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The Dream Game
Austin Murphy
January 13, 1992
Would you believe it? Washington beat Miami in the battle of two No. 1's
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January 13, 1992

The Dream Game

Would you believe it? Washington beat Miami in the battle of two No. 1's

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The Huskies, who did knock four quarterbacks out of games this season, did not injure Torretta, which is not to say they didn't get to him. He was sacked six times, took 20 or so hard shots and complained after the game of a ringing in his ears. One Washington rusher whom he came to know especially well was number 90, Steve Emtman, the All-America defensive tackle.

A trenchant analysis of Emtman's ability was provided in October by UCLA guard Scott Spalding: "When he lines up on your head, you turn to the guy next to you and shout, 'Help me! I need help with this guy.' " In the first quarter of the Fracas, when Hurricane center Kelvin Harris shuffled over to give guard Rudy Barber a hand with Emtman, Husky noseguard Tyrone Rodgers came up the middle unblocked and pile-drove Torretta into the dusty turf, jarring the ball loose. Washington's Dave Hoffmann recovered that fumble, and seven plays later Travis Hanson's 40-yard field goal caromed inward, off the left upright, and went over the crossbar to make the score 7-3. Carlos Huerta answered with a 20-yard chip shot of his own on Miami's next possession. Hurricanes 10, Huskies 3.

Washington's equalizer was Mario Bailey, a splendid 5'9" wide receiver who had spent the season in the shadow of Emtman and the rest of the Husky defense. At one Rose Bowl luncheon he was introduced to a guest as Michigan's Howard by a stuffed-shirt Bowl official. Bailey politely explained that he was not Howard.

"Oh," replied the stuffed shirt, nonplussed. "Do you know where he is?"

Bailey escaped Howard's shadow with six Rose Bowl catches for 126 yards, including a diving grab for a TD. Against Miami he got the attention of the Posse by making toast out of strong safety Hurlie Brown early in the third quarter for another touchdown, this one on a 26-yard pass that tied the game at 10—all.

Before they saw Bailey's score and asked, "Who's that guy?" the Posse members' biggest question was this: Will Husky cornerbacks Dana Hall and Walter Bailey dare attempt to play us man-to-man? The last team to try that was Houston in September. The halftime score of that game was 30-3 in Miami's favor.

Hall smirked. "We've been dominating receivers all season," he said. "We don't adjust to other teams—they adjust to us."

Walter Bailey was more respectful: "It would be much harder to keep Miami off the scoreboard. It would be like facing Desmond Howard times four."

Rough poetic justice was meted out when, with just two minutes remaining in the Fracas, Hall was burned for Miami's go-ahead touchdown. Hurricane wide receiver Lamar Thomas sold Hall on a hitch pattern and then blew by him for a 63-yard scoring pass. Thomas, in fact, had also beaten Hall in the first half, to set up Huerta's field goal. He should have scored on the earlier play: Hall had fallen down, leaving Thomas a clear path to the end zone. Deciding he would score with a flourish by standing on the goal line and falling backward into the end zone—"taking the Nestea plunge," as he later sheepishly put it—Thomas set out to do precisely that. But he mistook the numeral 5 painted on the field for an upside-down G and fell backward on the three-yard line. The Husky defense was unyielding on the next three downs, and Miami had to settle for Huerta's field goal.

Apparently unchastened by his earlier fiasco, Thomas popped off the ground after his touchdown catch and assumed a Heisman pose—a dig at Mario Bailey, whose similar pose after a fourth-quarter touchdown in the Rose Bowl had been a swipe at Howard, whose hubristic imitation of the trophy after a 93-yard punt return against Ohio State had kicked off this epidemic of stiff arms. Before Thomas struck his pose, however, he tore off his helmet and, as is his wont, sought out a television camera. While beaming intently into the lens, Thomas failed to notice the approach of fellow Posse member Horace Copeland, who had also removed his helmet and was attempting to congratulate him. Raising his right arm, Heisman-like, Thomas inadvertently clubbed Copeland, knocking him senseless.

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