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Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Huskies beaten by the clock
Huskies fall 15 yards and 2 seconds short
Malamute, 8 October 2006

On the Trojans' 15-yard line with 2 seconds remaining on the clock, Washington was unable to get a play off, allowing USC to race to the locker room to savor a hard-earned 26-20 victory.

Overcoming some bad snaps from center, a blocked punt and a fake field-goal attempt that went for a touchdown but, still with a chance to win late in the game, Washington stopped a Trojan drive on the Husky 4-yard line, forcing USC to settle for a field goal that expanded its lead to 26-20 with 1:29 left. Following the kickoff, Isaiah Stanback engineered a drive that started from his own 20 and ended on the Trojan 15 with a pass completion to Sonny Shackelford and the clocked stopped at 2 seconds. 

And then the clock was started and the game ended, much to Washington's frustration.

Some TV pundits felt the Huskies deserved one last play, to wit: after the19-yard pass from Stanback to Shackelford, the referees stood around debating whether to put more time on the clock, while USC coach Pete Carroll frantically signaled to start the clock up. In the end zone, USC safety Taylor Mays was doubled up in pain, but knew if he left the field, they would call a timeout. Amidst the pandemonium on the field, the crowd booing vociferously, and Mays in agony, the referees started the clock, which ran out before Stanback could get a play off. 

Those 2 seconds went by as instantly as the big bang that started the universe, and the Huskies' chance to end USC's domination at the Coliseum blew up like a supernova, for the upset would have had universal proportions or, at the very least, would have been heard around the world.

Center Juan Garcia, as quoted by The Press Enterprise, "I'm not trying to make no excuses and stuff, but I wish we could have lost on the last play. I could live with that, but just give us a chance, you know."

I can hear it now, "Stanback, a hummer to Johnie Kirton. Touchdown, Washington! The ball is up and good. Washington wins 27-26!"

Oh, what could have been.

It was a contest of wits and self-composure between the two coaches, Tyrone Willingham and Pete Carroll.

The battle of wits and trickery ended in a tie.

USC's first score came on a fake-field goal attempt, with WR Steve Smith standing near the north sideline as the teams line up. Mike McDonald took the snap from center and hit an all-alone Smith in stride on a 20-yard pass reception and score.

But UW had some legerdemain of its own to start the second half.

Trailing 17-10 at the half, Washington opened the second half with an onside kick that was recovered by Corey Williams. On the first play from scrimmage, on an end around, Marlon Wood ran the ball to the USC 4-yard line where he was tackled by LB Keith Rivers. After some shaky offensive plays that went nowhere, Michael Braunstein kicked a 24-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 17-13.

As far as composure goes, give that one to Willingham, who kept his cool most of the game. Carroll loses in this department because of his behavior on Washington's final drive. Not just because of his start-the-clock episode that almost dislocated his right shoulder, but because, during a timeout during that drive, he ran to midfield and heatedly chewed his defensive players out. Carroll didn't present his usual, likeable image this time around.

Keep it simple, stupid:

The two-second disaster wasn't anybody's fault down on the field. Blame an NCAA rule change for the confusion and the ensuing bluster. When the ball is set after a first down, the clock starts, rather than when it is snapped, as it was last season.

The NCAA needs to return to the original rule and do away with the replay review while it's at it. This society is complicated enough without adding to the labyrinth of confusion, especially in the world of sports. Humans aren't perfect when making instantaneous decisions, let alone with what seems to be at the time a well-thought-out process. Why add to their burden with unreasonable standards of perfection, in and out of sports?

Because of the replay review, people expect the refs to be perfect. That's unreasonable. Consider the 2005 BCS title game and this year's game between Oklahoma and Oregon. Replay reviews didn't work in both games. Because fans expect perfection, blown calls add to the negativity that's permeated our society and the world of sports.

Referee conspiracy theories abound, especially in the Big 12, where they see Pac-10 zebes under their beds at night. Because of the Oklahoma/Oregon game, Pac-10 refs are held suspect after every close call now, being generically branded like E. coli bacteria. Representatives from other conferences, along with the eastern media, will continue to hammer away at the Pac-10 refs hoping to gain a future advantage, whether its in recruiting or in an intersectional match-up with a Pac-10 team -- or with whatever.

More questions than answers surround the replay review at the college level. (At the pro level, they have a homogenous set of referees, which is not true at the college level.)

If they review every play upstairs, then why have the coach's challenge rule?

Furthermore, lens' aberrations, shadows, eyeglasses and ocular diseases can present an image that is as confusing to look at as the Face on Mars. More often than not, the guys in the television booth will have a differing set of opinions about a certain replay. Also, most of the decisions rendered are inconclusive because there's a lack of indisputable evidence, all of which adds time to the game.

The replay rule is optional; that is, home teams need not adopt it if they wish. And, maybe, that's all that's necessary.

The refs get the call right most of the time.

The whole thing doesn't make sense, though. :)

The SEC is overrated:

Arkansas decisively beat number-two Auburn on Saturday. Over the past two years, 'SC has toyed with Razorbacks as if they were a high school team.

