Pigskin Flashback: '82 Stanford-UW game

It was a dark, rainy and wind-swept day, as the #1-ranked and heavily-favored Washington Huskies mushed into town with their unblemished 7-0 record to take on Paul Wiggin and Jim Fassel's record-setting offensive powerhouse featuring leading Heisman Trophy candidate John Elway in his raw, youthful, unforgettable magnificence.

STANFORD 43, WASHINGTON 31
October 30, 1982, Stanford Stadium
[Published originally by The Bootleg®, Vol. I, No.10, 11/5/94]

The 4-3 Card was coming off a win the previous week over the Washington State Cougars (31-26) in which All-Pac-10 free safety and current Card defensive backfield coach Vaughn Williams made an incredible 20 bone-jarring tackles! It had been a confusing season to that point with exciting, impressive wins over Ohio State and Purdue, but with a painful loss to lowly San Jose State (coached by Elway's father, Jack, who would later coach the Card). The national media was swarming around Palo Alto prior to the highly-anticipated contest and ABC TV flew in its crack #1 crew of Keith Jackson and Frank Broyles for a game that would be broadcast across the entire country.

Game Day: The gray skies had poured rain down upon the field all morning, but somehow you knew something special was going to happen on this day when smack in the middle of the LSJUMB's incomparable version of The Star Spangled Banner, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds to the mighty roar of the crowd. However, minutes later, it looked like it would indeed be a long day for the struggling Red & White as senior Vincent White coughed up a fumble on Stanford's very first play from scrimmage after an impressive bust up the gut of the Washington defense. The Dawgs scored shortly thereafter as future All-Pac-10 RB (and local San Jose-product) Jacque Robinson knifed through for a 13-yd TD. While the Husky band belted out Kool & The Gang's "Celebration", All-American place-kicker Chuck Nelson booted his 55th consecutive PAT through the uprights for a 7-0 lead for the bad guys. After a Kenny Williams kick return, Elway's first pass was picked off. Two plays, two brutal turnovers. The soggy stadium crowd settled in for a long day (even in 1982, fans tended to give up at the first sign of challenge or adversity). In the broadcast booth, ABC officials, fearing a blow-out, were already scrambling to see to which game they could switch in the second half! But then a name emerged that would strike fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks for years to come. Sophomore defensive end Garin Veris, the pride of Chillicothe, OH, a 6'6", 250-pound package of pure, unadulterated athletic supremacy! (Actually he was 6'4 3/4", but he sure looked bigger!) A three-sport high school legend, #80 could reverse-dunk a basketball (Kentucky offered him a full-ride basketball scholarship), was a record-setting champion ski-racer (indoor), and was one on the scariest volleyball players ever to set a big foot on Cardinal sand! ABC's colorman Frank Broyles exclaimed in his thick southern drawl that he had never seen anyone that big with feet as quick as Garin's. Veris repeatedly ran down Huskie QB Steve Pelluer, who had excellent 4.7 speed. [Pelluer's younger brother Arnie would later strap it on for the Cardinal and White in the late '80s]. Capitalizing on a sweet pick-off by outside linebacker Kevin Bates (now with Sharp Development in Palo Alto) mid-way through the first quarter, Elway took an eleven-step drop and launched a 35-yard strike over Husky cornerback Ray Horton, hitting seldom-used wide-out Steve "Skip Town" Brown. Brown somehow managed to stay inbounds for a spectacular touchdown (the highlight of his career) and brought the game to 7-7, as Mark Harmon "banged the extra" (old movie industry term) for his 56th consecutive PAT and the Melodic Menace of Mayfield (LSJUMB) rocked the stands with Santana's "Well All Right"! (For you Shady-Siders, that was "wild, renegade rock & roll". For you 90's grunge/modern-rockers, that sportin' little ditty can be found under what is now known affectionately as "classic rock"). While we're on the subject of Elway, please forgive us a short venture into unabashed hero-worship: Take nothing away from Stenstrom, Plunkett, Paye, Schonert, Dils, Benjamin, Boryla, or Bunce (we made the editorial decision to include only the "Passing Era" in our comparables here, so please don't write in with complaints about our glaring omission of Albert, Garrett, Kerkorian, Norman, Berg, Brodie, etc.), but if you never actually saw John Elway play quarterback in a college football game, you never experienced the adrenaline rush, the physiological reaction that came from having a scary lethal weapon at your offensive disposal! When the straw-haired, pigeon-toed #7 dropped back to pass, you held your breath, your heart rate soared, your cheeks flushed, and yes people it WAS better than you-know-what! No one was ever more clutch. No one ever felt the rush with such clairvoyance. No one ever threw harder. No one ever inspired such awe from his own teammates. Starting OG Matt Moran, who's now with William Wilson & Associates and is a father of three growing boys (read: potential Card recruits), described to The Bootleg what it was like to be in a huddle with the living legend: "His eyes. You just knew you were going to score! He'd say 'You give me the time, we'll march right down the field and score!' We'd just believe him, and we would just.... score".

The '82 Dollies, one of the finest editions ever to dance the Donner Street Party, were looking good in their white gloves, white boots and big orange "Uncle Crawford Loves ABC" buttons! No one seems to recall exactly what the deal was with those buttons! Anyone out there want to fill us in? Whatever they were, the Dollies owned the cameras that day. In the PC 1990's, now that fun has been outlawed, the networks would never get away with such a wealth of "gratuitous Dollie-shots"!

