Christmas Day the Victor Wood way in 1988

STEVE BROUSSARD rushed for 139 yards behind the road-grading work of Mike Utley and John Husby. Timm Rosenbach threw for 306 yards -- 120 of which were caught by Tim Stallworth. Tuineau Alipate teamed with Artie Holmes for a game-saving defensive play. And a future Heisman winner was leading the other team. But it was 5-foot-10, 162-pound Victor Wood who stole the show on Christmas Day in 1988.

The Aloha Bowl that year featured two species of Cougars -- Washington State and Houston -- and two touted quarterbacks, WSU's Rosenbach and Houston's Andre Ware.

But it was the diminutive Wood, a senior receiver and return man out of Seattle's Franklin High, who captured headlines.

While Wood collected a head-turning 228 all-purpose yards in WSU's dramatic 24-22 victory, it was his instantaneous impact that had the ABC-TV broadcast team of Keith "Mele Kalikimaka" Jackson and Lynn Swann talking superlatives.


In the span of five minutes on that Christmas Day in Honolulu, Wood put the Cougars on the path to victory.

With Houston leading 3-0, WSU marched to the Houston five following a Vernon Todd interception of Ware. And then the Cougar Nation lost its collective breath on a bobbled hand off between Rosenbach and Broussard. The ball was on the ground -- and suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, Wood grabbed it up and darted into the end zone to put the Cougs up 7-3.

Exactly five minutes later, Wood capped an 80-yard Cougar drive with a 15-yard TD reception from Rosenbach to put the Cougs up 14-3. In all that day, Woods caught 48 yards worth of passes, racked up 52 yards in punt returns, "rushed" the one time for five yards, and collected 123 yards on kickoff returns.

Woods' work lit a crimson fire. The Cougs scored 10 more points in that second quarter -- on a Jason Hanson field goal and one-yard run by Rosenbach -- and went into halftime leading 24-10.

But the Cougs wouldn't score again, and as Houston drove deep into Cougar territory in the waning minutes of the game the outlook was dark. That's when Alipate crushed Houston receiver James Dixon, forcing a fumble at the WSU 5-yard-line that Holmes recovered. The Cougs then ran out the clock, with the eighth and final pass-and-catch of the day between Rosenbach and Stallworth securing a critical first down.

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