Husky Re-Wind: December 22, 1979

In 1979, Washington had a pretty successful year at 8-3, and was rewarded with a trip to the Sun Bowl. Since their 1978 Rose Bowl win over Michigan, the Huskies hadn't been able to win another big game that would show they were truly an upper tier team in the conference.

The 1978 season saw home heartbreakers against UCLA and Alabama, and USC hammered the Dawgs in the Coliseum. Top-10 Pittsburgh visited Seattle in '79 and left winners, while USC stuffed Washington twice in the red zone to ensure a 7 point win in another heartbreaking loss.

The Dawgs needed a win in El Paso to establish themselves and to prove that their Rose Bowl appearance from 1978 was not a fluke.

Their opponent, the Texas Longhorns, weren't too excited to be playing in this game. They'd been here the year before, and destroyed Maryland 42-0. The Horns were 9-1, going into their traditional rivalry game against Texas A&M, but their Cotton Bowl and national championship dreams were shattered by the Aggies in an upset win. Therefore Texas had to settle for playing in El Paso for the holiday season again. With players like All-American defensive tackle Steve McMichael, they would prove to be a tough opponent for the Huskies.

Texas coach Fred Akers decided to put his defense on the field first, and he looked like a MENSA member after the Huskies went three and out. Rich Camarillo punted to star UT returner Johnnie Johnson, who returned the punt 15 yards to the Texas 37 and the Longhorns started their high-powered engine.

The Huskies gave up no long runs, but they just couldn't stop the powerful Texas veer option attack. Speedy UT quarterback Donnie Little and rugged wishbone backs Brad Beck and Leroy King converted three straight third downs for Texas, taking the ball all the way to the Washington nine-yard line.

The Husky defense stiffened. After giving up five yards to running back Daryl Clark on first down, they only gave up three more yards on second and third down, forcing a fourth and goal situation on the one. Texas decided to go for it.

The Longhorns ran a veer option right, and Little was forced to keep it after Mark Lee stayed right on the pitch man. Greg Grimes smashed into Little at the one and would not let him in the end zone. After a 16-play drive that took 8 minutes, Texas was denied. The Huskies averted an early hole.

After the Huskies' offense was held to another 3 and out series, the defense came up big again. Donnie Little hurt his foot on the next drive. Enter backup quarterback Rick McIvor, who was a better passer than Little. On 3rd and 13, Greg Grimes blitzed and Doug Martin followed him after getting off a block. Martin stripped McIvor at the Texas 43, and Jim Pence recovered the loose ball. The Husky offense had good field position for the first time in the game.

The Husky offense finally recovered from their Juarez hangover. Tom Flick found Paul Skansi for 11 yards to move the chains, and an 11-yard run by Vince Coby gave the Huskies a second 1st down at the UT 11 yard line. After getting stuffed on two plays, Paul Skansi ran a post corner route that took him to the right edge of the Texas end zone. Tom Flick lofted a perfect pass to the freshman from Gig Harbor and Skansi made the diving catch to give Washington a 7-0 second quarter lead.

It wouldn't be long before Washington added to the lead. On 2nd and 7 at the Longhorn 23, McIvor made a poor option pitch. Greg Grimes was there again to grab it for the Huskies. From there, a freshman tailback from Texas named Willie Ray Mackey entered the game for Washington. On a 2nd and 7 from the Texas 20, he showed his speed on a toss sweep right, bursting through a hole then hurdling over a tackler. Then on 3rd and goal from the 3, he showed his power as he took a sprint draw and went into the end zone. Washington was up suddenly 14-0, and had all momentum going their way.

That short glimpse of glory would turn out to be the duration of Mackey's career at Washington. He would never play again for the Huskies, getting homesick and transferring out of Seattle.

Texas recovered a Husky fumble on their own 44 and went on a smash-mouth drive. They ground it out slowly, but surely, and wound up in a Little touchdown pitch to Brad Beck that cut the Husky lead to 14-7. 14-7.

With Texas seizing the momentum, it looked like they might tie the score at 14 after Tom Flick's pass was deflected and then picked off by a diving Johnnie Johnson at the Husky 38. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the emotional Dawgs moved the ball down to the Washington 22. Then Doug Martin came up huge and sacked Little for an 8-yard loss. Martin would plow into the backfield again and force Little to intentionally ground the ball, effectively killing the drive. The half ended at 14-7.

Texas went on another long march that ate up the third quarter clock. On 3rd and 6 from the UW 46, Donnie Little scrambled for five yards, leaving UT with a 4th and 1 situation. Fred Akers rolled the dice, and the Longhorns were successful on the conversion as Daryl Clark ran for 3 yards. On the next play, Texas turned the ball over for the third time as Jerry McLain knocked the ball out of Brad Beck's hands with a vicious tackle. Doug Martin recovered for the Dawgs on the UW 38, and the Husky defense once again saved the day.

The two teams exchanged punts again at the beginning of the fourth quarter, giving Texas the ball on their own 43-yard line. After a holding penalty moved Texas back to their 30, the Dawgs defense showed their teeth again. Husky safety Derek Harvey stepped up and intercepted McIvor at the UW 34-yard line to kill yet another UT drive.
,br> As the fourth quarter ticked away, Don James kept the Husky offense on the field on a fourth and short-yardage situation. Flick went with a hard cadence, trying to draw Texas offsides. Texas did jump but the officials decided that Husky tight end David Bayle's motion was not legal and had drawn the Longhorns over the line. Camarillo was summoned to punt after all.

The two teams exchanged punts and Texas had the ball for one last chance to tie or win at the UW 45 with 3:01 to play.

Texas moved the ball to the UW 32 for a first down, but Washington's front seven had been stellar all game and weren't about to let down. Longhorn quarterbacks Little and McIvor were harassed all day by Stafford Mays, Doug Martin, Chris Linnin, Jim Pence, Antowaine Richardson, Bruce Harrell, and Jerry McLain. Now with the Longhorns forced to pass, they turned it up another notch.

On 1st and 10, Doug Martin and Stafford Mays on the line shoved their blockers aside, and quickly closed in on the harried McIvor. Mays got him for a loss of 14 yards, ending up with the Texas quarterback's towel. He waved McIvor's towel right in front of his face, swinging it around like a lasso. On second down, McIvor barely got the ball to his stumbling running back Daryl Clark as Martin hammered the UT quarterback again. Rusty Olsen entered the game for Washington and got in on the pass rush action as his blindside blitz crushed McIvor for a nine yard loss on third down, forcing Texas back to their own 47. On fourth down and 31 yards to go, Antowaine Richardson came around on McIvor's blindside and hit him just as he was getting ready to throw. The ball squirted harmlessly out of bounds and the Huskies had completed a terrific upset win.

Those who saw this game will always remember it for the hitting and tough defense that was on display. In his biography James, Don James said that "A lot of coaches around the country who saw that game requested the film so they could show their players how defense should be played."

The 1979 Sun Bowl was a great way to close out the decade for the Dawgs, and the good times were just beginning. Top Stories