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College Football – "The Immaculate Footception" Will Live Forever in Washington Husky Lore – Part 2
(Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a story about the life of a college football team in just two games – one of heartbreak and the other of extreme joy. This team was the University of Washington this season, and The Events That Happened is a novel by Charles Dickens recalled A Tale of Two Cities. Here’s what really happened and when.)
As disappointing as Washington’s loss at Notre Dame was, what lay ahead was more than the Huskies could have expected or imagined. It will live forever in the Washington Huskies football annals.
With their season record now 2-3, the Washington Huskies return to their home court and look to improve on the Arizona Wildcat’s sparkling 3-1 record with wins over Central Michigan and Northern Arizona at home and over Oregon State on the road. . Their only loss was by 10 points to the 12th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in another road game.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops (brother of Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops) had an 8-5 win over Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl last year. The Wildcats have finally gotten national attention and aren’t about to take a step back.
Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian quarterbacked for Brigham Young in 1995, leading the Cougars to a 13-1 regular season mark, a 19-15 win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl and the Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. His BYU team became the first in NCAA history to win 14 games in a season. Sarkisian’s career efficiency rating of 162.0 is 3rd all-time in the NCAA.
Sark needed to convince his players to play hard and believe that Notre Dame was just a blip on the screen on their way to success.
During the game, the Huskies were ready, but not always able. Arizona moved the ball at will, amassing 461 yards of offense and successfully throwing enough “bubble” passes to start a rubber production company.
Wildcat quarterback Nick Foles has made a career of catching the ball under center, running back and sending muscle wide open on the line of scrimmage. Arizona’s reception before the defenders could come and tackle and stop the long gain.
Arizona had uncovered a Husky weakness and used it as a trader with an insider stock tip. Washington doesn’t have the ability to play receivers one-on-one right now, so they need to play from the line of scrimmage to avoid getting hit deep and giving up the long game.
Foles was 39-of-53 for 384 yards and a touchdown before ending the night, holding Arizona to just 77 yards rushing on 30 carries.
The Wild built a 33-21 lead with less than 3 minutes to play, and it looked like Washington was dead in the water. But, once again, this wasn’t last year’s 0-12 Huskies team.
The Washington 11 offense was still playing hard and believing when Jake Locker found tight end Cavario Middleton in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard TD strike to put the Huskies within 5 at 33-28 with 2:55 left.
Sark then did something that many coaches wouldn’t do, he chose to go wild rather than go for an onside kick and immediate possession. It’s called believing in your defensive coordinator — Nick “The Wild Man” Holt — and all but breaking down the toughness.
All night, the Huskies were quickly widened and beaten again and again on the bubble pass. You could hardly blame the Arizona coaching staff for not calling the play again; Conventional wisdom says that you call a play that works until the defense stops you.
So once again, Nick Foles threw a pass to Delashawn Dean, but Foles’ pass was low and fell behind the receiver trying to catch the pigskin. Linebacker Mason Foster had intentionally overturned the play on the defensive side, and words are a very poor substitute for what happened next.
Foster’s aggressiveness pushed Falls to the limit, and his pass bounced off the receiver’s feet, where Foster fumbled it for a moment before turning around and running elusively for a 37-yard interception to put the Huskies up 34. -33 with 2:37 left to play.
The Washington faithful, who had come alive when the Huskies scored in the previous game, were now going wild with frenzied excitement. And the players? Well, let’s just say the reaction was overwhelming joy. And the coaches? Perhaps angry, joyful and more unstoppable than ever in their belief that the Huskies can win by playing hard, playing the right way and having fun.
There were no priests in sight at that point, and the legendary “Jesus Touch” icon visible from Notre Dame Stadium was not moved from Notre Dame to Husky Stadium for the game, but a miracle of the football gods was unfolding before our eyes. . They’ve had enough of Arizona’s bubble passes and it’s time for redemption.
Call it luck, call it a ball strike, or call it what I do – “Flawless Foot”, a little understated, but very accurate. Whatever you call it, it will live on in Washington football history forever for years to come. If the Huskies get to a bowl game this year and win, it will be a happy event and Mason Foster will be cemented in legend.
Sark went for the 2-point conversion, and Jake Locker connected with sophomore wide receiver (and budding star) Jermaine Kearse to complete it and put Washington up 36-33.
Mason Foster had a great night with 11 tackles, a pair of key stops on Arizona’s final drive and an interception, and a moment of glory that will take at least a lifetime to forget and a million years to replicate exactly.
Washington’s miraculous play brought back great memories of the “Flawless Reception” during the 1972 playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. Late in the game, a Pittsburgh receiver was hit hard while trying to make a catch, the ball bounced off him and before it hit the ground, it was intercepted by Franco Harris, who scooped it up and then dunked on it. touchdown that won the game for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh had been struggling to win a playoff game for 4 decades, and the flawless reception – regarded by NFL movies as the greatest game of all time – led to the Steelers finally winning 4 Super Bowls before the end of the decade.
The icing on the cake came when Arizona had one last chance to get the win that should have been theirs.
A Huskies defensive line that hadn’t done much all night as its top pass rusher, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, got in touch with his Samoan roots and sacked Nick Foles on a critical play. On the next play, true freshman bench (and future NFL player) Desmond Trufant picked off Foles’ pass with 36 seconds left to seal the Dawgs’ improbable 36-33 victory.
Trust me when I say that University of Washington football and Huskies madness is on the rise. Look for a lot of missing Dawgs to return to Husky Stadium in the next few games.
Husky fans in the Pacific Northwest aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid because they’re enjoying the sweet taste of success. Even the football gods are so happy that they decided to order a cable connection with high quality.
(Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 2-part series.)
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley
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