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At halftime of California's game against UCLA last Saturday, Golden Bears tailback Russell White had a needle in each arm and a simple request: He wanted his mommy. Despite having rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown before intermission, White wasn't feeling so hot. That much was clear from the way he lunged for the oxygen tank whenever he stepped off the field. The air over the Rose Bowl was the color of Grey Poupon, and White, having been plagued for two weeks by an upper-respiratory infection, couldn't take deep breaths. Further, after 30 minutes of play he was so dehydrated that team doctors stuck two glucose-solution IVs in him.
With the score tied 14-14, White, who's a junior, could not decide whether to play the second half. But he knew of someone who could decide. A student trainer was sent into the stands to get Helen White. "O.K.," she said upon greeting her son in the dressing room, "what's the matter?"
"I get tired," White told her. "I can carry two or three times, then I have to rest."
"Go in and give them what you can give them," said Helen.
"Don't be a superhero," said Tovi Scruggs, White's girlfriend, who had tagged along with Helen.
Scruggs need not have worried. White's second-half contributions were a mortal but important 49 yards rushing—he finished with 121 on 25 carries—and a second touchdown, which tied the score at 24-24 with 4:18 to play. Then, with 30 seconds remaining, Doug Brien's 47-yard field goal tumbled through the uprights to give Cal a 27-24 victory.
But by no means did the roll call of Bears heroes begin and end with White:
?Quarterback Mike Pawlawski completed 27 of 39 passes for 292 yards and succeeded in doing what his more renowned counterpart, Bruin signal-caller Tommy Maddox, could not—move the chains when the game was on the line.
?The defense had sand kicked in its face for three quarters, but in the final 10 minutes it forced a punt, caused a fumble that led to White's tying touchdown, forced another punt and then stopped the Bruins on their final possession.