So anyway, back to our story: The Card could manage but two first downs in the first quarter as Elway tried to find his rhythm (at one point he was a mere 4 for 12 with 84 yards). Still, after one unbelievable scramble for a first down, the student body commenced with what had long before become a tradition of somewhat blasphemous (yet well-intentioned) expression of admiration, a symbolic gesture of deification: The students literally "bowed" en masse to the seemingly "other-worldly" Elway. The Canines struck back quickly to take a 14-7 lead on an 8-yard TD run early in the second quarter and extended their lead to 17-7 on Chuck Nelson's 26th consecutive successful field goal (which made him an absolutely incredible 21-21 on the year!). Many fair-weather Shady-Siders and faithless students began making plans for an early exodus, but then suddenly the irrepressible RB Mike Dotterer, who the week prior had shredded WSU for 155 yards, caught the Huskies red-handed on a safety blitz. "Dot" took advantage of a terrific block by FB Kaulana Park (filling in for injured Rob Moore and banged-up Greg Hooper) and bolted straight up the middle for a 46-yard TD to close the gap to 17-14. On the next possession, Elway threw to TE Chris "Left Hook" Dressel [Chris would go on to be a long-time NFL veteran with the Oilers, Jets, etc. and would eventually become a well-known slumlord], who busted a move or two and broke several tackles on a 15-yard gain. After another 15 yards on a slant to Dressel, who according to Broyles had "glue for hands", Mike Dotterer barrelled over from 1 yard out and the Cardinal took the lead 21-17 as the LSJUMB cranked out a spirited rendition of the now rarely-heard William Tell Overture. The Huskies went "three & out" as the aggressive Cardinal "D" began taking control. With back-up QB Steve Cottrell holding, Harmon drilled a 45-yarder with four seconds left in the first half to put us up 24-17. In the first 30 minutes, we outgained UW 279-150!

After a riveting performance by the always popular frisbee-dogs during the half-time show and an enthusiastic version of old-time Shady-Sider favorite "The Cardinal is Waving" by the LSJUMB, the unstoppable Veris opened the second half by burying his helmet into Pelluer's back, causing a fumble recovered by defensive end Don Stubblefield. Elway was just warming up. He began taking the shell-shocked Washington zone defense to school, finding Dressel on a 40-yard pass and run, followed by an 18-yard touchdown bullet to flanker Emile "Dirty" Harry to make it 31-17, Elway's ninth completion in a row. The offensive line was holding a pass-blocking clinic, with great performances by Moran, T Jeff Deaton (now a father of two and working in Palo Alto with Alhouse-King Realty), C Mike Teeuws (Intrinsic Ventures), G Chris Rose Siebel Systems, and T Dennis Engel. No sooner had stadium announcing legend Ed McCauley recapped the scoring play when DB Kevin Baird came through with a key INT on the Huskies' next drive. The cruising Cardinal "O" made Washington pay as "VW" followed a phenomenal trap-block from Moran and popped for 15 yards to the Husky 3. White scored on the next play to stretch the lead to 37-17 and "Whoa Nellie!", somebody's #1 ranking was in really big trouble! Through Q3, Elway & Co. had rolled up 417 yards vs. the nation's 7th-ranked defense. But the Huskies came barking back! Facing 4th and 17 after game MVP and "Mountain of a Man" Veris' third sack of the day, and a pass breakup by Vaughn Williams, the gritty Washington slinger Pelluer connected with his TE Lutu on a 17-yard TD, cutting the lead to 37-24. UW immediately mounted another threat, but LB Gary Wimmer) snared an interception to quiet the Husky fans with their ridiculous Dawg-head hats. Each team stalled on the next series, but following a towering 56-yard punt by Jeff Partridge to the Stanford 24, 5'6" Vinnie "The Love Bug" White, affectionately known to teammates as "VW" [Vee-Dub] and one of our all-time favorite personalities, gave us a special gift to share with our grandchildren..... a punt return for the ages! Catching the ball on the western hashmark, #22 headed "northbound"; an initial wicked head fake made Aaron Williams miss, and VW headed right; a second juke took another Huskie out of his jock as Vinnie swept around the Eastern sideline; stutter-stepping Partridge into the seats at mid-field, he cut back, making three defenders miss; angling back across the grass he left two more would-be tacklers in the dirt and outran a desperate, but futile pursuit from one last Dawg for the 76-yard human highlight film, Stanford's first punt return for a TD in seven years. Vintage Vinnie! Never broke a tackle, he simply made EIGHT guys miss! An all-time, heart-stoppin', joy-ridden thriller that put the nail in the Washington coffin. Watching it 12 years later, you still jump out of your seat. Broyles: "Ah don't believe ah've seen one bettah!" After a garbage TD by UW, SS Charles Hutchings picked off Pelluer and the victorious home team stormed off the field with stirring, unbridled enthusiasm while a delirious, raging crowd went totally nuts! A young, scruffy-lookin' Fred Von Appen (D-line coach at the time) gave Wiggin a monster bear hug! What a game, what a party! The pass-happy student section was still buzzing big-time and the Incomparables were still blaring out "All Right Now" when all of a sudden, in a very rare, emotional showing, the entire football team came roaring back out of the jubilant locker room and partied down with the red-vested Bandies and the wildly-celebrating fans! The Goose was hoppin' that night!


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