Apple Cup hangover

Talk about overzealous. As the touchdown for the ages was about to transpire, I was positioned along the back of the west end zone. Chris Fetters was standing to my right and former UW coach Jim Lambright was to my left.

On the field, Washington QB Cody Pickett dropped to pass, pumped faked toward Reggie Williams to his near right, then launched a gorgeous pass to freshman receiver Corey Williams who was zipping down the sideline toward the end zone. A Cougar defensive back dove laterally and barely missed knocking the ball away. Instead, the diving Husky receiver cradled it in his arms, as he sprawled across the goal line and into the end zone for the critical six points. To the disbelief of all, Washington suddenly had the lead. This is where I goofed.

The stadium's capacity crowd was going bonkers. A giant pig pile was taking place with Husky players diving all over Corey Williams. Fetters and I were slugging each other fanatically on the back, the pig pile of Dawgs occurring just in front of us.

Still looking to celebrate, I turned searching for someone else to grab. Lambright was still standing right there. I proceeded to maul him with a bear hug while yelling unintelligibly. He turned his head sideways and gave me a bewildered look that seemed to say, "Son, just what the hell are you doing?"

It was my worst game day gaffe since I accidentally head-butted my sister Jennifer at the 2001 Michigan game (following Roc Alexander's return of a blocked field goal for a TD).

But Lambo was much more forgiving than Jennifer, luckily.

It was an inexplicably wonderful game that made no sense whatsoever, especially contrasted with last week's abomination in Berkeley. I am not even going to try to analyze it. So I will go at it with a different approach…

My Dad has only missed one home game since 1957. I have attended games since I practically learned how to walk. Over that stretch of years, we have had countless occasions to walk back to the car after seeing the Huskies play. We have had the good fortune of many upbeat moments following victories. We have also had some numbing, quiet trudges to the north parking lot after witnessing gridiron disaster. For some perspective, here is a quick list of our top 5 worst experiences watching the Huskies play football. This list will not include games that devastated my Dad, like the 1960 loss to Navy. (He still brings up this loss a couple of times a year, but it occurred well before I was born.)

1. 1995 - Oregon 24, Washington 22

The Huskies missed two easy field goals within the final 3:30 of the game. My Dad and I "had" to give two visiting friends of ours a ride back to the Eastside. These good friends were Duck fans, who behaved very classily, I might add. However, it is safe to say that my Dad was "stressed". Not to over-dramatize, but this game took about 25 years off of my life.

2. 2003 – California 54, Washington 7

A game in which the Huskies never led, never blitzed, never exerted any effort and laid an embarrassing egg. My Dad and I are both reasonable, intelligent people with a grasp of the big picture of life. Yet, it took both of us two full days to recover psychologically.

3. 1985 - Oregon State 21, Washington 20

A horrible loss that OSU alumni last year voted the #1 Beaver victory of all time; even greater than their win over #1 USC in 1967 and their 41-9 dismantling of Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. I thought I was pretty much over this years ago, that is until Hugh Millen started talking about it on the radio a few weeks ago. The mental scab has been torn off and it's bleeding again. I can still hear that horrible "THUMP" that occurred when OSU blocked that punt.

4. 2003 - Nevada 28, Washington 17

A game in which the Huskies never led, never blitzed, never exerted any effort and laid an embarrassing egg. My Dad and I are both reasonable, intelligent people with a grasp of the big picture of life. Yet, it took both of us two full days to recover psychologically.

5. 2003 – Arizona 27, Washington 22

A game in which the Huskies never led, never blitzed, never exerted any effort and laid an embarrassing egg. My Dad and I are both reasonable, intelligent people with a grasp of the big picture of life. Yet, it took both of us two full days to recover psychologically.

(Honorable Mention: 1994 vs. Oregon; 1997 vs. Oregon; 2001 vs. Miami; 1982 vs. WSU; 1993 vs. Arizona; 1986 vs. Arizona State; 1988 vs. Arizona; 1983 vs. LSU; 1996 vs. Notre Dame)

So following the never ending summer of 2003, and in light of the legal warfare between Neuheisel and the University that will continue for quite some time, this past year has been a real downer.

Everybody involved with Husky football needed the win over WSU more than we probably realize. With it came finally some reward, and it planted seeds of hope for next year.

All eyes will be on Gilby in February to see how he recruits.
Derek Johnson can be reached at uwsundodger@msn.com

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