game on primetime for ABC.

The Senior introductions was pretty cool and the crowd was loud but they had forgotton someone and he was pretty important. They didn't name Tuiasosopo then I remember Huskies PA announcer Lou Gellerman saying "Last but certainly not least lets hear a big roar dawg fans for Marques Tuiasosopo". The crowd was going crazy as the student body section was waving the white hankies and it was a great site to see. The picture I have above is of Tuiasosopo and the offensive lineman seniors including Matt Rogers of American Idol. That picture I got from Derek Johnson who wrote Dawgs of War.

Then the game began and the Huskies were usually slow starters came out early and jumped on UCLA. Tuiasosopo in my endzone hit Jerramy Stevens for a 13 yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead. The Huskies would respond with another touchdown by Willie Hurst from three yards out to give the Huskies a 14-0 lead. As it was with every game that year minus the Apple Cup it wouldn't be a Husky game without some drama.

The Bruins would respond by scoring 21 unanswered points first by Corey Paus hitting Ieremia-Stansbury for a five yard touchdown pass to cut the lead 14-7 heading into the second quarter. Then in the second quarter the Huskies offense would do nothing and Deshaun Foster who would torch them in 2001 ran for two touchdowns to give the Bruins a 21-14 lead at halftime.

At halftime as I was sitting their freezing along with my little brother I sitting there thinking here we go again. UCLA ended our Rose Bowl hopes in 1999, won on Senior night in 1998, destroyed our Rose Bowl hopes in 1997 and ruined our National Championship hopes in 1990 which was also on Senior night. I was hoping the Huskies could pull off that second half magic which they had done the entire year.

In the second half the Huskies pounded the rock down UCLA's throat. In a game which saw the Huskies hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes the Huskies big senior offensive line controlled the game. The Huskies senior fullback Pat Conniff would score touchdown runs of four yards then five yards out to give the Huskies a 28-21 lead. Then on the third drive of the quarter Tuiasosopo would hit Todd Elstrom for a two yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies a rare lead heading into the fourth up 35-21.

In the fourth quarter UCLA would make the game interesting when Paus would connect with James Poli-Dixon from seven yards out with under two minutes to go to cut the lead to 35-28. UCLA attempted to onside kick the ball and I noticed #11 on the hands teams. Yes Neuheisel had his quarterback on the field because like he explained after the game Tuiasosopo is the guy he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. The Huskies recovered the ball and won 35-28 in front of 71,886 roaring fans. The Huskies went 6-0 that year at home in front of 70,000+ every game. The Huskies had improved to 9-1(6-1) and would wait to see if Oregon State could knock off Oregon the following week if they can go to the Rose Bowl.

The Huskies like I said pounded the ball on UCLA. Freshman Rich Alexis carried the ball 21 times for 127 yards, Willie Hurst 11 for 99 and a touchdown, Tuiasosopo would rush for 69 yards on 16 carries, Cleman would run for 29 yards on six carries and Conniff would add 27 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. When it was all said and done the Huskies ran the ball 64 times for 349 yards. They simply played old school Husky football and remember Neuheisel was the coach despite what some people will tell you. Tuiasosopo passing was 12 for 19 for 111 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

After the game we turned on the radio to hear the Sonics had gotton destroyed. My grandpa said they need to fire Paul Westphal and they did the following week for Nate McMillan. It was a fun game as the Huskies won on Senior night and I got to enjoy it with most of my family. My cousin(uncles daughter) even made it on the big screen which made me so jealous as I was literally sitting two or three people from her. This would also be the last game my grandpa would see in person of the Huskies. Due to his health he couldn't make it to any more games at Husky Stadium. He would pass away in 2004 but this is a memory I'm glad I got to share with him forever. My uncle also passed away in 2008 who was at that game and this game has even more meaning to me looking back.

All in all those were the days. Back when my family would all gather around during Husky football season expecting to win and witnessing victories. Back when we would talk Rose Bowls and not be dreaming. Those days I realize are gone as some of my family members have moved on and Husky football is a shell of what it used to be. I'm afraid my future childrens generation will miss out on the Husky football I grew up on which was Rose Bowl or bust. I sure hope not. If that is the case I'll have to educate them and talk about this game which involved so many family members of mine.

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