Second half against Huskers gave UW swagger in 1991 season
If the 1991 Washington Huskies had a moment of truth, it came in the third quarter in Lincoln, Neb. They entered the game ranked No. 4 in the country...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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If the 1991 Washington Huskies had a moment of truth, it came in the third quarter in Lincoln, Neb.
They entered the game ranked No. 4 in the country and Nebraska No. 9, and everyone on the Huskies' sideline knew it was a game they had to win for Washington to legitimately contend for a national title.
Washington statistically dominated the game throughout and would eventually outgain Nebraska 618-308. But some sloppy play, including a controversial muffed punt by UW, helped give the Cornhuskers the lead.
Late in the third quarter, the Huskies faced a fourth-and-eight at the Nebraska 30, trailing 21-9.
Then- coach Don James said last year that he felt it was too long for a field goal and too short to punt.
"I just swore to myself and the guys on the phone and said, 'We're going for it,' " he said. Offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson was so sure James was going to punt that he had momentarily stepped away from his seat in the coach's box.
Gilbertson hurried back just in time to call for a slant pass from Billy Joe Hobert to Orlando McKay that worked for 15 yards and set up a touchdown. That started a UW onslaught of 27 points in the final 15:19 of the game.
Players cited the second half of the Nebraska game as a turning point in the unbeaten season.
"That was just as good an ass-kicking as you could have in the second half," said center and captain Ed Cunningham. "It was the varsity against the freshmen. I think that's what gave us our swagger, maybe.... We came into hallowed ground and their fans hated us when we got here and they gave us a standing ovation when we left. We started to figure out we were pretty good."
Week 2: UW 36, Nebraska 21
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