Husky Rewind

In the first 9 games of the 1980 season, Washington was an inconsistent team. They'd played well on the road so far, but there were a couple of strange home collapses to Oregon and Navy. To get back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1977, they were going to have to do something very difficult: beat Southern California in the LA Coliseum, something Washington hadn't done since 1964.

And this was a very good USC team. After their 28-10 loss in Husky Stadium in 1977, the Trojans went 32-1-2 in their next 35 games heading into this one… and for good reason. On offense was the incredibly talented Marcus Allen at tailback. He got to run behind an offensive line that read like a 1980's NFL Pro Bowl roster, with players like Bruce Matthews, Don Mosebar, and Keith Van Horne making it up. Speaking of 1980's Pro Bowl rosters, how about Southern Cal's defensive backs? Joey Browner at one corner spot, with future Titans head coach Jeff Fisher at the other. The two safeties were Dennis Smith and Ronnie Lott.

To stand in there with these talented Trojans, the Huskies needed to play well, have the Trojans struggle, and have some good luck. They got all of that in a strange first half. USC got the ball first, and were able to move the ball some. The Huskies were primed and ready to stop Marcus Allen, so USC crossed them up on the first play by handing the ball to fullback Paul Dilulo, who gained 7 yards on a dive. The future Heisman winning tailback got the needed three, and USC had a first down at their 30.

But the Husky defense stopped them cold there. John Robinson wanted to cross the UW defense up further by now passing the football. Quarterback Gordon Adams never got a chance to throw on first down. Fletcher Jenkins beat his blocker and made Adams hesitate to pass. That gave Jenkins and pal Bret Gagliardi all the time they needed to stuff Adams for a 7 yard sack. After an incompletion and a poor attempt at a draw play on third down when Adams and Allen collided, USC was forced to punt on their first possession.

Ray Horton returned the punt to the USC 47 and the Dawgs wasted no time in getting on the board first. The key play on the drive was a 3rd and 5 play at the USC 42. Paul Skansi lined up as the slot man on the right side, and he ran a shallow drag route to the left. Tom Flick found him, and Skansi made USC linebacker Riki Gray miss on a tackle right close to the first down marker, gaining another five yards. Washington was stopped there, but Chuck Nelson made a 47 yard field goal to tie a career long. The Huskies were up 3-0.

The Husky defense looked like they might dominate, stuffing Marcus Allen for a loss of one on a toss sweep on the next offensive play. Then Allen would show his incredible talent on the very next play. UW had 10 men close to the line of scrimmage, sure that USC would run. They guessed right, and Jerry McClain nearly had Allen for a loss of 4 yards in the backfield. But the slippery tailback got out of the leg tackle, and cut right through the UW defense until Bill Stapleton was able to trip him up at the Husky 36 for a 45 yard gain. USC continued to move the ball until they had a first and goal at the UW 7.

The Husky defense stiffened there. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Gordon Adams' pass was deflected and picked off by Tony Caldwell in the end zone for the big play UW needed to keep the lead. But Caldwell ran out of the endzone, and then back in while trying to return it. Tony was barely able to get back to the one yard line. The Husky offense was able to move the ball some, but a terrific 53 yard punt by Rich Camarillo forced USC to start from their own 9 yard line.

The first quarter ended with a pair of turnovers. Marcus Allen ran for nine yards on first down to the 18. But just like on the first drive, John Robinson went away from a successful running game, and paid for it. Great pass coverage forced Gordon Adams to scramble right. He didn't see DE Scott Garnett closing in from behind, who popped the ball out from Adams' grasp so Mark Jerue could recover for the Huskies at the USC 16.

The Trojans were not made to pay for this turnover, however. Washington got as close as the USC 1 yard line before Willie Rosborough was stripped as he tried to go over the top and get into the endzone. USC recovered at the one yard line. After an exchange of punts, Southern Cal still had poor field position on their 4 yard line. Marcus Allen took care of that singlehandedly, and almost ran for a 95 yard TD on 2nd down. Marcus went on a Student Body Right, and made Ken Gardner miss the tackle. His path was free until the speedy CB Ray Horton caught up with him at the UW 35. Marcus just swatted him away with a stiff arm, and continued into the endzone.

But luckily for UW, Allen had stepped out at the USC 36. Given a reprieve, the Dawg defense made the most of their good fortune. Fullback Paul Dilulo got the ball again; and this time, Mark Stewart stripped him at the USC 40, and Ray Horton recovered the ball at the USC 49. The Huskies couldn't take advantage of the nice field position, as Chuck Nelson missed a 51 yard field goal.

