Marques Tuiasosopo passed for 302 yards and ran for 207 more, leading Washington to a comeback victory over visiting Stanford in 1999. Eleven years later, to the day, another hot Stanford team comes to Husky Stadium.
Saturday, Oct. 30. A gray, overcast day at Husky Stadium. A hot Stanford team in town.
Those with a taste for nostalgia and a good recall for dates remember when the same setting that’s in store for Washington on Saturday put in place maybe the greatest individual performance in the history of Husky football.
It was exactly 11 years ago Saturday, against the same Stanford Cardinal team playing here this weekend, that Marques Tuiasosopo threw for 302 yards and ran for 207 more, becoming the first — and still only — player to achieve each of those milestones in one game.
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“Just an incredible effort,” UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, then the UW coach, recalled this week. “But he had a lot of those.”
Yes Tuiasosopo did, leading the Huskies to their last great season, an 11-1 record in 2000 and a Rose Bowl title.
But it’s the 300-200 game in 1999 that might have been his most memorable. Tuiasosopo, though, said he wasn’t aware of the coincidence of Stanford coming to town on the same date this season until told this week.
In fact, Tuiasosopo, now an assistant strength coach with the UW football team, says he’s never again watched the game other than the usual review he did the following week.
“It was cool,” he said. “But it’s not like you play the game to do that. If we had lost, who cares?”
And that might be one of the more amazing aspects of Tuiasosopo’s historic day, that the Huskies needed every one of his yards to hold on for a 35-30 win over Stanford in a game that was a showdown for first place in the conference.
Washington trailed 23-12 early in the third quarter before rallying. Tuiasosopo got the final rushing yards he needed to pass 200 on UW’s last drive of the game, which gave the Huskies a 35-23 lead and finally secured the win (Stanford, coached by Tyrone Willingham, scored one last TD on the final play of the game).
What those who were there also remember is how Tuiasosopo got almost all of those yards on just one good leg. Tuiasosopo suffered a bruised backside and a hip pointer early in the game when he was knocked hard to the ground (it was the last year UW had its old artificial turf instead of the FieldTurf) by Stanford linebacker Riall Johnson.
“He was rendered almost immobile,” said Neuheisel. “When he wasn’t playing, he had to go into the locker room and get a shot, and he had to keep jogging on the sidelines. They brought a bike out for him on the sidelines to pedal and keep himself loose. He was hurt for the entire game.”
What those who participated in the game also remember is that many of Tuiasosopo’s rushing yards came via a new play — the G option — installed that week.
That was Neuheisel’s first year at UW, and after going with a West Coast offense the first two games and losing both, the Huskies shifted to more of an option look to suit Tuiasosopo’s talents.
The Stanford game was the eighth of the year for UW and by then, the coaches felt comfortable expanding the playbook.
Washington didn’t run it until the second series of the game, but it worked for 28 yards the first time.
“We kept calling it and they didn’t stop it, so we were just dumb enough to keep calling it,” Gilbertson said. Tuiasosopo had 22 rushing attempts that day, a career high.
The passing (also a career-high) was dictated largely by UW falling behind early.
Tuiasosopo threw two interceptions and UW had four turnovers overall, the main reasons UW never led until late in the third quarter despite rolling up 670 yards, third-highest in school history.
Tuiasosopo’s injury limited him the next three weeks — he said he didn’t practice again the rest of the regular season — and contributed to a loss at UCLA two weeks later that knocked UW out of the Rose Bowl hunt. Stanford, which didn’t lose again in conference play, played in Pasadena.
Tuiasosopo led another remarkable comeback against Stanford the next year in Palo Alto as the Huskies finally got back to the Rose Bowl. But the history of that game is overshadowed by an injury that paralyzed safety Curtis Williams.
The memories of 1999, though, remain full of nothing but joy, especially of the locker room afterward, when it began to hit everyone what they had just seen.
“We knew we were having a good day offensively, moving it and scoring points and piling up yards,” Gilbertson said. “We just didn’t know they were all his.”
• QB Jake Locker took all the snaps with the first team and UW coach Steve Sarkisian said later it was his best week of practice in a month.
• TE Chris Izbicki did not practice in the team sessions after spraining a foot in practice Wednesday, but will try to play.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.