5 memorable, 5 miserable WSU moments at Joe Albi Stadium

THE COUGARS will be at Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium on Saturday for their annual spring game. For the crimson faithful around in the '50s, '60s, '70s and early '80s, Albi represents more than just a sports venue. The place is packed full of WSU memories. Here are 10 – five mesmerizing and five miserable – that stand out most in the minds of Cougfan.com.


1. Nov. 23, 1968
Third-string Cougar senior quarterback Hank Grenda gets the Apple Cup start (pictured above) on a "hunch" by first-year head coach Jim Sweeney. The tall Canadian threw for two TDs, ran for a third, kicked a field goal and booted three PATs. He also punted. When it was over, 31,000-plus in Albi were nearly as stunned as the Washington Huskies. WSU won the game 24-0 and Grenda scored every point on the board.

2. Oct. 30, 1971
The two best backs on the West Coast, WSU's Bernard Jackson and Oregon's Bobby Moore (i.e. Ahmad Rashad), as well as two of the West's best quarterbacks, Cougar Ty Paine and Duck Dan Fouts, squared off in a wild one that saw Jackson rush for a whopping 261 yards and race 46 yards with a fake punt for the game-winning TD. The Cougars won 31-21.

3. Nov. 18, 1972
Down 10-3 in the third quarter, the No. 20-ranked Cougars rallied and romped the rest of the way to defeat No. 17 Washington, 27-10. The game is known for Gary Larsen's celebration sacks of Sonny Sixkiller, but the real story was the Cougar defense, led by Eric Johnson's three interceptions, and a Cougar offense that triple-optioned its way to 183 rushing yards and two Ty Paine TDs. Stat of the day: The teams combined for 13 fumbles, of which the Dawgs lost five and the Cougs two. WSU finished third in the conference behind USC and UCLA and No. 17 in the nation. This was all-conference lineman Bill Moos' last game in crimson.

4. Sept. 23, 1978
Arizona State, a vaunted program in those days under Frank Kush, was new to the Pac-10 and Sparky's first game in the league was against the Cougs at Albi. The Sun Devils were heavily favored, but WSU firebombed them, 51-26. A tremendous goal-line stand by the George Yarno-led Cougar D in the first quarter set the tone. And quarterback Jack Thompson cemented his legend as the fabled Throwin' Samoan with a conference-record six touchdowns – three passing and three rushing. The Associated Press and Sports Illustrated named him national player of the week.

5. Nov. 14,1981
The No.17-ranked Cougars hosted Cal at Albi in the second-to-last game of the regular season. The stakes were high – and so were the winds. Gusts reached 53 mph at one point, triggering a Cal punt that went for minus yardage. A Cougar win would be their eighth of the season – the most by a WSU team since 1930 – and it would set up a winner-to-the-Rose-Bowl-showdown with Washington the following week in Seattle. The Cougs didn't play especially well, but they didn't disappoint, winning 19-0. Tim Harris rushed for 103 yards and the defense harassed Cal quarterback J Torchio relentlessly. The headline in the Spokane Chronicle the next day read "Cougs smell Roses."


1. Nov. 25, 1950
A few hours before the newly built Memorial Stadium (renamed Albi in 1962) would be officially dedicated with a showdown between the Cougars and Huskies, tragedy struck. Former U.S. Senator C.C. Dill came upon a parked car near the stadium, it's engine running and heater on. Inside were three unconscious young men. Two were revived quickly, but the exhaust fumes proved fatal to the third. It was Robert Torgeson, the younger brother of WSU's star senior linebacker Torgy Torgeson. Robert, a sophomore on the Cougar basketball team, and two classmates had driven to Spokane late Friday but their lodging plans fell through so they decided to sleep in the car near the stadium in order to get good seats for the big game. WSU lost 52-21.

2. Sept. 17, 1966
The season opener brought Cal to Albi and the Cougs lost in bizarre fashion. The Bear offense did virtually nothing the entire day, but Cal won 21-6 by returning a punt for a TD, returning an interception for a TD and, believe it or not, returning a missed Cougar field goal attempt 108 yards for another TD.

3. Oct. 17, 1970
Depending on your point of view, this one could also go into the "mesmerizing" category. Powerhouse Stanford stopped in Spokane en route to what would be the first of its two straight Rose Bowl wins. Quarterback Jim Plunkett had a nice day, but most of Stanford's attack was on the ground. Well into their 63-point onslaught, back Eric Cross took a handoff at the 25 and was cruising to the end zone when Terry Smith, a Vietnam vet and WSU sophomore from Richland, jumped out of the stands and tackled him at about the 2. Cross remained stunned on the turf, while Smith headed toward the bleachers before being intercepted by police. Fans roared their approval of Smith and started passing the hat to raise his bail. The escapade made the The Paul Harvey Show. Stanford coach John Ralston called the tackle "the toughest hit all day."

4. Nov. 7, 1970
The Cougs would win just one game in 1970 and for the second straight year they'd be winless in conference play. Adding insult to injury was the fact USC coach John McKay made no secret of the fact he thought it was beneath the Trojans to travel north to play the Cougs. They hadn't made the trek to Eastern Washington since 1958, he insisted, so why start now? He was mad as a hornet about it. The Cougs scored 33, but McKay ran his side of the board up to 70 -- and he was still ticked off afterward that his team (apparently too delicate for the flight) had to come God's Country. Rat bastard.

5. Nov. 23, 1974
The Cougars had routed the Huskies the year before in Seattle and looked to be at least a wee bit better again in '74 but the start of the game was calamitous. Two quick Cougar turnovers gave the Huskies a 10-0 lead almost before the clock had started. The Cougars stormed back and were driving for what would be the tying TD but lost a fumble on the Husky 10 with 25 seconds left. Denny Fitzpatrick, the Huskies' senior quarterback who had played his high school ball at Albi, rushed for 249 yards. Dan Eagle, a Cougar booster, handed out buttons at the Cougar Club luncheon the following Monday that read Cougars 17, Huskies 14, Santa Claus 10.

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