On the last possession of the first half, USC finally got on the scoreboard. With not much time left, Washington figured USC would pass. Not until Marcus Allen gained 31 yards on three carries. An Adams to TE Hoby Brenner pass moved the ball to the UW 18. The Huskies looked like they'd stop the Trojans when Gordon Adams was about to get sacked, but he jumped and flipped the ball to Brenner who was just on his right side. Brenner had wide open field ahead of him, but the Huskies got lucky again as Brenner stumbled down at the 2 without ever getting touched.

Adams found Brenner for the TD pass, but USC was called for illegal motion. Fletcher Jenkins made sure that USC would have to settle for three with an 11 yard sack of Adams on 3rd and goal. USC did get the three points, and the two teams were tied at half, 3-3. USC had a big edge in yardage, due to their 160 rushing yards at the half, Allen having 146 of those. But the key stat was 3 Trojan turnovers. Washington had only one. USC also had only started one offensive possession outside their own 20 yard line. The Huskies were playing solid football. Gordon Adams had been hurt on the last sack. So if UW could get a nice lead, the Trojans might struggle throwing the ball if they were behind late.

Aaron Williams tried to put the Dawgs up immediately. He took the 2nd half kickoff all the way back to the USC 26. But the Trojans held, and Chuck Nelson missed a field goal from 41 yards away. The Husky defense would get tough, too. On 3rd and 4 from the USC 30, Mark Stewart was able to just get enough of the ball on a pass that was headed for Hoby Brenner behind him, that Brenner stumbled and fell backwards. USC was forced to punt.

This time, the Husky special teams would put the Dawgs ahead for good. Ray Horton caught Dave Prior's punt at his own 27 with no Trojans around him. That was a good thing, as Horton initially stumbled and put his hand on the ground to steady himself. There was clear sailing ahead until the 40, allowing Ray to get his speed up. After a key block there, Horton rushed left towards the USC bench. Only the punter could stop him now. Horton made one last little move straight towards the sideline, which was enough to get out of Prior's shoestring tackle attempt. The Dawgs had a touchdown and a 10-3 lead with 11:51 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Dawgs would increase their lead quickly. Tony Caldwell read backup QB Scott Tinsley's eyes, and got in front of Hoby Brenner for an interception that he returned to the USC 43. Tom Flick passes to Aaron Williams and David Bayle got the Dawgs to the USC 11. On 2nd and 10 from there, Flick rolled to the left to buy himself some time. Bayle was near the USC sideline, but Flick only pump faked to him to draw attention away from Paul Skansi in the Trojan endzone. Flick thought he'd bought Skansi enough room, and threw it up in the air to him. As Steve Pelleur and Dave Krieg would later find out, Skansi was good at making acrobatic catches. He snatched it out of the air, and held on while taking a couple of shots. Washington now had a commanding 17-3 lead.

Washington looked in great shape when Scott Tinsley was intercepted again. But just like we saw when Rick Neuheisel brought Rich Alexis in cold against Cal, Don James made the mistake of bringing in freshman Ron "Cookie" Jackson at tailback on the very next play. Flick made a routine toss sweep pitch to him, but Jackson dropped it, and USC had another chance at the UW 41.

USC only needed one play. Marcus Allen took a toss sweep right, and faked a reverse handoff to wideout Kevin Williams. Allen then threw deep to Jeff Simmons. Ray Horton misplayed the ball, and Chris O'Connor got there too late. USC was within 7 points, and that's how the eventful third quarter ended up.

But as the 3rd quarter became the 4th, the Huskies were back on the move. Washington had one more key break go their way. On 3rd and 12 at the USC 36, Tom Flick threw to Paul Skansi at the 30. Skansi was trying very hard to make a first down, juking, twisting, and spinning. But right after a spin move, a Trojan defender put his helmet on the ball. August Curley recovered the fumble for USC. But the Dawgs were bailed out because LB Chip Banks had roughed Flick, allowing UW to keep the ball. With that last piece of good fortune, Washington was able to put the ball in position for Chuck Nelson to make a 34 yard field goal with 14 minutes left in the game. Washington led by 2 scores again, 20-10.

The Washington defense played tough from there, forcing more turnovers. The game was finally decided when Fletcher Jenkins knocked the ball from QB Scott Tinsley as he scrambled, and Ray Cattage recovered with a minute left. That was USC's eighth turnover of the day, to only two for Washington. Flick kneeled a couple of times, and Washington had their much needed upset of USC in the Coliseum.

Thanks to the Rocky Mountain College fake transcript scandal that was going around the Pac 10, only some teams were eligible for the Rose Bowl during the 1980 season. Washington's victory put them in Pasadena for another tussle with Michigan, and USC's Rose Bowl and national championship hopes were ended.

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