On this day 25 years ago, Jay Barry rushes for 143 yards and an ill Beno Bryant scores the winning TD to help No. 3 UW avoid an upset at Cal.
Beno Bryant had been ill for a couple weeks. Surely, Husky fans were sick at the idea of watching perfect season hanging in the balance as No. 3 Washington struggled on the road against No. 7 California.
Coupled with another strong defensive showing, it was backup running back Jay Barry who helped save the Huskies from the Bears’ upset bid on this day 25 years ago.
Barry rushed for 143 yards on 19 carries, and Bryant scored the winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter as the Huskies escaped Berkeley with their closest victory of their 1991 national-championship season.
Here’s our weekly review of The Seattle Times archives from that season:
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Headline: HUSKIES WIN AND BEAR IT: Bryant’s TD helps UW avoid upset
Published: Oct. 20, 1991
By Dick Rockne
Seattle Times staff reporter
BERKELEY, Calif. — Beno Bryant, 10 pounds light and still battling an illness that had caused him to pass out two days earlier, scored the biggest touchdown of his career yesterday as Washington avoided an upset in Strawberry Canyon and took a major step toward Pasadena.
Bryant, his head stuffed up and his ears plugged, broke a tie with a 65-yard touchdown run on the third play of the fourth quarter, and the defense hung in to preserve a 24-17 victory over California.
Bryant’s touchdown run was an almost immediate response to a 68-yard scoring run by Cal’s Lindsey Chapman on the last play from scrimmage of the third quarter. The up-the-middle blast past blitzing Huskies had pulled the Golden Bears into a 17-17 tie to the delight of most of the 74,500 fans in Memorial Stadium.
With the win over the No. 7-ranked Bears (now 5-1), the No. 3 Huskies (6-0) took the lead in the Pac-10 Conference race to the Rose Bowl and maintained a shot at the national championship.
But it wasn’t easy.
The Bears, behind two big offensive plays and a defense that gave the Huskies as much trouble as they encountered at Nebraska Sept. 21, were not silenced until the game ended.
Senior quarterback Mike Pawlawski, who had thrown for one touchdown in the first quarter, was throwing for a second one on the game’s final two plays.
On second down from the Washington 22 with 5 seconds to play, Pawlawski threw over the middle for Mike Caldwell, who was in the end zone between two Huskies. The ball was just off his fingertips as time expired.
But Washington was penalized for being off side (Cal also was flagged, for holding), and because a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, the Bears had one more chance.
For the occasion, the Bears selected a pass calling for their best receiver, Brian Treggs, to run a corner route to the left. But Treggs, well defended by Walter Bailey, never had a chance to make a catch before the ball hit the turf.
“With a quarterback like Pawlawski they know if they keep it close he can win it for them. And he almost did,” said Husky Coach Don James.
Pawlawski did not have one of his better games, completing 18 of 41 passes (43.9 percent) for 215 yards and two interceptions.
Neither did Husky quarterback Billy Joe Hobert (15 of 34 for 189 yards with one touchdown and one interception). But if the Huskies didn’t get a big day from their quarterback, they did get one from their tailbacks, Jay Barry and Bryant. Barry gained 143 yards on 19 carries and scored a touchdown. Bryant gained 99 on 12 carries and met one big challenge.
After Chapman scored to pull Cal into a tie, Bryant said he acknowledged his godbrother, Sean Dunbar, 18, who was in the stands.
“It was kind of crazy,” Bryant said. “I turned around after the guy ran and he (Dunbar) was like, `It’s your turn, it’s your turn.’
“And I said, `You just watch. You just watch.’ “
After Bryant scored he came back and he said he told Dunbar: “What did I tell you? What did I tell you?”
The scoring play began with Bryant running into the middle, where he confronted a Cal defender. Beno broke to his right, toward the sideline, and took off. He never was touched.
Bryant called it the biggest touchdown of his career. That it came while he was sick made it doubly remarkable.
Bryant said he has been sick for 2-1/2 weeks. During practice Thursday, he passed out.
“It just all came together and I fell out at practice,” Bryant said. “All I remember was getting dizzy and walking over to someone and grabbing on. The next thing I know they’re sitting me up and telling me to move my legs.”