Tennessee's win over Cal had to be a fluke. You know, first game jitters and quarterback uncertainty, as to whom should start. Cal will clobber the Volunteers when they open the 2007 season at Berkeley.

The Good:

-- Over his career, Stanback has tossed 22 touchdown passes and has been intercepted just 12 times, which is a remarkable stat when you consider the Huskies' won/lost record over that time (7 wins, 21 losses).  You'd expect his numbers to be reversed.

The point is that Isaiah does not give games away, and that's why the game stayed so close, even though Stanback was under heavy bombardment most of the game.

-- Michael Braunstein's two field goals and onside kick.

-- Washington's defensive stands that resulted in four field goals, rather than touchdowns.

-- Stanback's 6-yard touchdown pass to TE Johnie Kirton. Stanback burned the pass through two defenders' hands into Kirton's, with Elway velocity.

-- Stanback wasn't sacked or intercepted.

-- Isaiah has the potential to be an NFL quarterback. He threw some bad passes but so did John David Booty. Stanback's pass efficiency on the day was 109.0. Booty's was 111.8, both numbers indicative of solid defenses.

The Bad:

-- Some bad snaps. Most likely, big Sedrick Ellis, an intimidator, had something to do with that.

-- A couple of fumbles inside the Trojans' 10-yard line that resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns.

-- Sean Douglas' blocked punt that led to an 'SC field goal.

-- Our puns on a USC message board:

Coach Pete Carroll recruited his academic All-American at a Geek Restaurant. Or was that a Greek Restaurant?

When it comes to USC and a lack of institutional control, the NCAA will just beat around the Bush.

Thanks to his offense, Carroll's defense rests. What minor crime did Carroll commit? Email this pun to an 'SC mouthpiece (pun intended), e.g., Rick Neuheisel, the former Washington coach.

------------

 
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Washington 3 7 3 7 20
USC 7 10 6 3 26


Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
5:43 USC TD Steve Smith 20-yard pass from Michael McDonald; Mario Danelo kick. USC 7-0
0:02 UW FG Michael Braunstein 26-yad field goal. USC 7-3
2nd qtr
11:03 USC TD Patrick Turner 17-yard pass from John David Booty; Danelo kick USC 14-3
6:46 UW TD Kenny James 6-yard pass from Isaiah Stanback; Braunstein kick. USC 14-10
:51 USC FG Danelo 34-yard kick USC 17-10
3rd qtr
12:53 UW FG Braunstein 25-yard kick. USC 17-13
9:38 USC FG Danelo 25-yard kick. USC 20-13
4:11 USC FG Danelo 32-yard kick. USC 23-13
4th qtr
10:06 UW TD Johnie Kirton 6-yard pass from Stanback; Braunstein kick. USC 23-20
1:34 USC FG Danelo 21-yard field goal. USC 26-20


Statistic UW USC
Total First Downs 19 21
  Rushing 7 10
  Passing 11 11
  Penalty 1 0
Total Net Yards 379 411
Net Yards Passing 212 263
Net Yards Rushing 167 148
Completions-att-int 17-39-0 24-41-1
Punts, yards, average 5-177; 35.4 2-86;43.0
Times sacked (number, yards) 0-0 0-0
Return Yardage 74 121
  Punts Yards 2-8 2-23
  Kickoff Yards 2-58 4-98
 Interceptions returns Yds 1-8 0-0
Penalties Yards 4-25 8-70
Fumbles: number/lost 2-0 2-0
Time of Possession  27:44 32:16

Passing cmp att yds tds int
USC          
John David Booty 23 40 243 1 1
Michael McDonald 1 1 20 1 0
Washington          
Isaiah Stanback 17 38 212 2 0
           

USC Rushing
att yds tds long  
Chauncey Washington 17 81 0 23  
Emmanuel Moody 15 67 0 17  
           
Washington Rushing att yds tds long
Isaiah Stanback 10 33 0 11  
Kenny James 13 84 0 24  
Louis Rankin 6 10 0 8  
Marlon Wood 1 46 0 46  
Team 1 -6 0 -6  
           
USC Pass Receiving rec yds tds long
Patrick Turner 2 116 1 29
Steve Smith 5 96 1 51  
Chauncey Washingon 2 17 0 17  
Fred Davis 2 15 0 9  
Vidal Hazelton 1 8 0 8  
Jody Adelwale 1 6 0 6  
Dwayne Jarrett 1 5 0 5  
           
Washington Pass Rec. rec yds tds long
Anthony Russo 1 14 0 14  
Johnie Kirton 1 6 1 6  
Marcel Reece 1 12 0 12  
Sonny Shackelford 9 125 0 19  
Cody Ellis 3 44 0 24  
Kenny James 2 11 1 6  
           
Punting punts yds long Avg
USC
Greg Woidneck 2 86 45 43.0  
           
Washington          
Sean Douglas 4 177 68 44.2  
           
Attendance: 90,282          

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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