As Moen passed the goal line, he brushed past saxophonist Scott DeBarger, a former high school football player who later acknowledged he toyed with the notion of trying to tackle the runner, a deed that would have thrown what was already football's most improbable play into even greater chaos. Moffett shudders to this day at the awful prospect. "Imagine the confusion if Moen had run into or tripped over or been tackled by a band member," says Moffett. "Then we would have had to make a decision on whether to award a touchdown." Fortunately, DeBarger's better instincts prevailed. As it was, Moen bumped the sax from DeBarger's grasp as he soared in jubilation in the end zone. Gary Tyrrell, leader of the band's trombone section, was standing in the end zone playing the Stanford band's fight song, All Right Now (the school's fight song is Come Join the Band), when he looked up to see Moen descending on him. "I had no idea why a Cal football player should be in our end zone with the game over," says Tyrrell. "I was apparently at the spot where he was going to spike the ball. I barely had time to brace myself."
Moen landed on Tyrrell and sent him and his trombone flying. Robert Stinnett, a photographer for the Oakland Tribune, was standing next to the musician at the time of the collision. His on-the-spot photos of the occasion have been made into two posters that have taken their place among countless other artifacts of. The Play. Stinnett's pictures made Tyrrell as famous as Moen.
Moen said he never saw the trombone player, so eager was he to celebrate the first touchdown of his college career. Disengaging himself from Tyrrell, he pranced about the end zone with the ball held aloft. Then he had a sobering thought: There were flags on the field. Perhaps the highlight of his athletic career would be wiped out by a penalty. "I finally just sat down to await the verdict," says Moen. The officials had not confirmed the touchdown, and the spectators, thoroughly drained, held their reaction in check. The silence after so many minutes of wild cheering was startlingly abrupt. The crowd had been transformed into a mute, befuddled giant.
Starkey was now virtually speechless, his baritone voice reduced to a grating falsetto whisper. "The ball is still loose," he had shouted incredulously as The Play took form. "He's going into the end zone! There are flags on the field! The band's on the field...." Starkey once worked for Moen's father, Donne, in the banking business in Southern California, and he had been concerned that he had scarcely mentioned the boy's name throughout the game. Now he was maniacally screaming it into the microphone.
But something had to be wrong with a play that had four players throwing a total of five laterals, had illegal players from both teams on the field and had the Stanford band forming a corridor for the conclusion of a touchdown run. Moffett, a Pac-10 official for 22 years, was indubitably the man on the spot. As soon as Moen crossed the goal line, several Stanford assistant coaches confronted Moffett. Wiggin, who had been taunted by a finger-waving Cal nose guard, Bruce Parker, was fuming on the sidelines. Moffett extended a restraining hand toward the coaches, players, rooters and band members who were crowding around him. He called his fellow officials into an on-field conference.
"I assumed the man had scored," says Moffett, "but I had to admit I lost him in the band. I asked the other officials if he had crossed the goal line. They said he had. I asked if anyone had blown a whistle during the return. No one had. I asked if every one of those laterals was clearly backward. They said they were. And the penalty flag? On Stanford for extra players and band on the field. Well then, I said, we have a touchdown. I threw my hands in the air to signify as much. And it was like starting World War III."
In fact, a cannon shot—the one that accompanies all Cal touchdowns—was fired, but this one was tantalizingly delayed. Igoe and those others of little faith were outside the stadium when, with disbelieving ears, they heard it. "I just stood there for a second, a sick look on my face," says Igoe. "Then I started to rush back into the stadium with all the other idiots. I don't know what I expected to see—an instant replay, maybe."
Upstairs in the broadcast booth, Starkey rallied for one final paroxysm: "The Bears have won. Oh my God, this is the most amazing, sensational, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football. I've never seen any game like it in my life.... The Stanford band just lost their team that ballgame.... This place is like it's never been before. It's indescribable here.... I guarantee you, if you watch college football for the rest of your life, you'll never see one like this...."
With thousands of people now on the field, Moffett and the other officials broke into a perilous sprint for their dressing quarters at the opposite end of the stadium. "Everyone was yelling at us—players, coaches, fans, both bands," Moffett recalls. "It was an alltime experience. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that a game could end that way. This one will be down in my memory book forever."
The officials' locker room was scarcely a sanctuary. Within minutes, Wiggin, his offensive coordinator, Ray Handley, and Stanford Athletic Director Andy Geiger were bursting through the door demanding an explanation, insisting that they had photographic proof that an official had waved the play dead when Garner was tackled. "They were in a state of shock," says Cal Sports Information Director John McCasey, who acted as a pool reporter in the officials' room. "Paul was saying how people's livelihoods depended on the officials' decisions." Moffett held his ground under the barrage. No whistle had been blown. Head Linesman Jack Langley had been in perfect position to call the play dead when Garner was tackled. "He was looking right at it," says Moffett. "All through that play I was saying to myself, 'Keep cool.' It was a weird situation, but we're trained to keep our cool." The Stanford team, meanwhile, sat fully dressed for 20 minutes after the game, waiting, as one member, Lemon, recalls, "for something else to happen. We thought we would probably have to do this play all over again. We sat there in total disbelief."