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Holiday heart falls four beats short
Richard Linde, 29 December 2001

Tight end Jerramy Stevens (left) caught 9 passes in his best performance of the season. Paul Arnold is pictured to the right of Stevens, along with some unknown admirers during Picture Day, 2001.

Taking their queue from their courageous quarterback Cody Pickett, who has played his last seven games with a shoulder separation, the Washington Huskies, who played with plenty of heart, fell 1:49 short of  victory against a heavily favored Texas Longhorns team, losing 47-43 in the Culligan Holiday Bowl. 

It was a night of redemption for the Huskies, considering their previous game, a 65-7 thrashing at the hands of Miami. Washington fans can be proud of this young team--the Comeback Kids--who have played with heart and tenacity all season long. 

It was a gutsy performance by Cody Pickett and by the Huskies who didn't belong in this game, especially if you take the betting lines seriously. But the game is played on a football field, not on the betting boards in Las Vegas.

Taking a 19-point lead in the third quarter (36-17), the Huskies seemed destined for victory; however, poor field position in the fourth quarter may have cost them the game. Using short field opportunities to its advantage, Texas, led by its quarterback Major Applewhite, stormed back to take the lead (40-36) with five minutes to go in the game. Three of the Longhorns drives in the fourth quarter came from 48, 54 and from 9 yards out.

But the Huskies were not to be denied, at least for a brief moment.

Once again saddled with poor field position and starting from their own 20, the Huskies marched 80 yards to retake the lead (43-40) after a 34-yard run by Willie Hurst, with 1:49 left on the clock.

By then both defenses had run out of gas, and it was one of those games where the last team that has the ball is going to win, assuming there is enough time left on the clock. And Texas had more than enough time, marching 80 yards in 7 plays to take the lead again, 47-43.

Washington got the ball back with 38 seconds left on the clock but failed to score.


-- The outcome might have been different for the Huskies had they opted not to go for a two-point conversion after taking a 19-point lead in the third quarter. Needing a field goal with just 38 seconds left to tie the score would have been a whole lot easier than needing a touchdown, as was the case.

Also, on its penultimate drive, the Huskies could have taken more time off the clock, knowing that a field goal would have tied the score.

Going for a two-point conversion is like playing the slots in Vegas, the odds being against you. Why not take the sure bet, if there is no compelling reason to go for two?

Before going for the two-point conversion, Head coach Rick Neuheisel seemed visibly angered with assistant coach Steve Axman, who may have called for a one-point try. 

Willie Hurst ended up throwing a terrible pass into the end zone that went for naught, one that was worse looking than a president's pitch to start the baseball season.  

Down 36-26, Texas attempted a two-point conversion and failed with 11:54 to go. In my mind, this doesn't offset the Huskies' gamble for two, otherwise making it a push. You take every point you can, every time you can, never knowing when you'll need it. 

-- When Cody Pickett has time to throw, he's as accurate as anyone, his shoulder injury notwithstanding. The Longhorns were able to put pressure on Pickett most of the night, forcing him to leave the pocket on numerous occasions. The Huskies weren't able to run the ball effectively on first down, which left Pickett with second and thirds with plenty to go. 

We all knew this would be the case before the season started, since the Huskies had to replace four of their five offensive linemen.


2nd quarter Team Scoring How it happened
13:06 Field Goal  Huskies (3-0) Anderson 43-yard field goal
12:30 Field Goal Huskies (6-0) Anderson 43-yard field goal
6:54 Touchdown Huskies (13-0) Johnson 38-yard interception return. Anderson kick. 
5:22 Touchdown Texas (7-13) Johnson 43-yard pass from Applewhite. Mangum kick.
1:55 Touchdown Texas (14-13) Williams 25-yard pass from Applewhite. Mangum kick.
:47  Touchdown Huskies (20-14) Collier 4-yard pass from Pickett. Anderson field goal.
0:00 Field Goal Huskies (23-14) Anderson 40-yard field goal
3rd Quarter    
7:46 Touchdown Huskies (30-14)  Stevens 17-yard pass from Pickett. Anderson kick.
5:37 Field Goal Texas (17-30) Alexis 5-yard run (Anderson kick)
3:51 Touchdown Huskies (36-17) Hurst 4-yard run. Two-point conversion failed
1:18 Field Goal Texas (20-36) Mangum 24-yard field goal.
4th Quarter    
11:54 Touchdown Texas (26-36) Trissel 2-yard pass from Applewhite. Two-point conversion failed.
8:01 Touchdown Texas (33-36) Williams one-yard run. Mangum kick.
6:00 Touchdown Texas (40-36) Scaife 4-yard pass from Applewhite. Mangum kick.
1:49 Touchdown Huskies (43-40) Hurst 34-yard run. Anderson kick.
:38 Touchdown Texas (47-43) Williams 3-yard run. Mangum kick.


Washington 0 23 13 7 43
Texas 0 14 6 27 47


Statistics Huskies Longhorns
First Downs 22 29
Rushing yards 151 119
Passing yards 293 473
Sacked-yards  1-8 0-0
Return yards (punts, kickoffs, interceptions) 1-12, 8-144, 3-38 2-9, 3-70, 2-16
Passes 27-54-2 37-55-2
Punts 6-37.3 5-37.8
Fumbles lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-44 2-9
Time of Possession 28:05 31:55
Pickett 27-54-2, 293 (2 Touchdowns)
Applewhite 37-55-2, 473 (4 Touchdowns)
Individual Statistics:
Washington Attempts Yards TD
Willie Hurst 16 137 2
Pickett 7 8 0
Alexis 4 6 0
Walker 1 0 0
Ivan Williams 14 58 2
Ike 10 21 0
Jeffery 1 15 0
Roy Williams 1 13 0
Robin 1 3 0
Applewhite 2 4 0
Johnson 1 1 0

Washington Receptions Yards TD
Williams 5 62 0
Elstrom 4 49 0
Collier 1 4 1
Reddick 2 24 0
Alexis 1 6 0
Stevens 9 109 1
Hurst 2 12 0
Arnold 1 15
Walker 1 3 0
Hooks 1 9 0
R. Williams 11 134 1
Scaife 7 84 1
Johnson 5 157 1
Robin 5 42 0
Trissel 5 29 1
Thomas 1 6 0
Shanahan 1 3 0
I. Williams 1 18 0

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