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Monday, September 17, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Greatest UW Moment: Jackson's '78 Rose Bowl Play

-- Editor's note: For the 100th year of Husky football, we asked Times readers to name Washington's greatest player, coach, team, game and moment. We received more than 300 responses. Today, in the first of five parts, the readers' picks for the greatest moment.

For one voter, it simply was Warren Moon just ``standing on the field'' after the 27-20 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan in 1978.

For another, it was the smile on Roland Kirkby's face after he caught a touchdown pass against Notre Dame in 1949.

For still another, it was Blair Bush taking three guys out with one cross-body block in 1977.

The greatest moments of the first century of Husky football according to University of Washington fans range from the dramatic to the timely, from the bizarre to the melancholy. They're almost as varied as the fans themselves, who remembered:

The game-winning touchdown drive engineered by Chris Chandler against USC in 1985; Hugh McElhenny's 100-yard punt return for a touchdown against USC in 1951; Spider Gaines' reception of a tipped pass from Warren Moon that he turned into a touchdown run in Washington's ``miracle'' victory over Washington State in 1975.

How about George Wilson and Elmer Tesreau stopping Stanford's Ernie Nevers from scoring in 1925? Or, later that season, Hal Shidler's dropkick field goal that ``bounced twice on the goal post'' before it went over to clinch a 15-14 win over Oregon.

One fan recalled the coin toss prior to the Washington-USC game in Husky Stadium in 1979. ``There was not a dry eye in the place when Joe Steele came out for the coin toss on crutches.'' That was two weeks after he had suffered a career-ending knee injury against UCLA.

But no moment was of greater significance for more voters than the one that occurred with 1 minute seconds to play in the 1978 Rose Bowl game: Michael Jackson's interception of a Rick Leach pass intended for Stanley Edwards on the Husky 3-yard line that finally put a stop to what had been a relentless Wolverine comeback from 24-0 oblivion to 27-20 proximity.

Jackson's interception ``stopped the Michigan threat and essentially clinched the win,'' wrote one voter. ``It was Don James' first bowl win and brought the Washington program back to national prominence.''

Jackson never will forget it, he said, not only for what it meant but because of how he had ``visualized'' the situation in a dream the night before the game.

``It was weird,'' said Jackson, an outstanding linebacker out of Pasco who went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks. ``I had a dream the night before that between Leach and me was a receiver and I had to make a decision on how to cover him.''

Jackson said down and distance factors were not part of the dream, nor was any kind of time element associated with the dream scene.

``But it was in slow motion all night long, so I already had seen that play when it happened,'' Jackson said.

Jackson, who was standing on the goal line when the play began, said he was determined not to let a receiver get underneath him in the end zone. As the play unfolded, he moved to his left and upfield to engage Edwards. As the two of them came together, Edwards seemed to lose control of the ball, which was up on a shoulder. Jackson reached in and got it.

Jackson said the interception was the moment he probably never will forget, but that he didn't consider it his best game. That, he said, was the Southern Cal game that season when he had two interceptions, 15 tackles and fumble recovery as Washington won 28-10.

There was a tie for the No. 2 ``moment'' between Steve Pelluer's two-point conversion pass to tight end Larry Michael that gave the Huskies a 25-24 victory over Michigan in 1983 in Husky Stadium and Don McKeta's run around Oregon's Dave Grayson for the Husky touchdown in a 7-6 victory over the Ducks in 1961.

Michael's catch came after Pelluer led the Huskies 80 yards in the final 3:40 to a touchdown scored by Mark Pattison on a 7-yard pass. Shunning a likely tie, James went for the victory, and when Michael caught the two-point conversion pass, bedlam broke out in Husky Stadium.

``I hear Bob Rondeau's replay over the radio and I still get chills,'' wrote one fan.

McKeta's memorable touchdown play against Oregon began at the Ducks' 47, fourth down and 6. Bob Hivner lobbed a short pass to McKeta, who made the catch at the 35 and appeared to be headed out of bounds to stop the clock. Grayson, perhaps figuring McKeta was headed to the sideline, appeared to relax momentarily. McKeta, instead, ran around Grayson and down the sideline to the touchdown that set up George Fleming's winning extra-point kick.

The No. 4 moment was Fred Small's recovery of a Chuck Nelson kickoff in the end zone that clinched Washington's 13-3 victory over USC on a stormy day in 1981. Ten of the Huskies' points were scored with 2:19 to play - a 46-yard field goal by Nelson, Small's recovery of the ensuing kickoff (the ball brushed a Trojan before it went into the end zone) and Nelson's extra-point kick.

There was a three-way tie for the fifth most remembered moment: Lee Folkins' diving touchdown catch in the end zone during Washington's 44-8 victory over Wisconsin in the 1960 Rose Bowl; the field goal kicked with no time left by Frank Corral of USC that beat UCLA in 1977 and sent the Huskies to the 1978 Rose Bowl; the ``Sooner Schooner'' getting flagged for a penalty during the 1985 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma.

One reader ignored the other categories and used his coupon to vote only for the greatest moment. He chose three that, apparently, he hopes will happen in the future: (1) The day Mike Lude retires; (2) The day Dr. Gerberding runs the athletic department instead of the other way around; (3) The day Sam Adkins is no longer on Husky radio broadcasts.

Another was not nearly as caustic.

``With the exception of the losses to Oregon State, Navy and Alabama,'' he wrote, ``aren't they all great moments?'

HUSKY MOMENTS - THE TOP FIVE

-- 1. Michael Jackson's pass interception that preserved Washington's victory over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl game (34 votes).

-- 2. (tie) Steve Pelluer's two-point conversion pass that capped a dramatic comeback victory over Michigan in 1983 (19 votes).

-- 2. (tie) Don McKeta staying inbounds and running around Oregon's Dave Grayson for a TD in 1961 game Washington won 7-6 (19 votes).

-- 4. Fred Small's end zone recovery of a fumbled USC kickoff in stormy 1981 game won by the Huskies 13-3 (9 votes).

-- 5. (tie) Lee Folkins' diving touchdown catch in the end zone during Washington's 44-8 victory over Wisconsin in the 1960 Rose Bowl (7 votes).

-- 5. (tie) The field goal kicked with no time left by Frank Corral of USC that beat UCLA in 1977 and sent the Huskies to the 1978 Rose Bowl (7 votes).

-- 5. (tie) The ``Sooner Schooner'' getting flagged for a penalty during 1985 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma (7 votes).

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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