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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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Seeing Copeland on his back in the end zone, cross-eyed and spread-eagled, the referee mistook the distressed receiver's posture for yet another newfangled expression of glee and flagged him 15 yards for excessive celebration.

Those yards, tacked onto the ensuing kickoff, proved costly. A handsome return by freshman Napoleon Kaufman gave the Huskies the ball at midfield with 1:47 remaining. Hobert hit Mario Bailey for 22 yards at the left sideline. Reserve tailback Jay Barry—in the game because starter Beno Bryant had sprained a knee in the Rose Bowl—followed that by churning out 10 yards on a draw. Three plays later, Washington faced fourth-and-eight on the Hurricane 15. Hobert called his final timeout.

Offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson sent Hobert back to the huddle with a play and then stared anxiously across the field. He is a close friend of Miami coach Dennis Erickson; they both grew up in Snohomish County, Wash. They're golfing buddies; every summer, Gilbertson takes advantage of Erickson's miserable putting to line his pockets with the Hurricane coach's money. Gilbertson was an assistant under Erickson at Idaho in 1982 and again in '85. Together they refined the one-back set that both their teams now use. Each knows how the other thinks. Now Gilbertson wondered if Erickson was anticipating his call.

The Huskies came out in a four-receiver, no-back set. The voice of Sonny Lubick, Miami's defensive coordinator, rang out over the din of the crowd: "Watch the sneak! Watch the sneak!" On fourth-and-short against Michigan, the Huskies had come out in a no-back formation, and Hobert had kept the ball and run for a first down. This time the wide receivers and flankers ran corner routes. Tight end Aaron Pierce held his block for the count of one-thousand-one, released over the middle, caught Hobert's dump pass and turned upfield. Pierce met Miami free safety Darryl Williams at the two and carried him into the end zone.

James unhesitatingly held up two fingers—Washington would go for the win. Yet again, the Huskies came out in a no-back set. "Watch the tight end! Watch the tight end!" Lubick bellowed.

Pierce blocked out on the defensive end, counted one-thousand-one, released. Middle linebacker Mike Barrow went with him as Hobert took a three-step drop...and sneaked straight up the gut to win the game.

Particularly touching—at first—was the postgame, midfield rapprochement between Medearis and Washington center Ed Cunningham. The pair had waged a war of words, through the media, all during December.

"Ed, I said if Washington was in Florida, it would be the fourth-best team in the state," Medearis now said. "But after seeing the Gators choke against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, I'm bumping you to third."

"You're too kind, Rusty," said Cunningham. "I knew you'd be a gracious loser."

With that the two fell on each other, trading blows before teammates pried them apart. The general bonhomie was further eroded once it was discovered that the uprights, brought in from a nearby high school field for the hastily arranged game, were 23 feet, four inches apart—nearly five feet wider than the recently narrowed NCAA width. After making the point that Huerta's field goal had bisected the uprights, whereas Hanson's had glanced off an upright, Erickson concluded, "If they were gentlemen, they'd concede the game." The Huskies laughed at the suggestion.

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