Two-minute flashback: Cougs vs. Ducks, 1958

LONG BEFORE Sports Illustrated ever dubbed Washington State "Quarterback U," Cougar coach Jim "Suds" Sutherland was laying the foundation for 50 years of passing excellence at Ol' Wazzu. In fact, his most adept pupil, Bobby Newman, led the nation in passing in 1957 and held that same position going into game five of the '58 season, as the Cougs faced the Oregon Ducks.


"Bobby was always cool under fire,"  teammate Chuck Morrell told in an interview several years ago. "I never once saw him hurried or rattled."


But Morrell and fellow Crimson Soldiers Keith Lincoln and Bill Steiger would have to shoulder much of the burden against Len Casanova's Ducks themselves. Newman went down in the first half, aggravating his already injured knee, but not before plunging over from the one-foot line to give the Cougs a 6-0 lead, and the games only score.


Thanks to some clock-eating ground yards by backs Morrell and Lincoln, and some big plays on defense by Steiger, the 18,500 homecoming fans at rain-soaked Hayward Field in Eugene witnessed their heavily favored Ducks get shut out.


"It was a perfect day for football," recalled Morrell, who died within this past year. "Cold and rainy, had a lot of fun sliding around in that mud."


Morrell, who also starred as a linebacker, lead all rushers with 77 yards on 18 carries and was described by one reporter as being "a human battering-ram who wrecked Oregon's usually strong defense." Following the '58 campaign, he was rewarded with first team honors on both the all-Coast and Pacific conference team.


The game's unsung hero honors went to Cougar QB Geoff Price who, filling in for Newman, didn't take the offense to pay dirt, but kept the chains and clock moving.


"Geoff played very well," Morrell said. "He kept the ball rolling and didn't turn it over."


Price is the older brother of former Washington State coach Mike Price.


There's an interesting footnote to this game that speaks volumes on the genuine sportsmanship of that era: Following the contest, the Cougars discovered their flight could not depart due to a heavy Eugene fog. Upon learning of this, Casanova – who, remember, had just lost a heartbreaker - - rounded up three or four members of his staff and was at the airport within 30 minutes. They stayed and visited with Crimson players and coaches until the flight was cleared to depart…nearly four hours later! 

But the Cougars expected nothing less from Casanova, and for good reason. Following their 14-13 victory over Washington State in 1957 - - a game lost when Newman's game-tying extra point hit the goalpost - - the Oregon coach immediately sought out the distraught player in the Cougar locker room to express how badly he felt for him; pointing out that the exact same thing had happened to him as a player.

For more on Chuck Morrell, read 

from the CF.C archives. A great look at Chuck's remarkable life.


For more information on this and other glorious eras of Cougar Athletics, be sure to read Richard Fry's wonderful book, "The Crimson and the Gray," also known in these parts as the "CF.C Bible."




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