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PURPLE HEART
By: Casey Anderson, Posted 25 November 2003

 

You had your fingers crossed at kickoff in Columbus, but it never showed up.  You anticipated it after a nervous glance at the Husky Stadium scoreboard when Nevada was in town.  Surely, you thought, it would make an appearance when the Dawgs were down in the Arizona desert.  By the Cal game, you were sticking pins in voodoo dolls and chanting ancient incantations to summon it.  An entire season had nearly passed without so much as a glimpse of it.  Then, inexplicably, impossibly, with a mere seventy seconds left in the season, Husky Pride returned.

            With less than two minutes left in an otherwise agonizing 2003 campaign, the much maligned Washington Huskies drove on the eighth ranked Cougs and their heralded “Damage Incorporated” defense like the Bandit did Smokey.  In the instant that the unlikely Corey (the other) Williams blasted into the endzone, the proud, purple Washington blood finally pumped again, bringing Husky Pride back from the dead.  And the man holding the defibrillator was one Dr. Cody Pickett. 

            Sure, Pickett may not have lived up to Heisman hype this year.  Whether the culprit was Cody himself, an inadequate O-line, or a bevy of frosh receivers and injured tight ends doesn’t matter.  On fourth down and four with less than two minutes, down by six to the archrival Cougars, Pickett showed why Gilby had absolutely no intention of playing a backup quarterback in the 2003 Apple Cup.  The missile Cody Pickett fired to Corey Williams may have been the most impressive throw of Pickett’s career, threading the needle and hitting his endzone-bound freshman receiver in full stride.  With only the first losing season in 27 years, the Apple Cup, the five year winning streak over the Cougs, and Husky Pride and tradition hanging in the balance, Pickett pump-faked to the flat and launched a rocket to Corey Williams.  Game over.  Husky Stadium erupted into a frenzy that hadn’t been seen since Miami’s visit in 2000.

There wasn’t a fan in the stands, Husky or Cougar, who didn’t know that the pulsing air raid siren signified the sixth consecutive Apple Cup loss for WSU right then and there.  Marquis Cooper’s interception and subsequent touchdown simply saved the Cougars the agony of drawing out the defeat.  The reaction of the Husky faithful as the clock hit double zeroes was almost overwhelming, especially considering that it was for a 6-6 UW team that seemed left for dead after the loss to Arizona and drubbing at the hands of the Cal Bears.  It was a feast for Husky fans who have been starving for something to cheer about this year. 

With a bowl game possible but unlikely, what better way for Pickett to end his record-setting career at Washington than with a touchdown pass to beat the Cougars?  Regardless of the records, Pickett won’t be remembered as the UW’s greatest quarterback.  However, if the records weren’t enough, Pickett did secure his legacy Saturday night with a fourth quarter that exemplified his toughness, his resilience in the face of adversity, and his ability to excel under pressure. 

With some luck, the most prolific passer in Pac-10 history will get one more chance to loft a ball to the greatest receiver to wear the purple and gold.  If there is no bowl game, an Apple Cup victory is a fitting finale for Cody and Reggie, along with the rest of the seniors who helped to keep the streaks alive and earned their places in the storied Washington tradition. 

Thanks guys.  

Casey Anderson can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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