Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Greatest Sporting Feat I've Ever Witnessed
By Zach

I saw Jeremy's recent post over at Sports and Bremertonians, and it inspired me (and hopefully the rest of the Sportszilla crew) to write about the greatest sporting event I've ever been to.

Well, there are a few I could choose from. When it comes to opposing players, I saw Antawn Jamison drop 51 points on the Sonics a few years back. While that was a great game, it doesn't stand out too much, because most of the points were mid-range jumpers. If it's possible, it was a forgettable 51.

Randy Johnson's performance in the one-game playoff against the California Angels was extraordinary, throwing all 9 innings, allowing three hits, one walk, striking out 12, and allowing only a meaningless solo homer to Tony Phillips with the Mariners up 9-0 in the 9th. If I were talking about the greatest game I've ever been to, that would be it.

But no, the greatest single achievement I've ever witnessed was on a gray, rainy Saturday afternoon in October of 1999 (there aren't many other kinds of Saturday afternoons most Octobers in Seattle). My best friend Kyle and I got tickets to watch the University of Washington play Stanford in a huge matchup. Stanford was undefeated in the Pac-10, while Washington had just one loss. A win would put the Dawgs atop the conference, and even better, the tickets were free. Still, we were sitting in the exposed end of the stadium, and a fierce wind was whipping off Lake Washington. We hunkered down with bowls of clam chowder and prayed that the boys in purple would take care of business quickly.

It didn't look good early. UW star quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo left the game early in the first quarter with a "back" injury (he got slammed to the turf on his ass). Meanwhile, Stanford jumped out to a 14-3 lead. Tui returned shortly, but we figured that with the injury he'd be limited to pocket passing. Since the Huskies ran an awful lot of option with him at QB, that looked like a problem.

Well, it was on that day that I learned that I should never could Marques out of a game. In what would prove to be a common site for Husky fans, he came up huge. I recall he broke free in the second quarter for a long run which set up the Huskies first TD, and he punched it in himself twice in the second half. Trailing 23-12 in the third quarter, he led the Huskies on a 99-yard touchdown drive which got them back in the game. Along the way, he kept flinging the ball down the field. In the end, the Huskies won 35-30, putting themselves atop the Pac-10, at least for the day.

Kyle and I couldn't believe our luck. We'd seen one of the truly couragous performances in Seattle sports history. What we didn't learn until the way home was first that Marques could barely walk on the sidelines, that he had to be helped up and down the stairs to the locker room at halftime, and that he'd become the first (and still only) player in NCAA football history to throw for 300 and run for 200 yards in the same game.

Marques remains my favorite Husky of all time. Perhaps it's because he led the team to the Rose Bowl for the first (and only) time since the Don James era (and he won it). Or that as long as he was under center, I never thought the Huskies were out of a game. But I'm sure a part of it was that I got to see him make sports history with my own two eyes (and very cold hands).

Marques links:

Box Score

Game Stories:
Seattle Times
Seattle P-I

Seattle Columnists:
Steve Kelley
Laura Vescey


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