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Inspired performance

Boosted by teammate's presence, Huskies handle Purdue

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Posted: Monday January 01, 2001 8:55 PM
Updated: Tuesday January 02, 2001 8:24 AM

  Marques Tuiasosopo, Joe Odom Purdue linebacker Joe Odom manages to wrap up elusive Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. AP

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Because Marques Tuiasosopo came back, Washington didn't need a comeback in the Rose Bowl.

When the Huskies quarterback left the field with an injured throwing shoulder late in the third quarter Monday, it appeared Washington's hopes went with him even though the Huskies led Purdue by three points.

"I was mad," Tuiasosopo said. "I was like, 'Can you believe this, the Rose Bowl game?'"

He missed three plays, returned before the start of the fourth quarter and then guided No. 4 Washington to two touchdowns and a 34-24 victory against the 14th-ranked Boilermakers.

Voted the player of the game, Tuiasosopo ran for one touchdown, passed for another and accounted for 213 yards.

"He is the absolute epitome of what a quarterback should be," Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He hurt his shoulder, he came back in there and said he could play. The rest, as they say, is history."

Washington (11-1) finished the season with an eight-game winning streak. The Huskies rallied for eight victories this season, outscoring the opposition 144-68 in the fourth quarter during the regular season. Once again, they were dominant in the final 15 minutes.

The Huskies gave the Pac-10 its first Rose Bowl victory in five years and just its second in the last nine games. Washington was playing in its first Rose Bowl in eight years.

The Huskies started the fourth quarter with a 3-yard run by Rich Alexis on fourth-and-1 from the Purdue 35. Six plays later, Tuiasosopo threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Todd Elstrom, extending the lead to 10 points.

A little over a minute later, Greg Carothers forced and recovered a fumble by Montrell Lowe -- the game's first turnover -- at the Washington 34. Lowe, who gained 79 yards on 20 carries, was injured on the play and didn't return.

The Huskies then moved 66 yards on seven plays, scoring on an 8-yard run by Willie Hurst to make it 34-17 with 7:25 left.

The Boilermakers drew within 10 points on a 42-yard run by Sedrick Brown on a fourth-and-1 with 6:37 left, and got the ball back a little over a minute later when Tuiasosopo threw a lateral Elstrom couldn't handle at the end of a 26-yard run and Ashante Woodyard recovered at the Purdue 49.

However, Travis Dorsch was wide left on a 42-yard field goal with 4:54 to play, and the Huskies then ran out the clock. Tuiasosopo gained five yards on a fourth-and-1 play from the Washington 45 with a little less than three minutes left.

The Boilermakers (8-4), playing in their first Rose Bowl in 34 years and second ever, got off to a disastrous start, falling behind 14-0 before the game was 10 1/2 minutes old. They contributed to their problems by committing six first-quarter penalties.

But they would tie the game 17-all in the third quarter.

"I think their physical offensive line had a big hand in the game, and certainly, their quarterback is an exceptional player, without a doubt," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "They did what they had to do to win the game.

"I thought our team had its moments. I liked the way we came back in the first half after digging ourselves a hole. Our offense underperformed. We did not put ourselves in position to win the game."

Tuiasosopo was 16-of-22 for 138 yards, and rushed for 75 yards on 15 carries. Purdue's Drew Brees, like Tuiasosopo playing in his final college game, was 23-of-39 for 275 yards and two touchdowns -- both to Vinny Sutherland.

"It was a great road getting here," Brees said. "It was a dream season. Of course, I'm upset that we lost this game, but I thought that we played hard and we never gave up."

Paralyzed Washington safety Curtis Williams was transported to the Rose Bowl from his rehabilitation center in San Jose, and watched the game from a suite in the press box.

Williams, wearing his game jersey while sitting in a wheelchair, spent about 10 minutes with his teammates in an emotional locker room before the game. The Huskies wore his initials on their jerseys.

A fifth-year senior from Fresno, Williams was paralyzed from the neck down during Washington's 31-28 victory at Stanford on Oct. 28. Carothers, a redshirt freshman, replaced him as a starter.

Brees slipped on the game's first play for an 8-yard loss, and was sacked two plays later -- just the ninth sack allowed by Purdue all season. The Boilermakers punted, and Washington drove 64 yards to take a 7-0 lead, scoring on a 1-yard run by Braxton Cleman.

Purdue then moved into Washington territory before having to punt, but Tim Stratton's snap sailed over Scott Kurz's head for a 30-yard loss, and the Huskies needed only three plays to move 25 yards, scoring on a 5-yard run by Tuiasosopo.

"I thought my snap changed the momentum of the game," Stratton said.

The Boilermakers responded with a 90-yard, 16-play drive, scoring on a 5-yard pass from Brees to Sutherland early in the second quarter.

Dorsch kicked a 26-yard field goal with 26 seconds left before halftime to cut Washington's lead to 14-10. The Boilermakers had to settle for three points because John Standeford dropped a potential 27-yard touchdown pass from Brees 27 seconds earlier.

Alexis, who gained 78 yards on 10 carries, ran 50 yards on the first play of the second half to set up a 47-yard field goal by John Anderson, but the Boilermakers tied the game 17-all a little over a minute later on a 24-yard pass from Brees to Sutherland five plays after Sutherland's 51-yard kickoff return.

Anderson's 42-yard field goal with 6:55 left in the third quarter put Washington on top to stay.


 
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