With Bryant feeling better yesterday but still not 100 percent, the Huskies made good use of their depth at tailback. Barry gained 90 yards in the first half on seven carries.
But the Bears had their big plays, too. For the first time in three-plus games – since the third quarter of the Nebraska game – the Huskies fell behind, 7-0, when Pawlawski connected with Sean Dawkins on a 59-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 to play in the first quarter. Dawkins had a step on cornerback Dana Hall when he caught the ball at the sideline at the Husky 32.
The play snapped Washington’s string of 13 straight quarters without yielding a touchdown.
The Huskies answered immediately when Hobert and Mario Bailey combined on a 35-yard touchdown pass to cap an 80-yard, five-play series that tied the score at 7. Barry set up the touchdown with runs of 15 and 22 yards.
Washington took the lead, 10-7, but Cal answered with a 50-yard field goal by Doug Brien to tie the score at 10-10.
Barry’s 9-yard run up the middle in the final minute of the half gave the Huskies a 17-10 lead. It was their third score in their last four possessions of the half and appeared in control.
But mistakes and missed opportunities kept the Bears in contention. Washington’s only non-scoring drive of the second quarter ended when Hobert was intercepted at the Cal 5. A holding penalty early in the third quarter nullified a 39-yard pass play to Orlando McKay that would have taken the ball to the Cal 7. That drive died. Hanson missed a 34-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter and a 42-yarder in the fourth, the latter after another holding penalty negated a 13-yard touchdown run by Barry.
Hobert completed just four of 15 passes for 36 yards in the second half.
“I didn’t throw very well,” he said.
But except for Cal’s two long touchdown plays, which accounted for 127 yards, the Husky defense played stout. The Bears, who had been averaging 481 yards per game, were held to 329.
“Defensively, we were as good as we were against Nebraska, but we should have moved the ball,” Hobert said.
He added that 24 points were not satisfactory.
“That’s pathetic for the University of Washington.”
But this time it was enough.
Headline: HUSKIES KNEW THEY WERE IN A FIGHT
Published: Oct. 20, 1991
By Blaine Newnham
Seattle Times columnist
BERKELEY, Calif. — Billy Joe Hobert didn’t know what to think, whether to be sad or glad, whether to laugh or cry, jump up or throw up.
The roar of 75,000 football fans, enjoying their finest day since Cal used five laterals on the last play of the game to deck the Stanford trombone player and win the 1982 Big Game, was still in Hobert’s ears.
His Washington team won 24-17, but he was left standing on the sidelines as Walter Bailey batted away Cal’s final fling — a pass to Brian Treggs at the 2-yard line — with no time left on the clock.
“My heart was racing,” Hobert said. “It was fun to watch. I’ll bet ABC loved it.”
It was a wonderful theater on a day blessed for football. Cal fans left assured that their team can now compete with the big boys of college football, and the Huskies departed knowing they have a few acts to clean up before they can convince voters they are better than Florida State.
“Special?” said Hobert, repeating a question. “I don’t think there was anything special about our win today.
“I’d call it lucky. Special is winning the national championship 27-26 on the last play of the game.”
The confusion of it all.
The Washington players had a strong sense that they indeed had been in a battle befitting No. 3 against No. 7, unbeaten against unbeaten.
“This was the first time a team has put it to our butts for four quarters this season,” Hobert said. “I have a pretty good feeling they will be 10-1; they almost went 11-0.”
Mario Bailey, on the other hand, said, “It was real frustrating. We knew we could move the ball on them anytime we wanted. We’d break a big play and then see it get called back. We should have scored 20 more points. The offense self-destructed.”
It did and it didn’t.
Cal is well coached. The Bears put pressure on Hobert, running players at him the way the Huskies did Mike Pawlawski, who suffered through his worst day in a long time, completing just 18 of 41 passes.
It was an old-fashioned shootout, gambling defenses making big plays and giving them up.
When the game settled down, which wasn’t often, Washington was the superior team. The Huskies had more first downs (21-15), more yards rushing (252-114) and more yards total offense (441-329). But they also had more penalties (8-5) and, worst of all, came up with only three points on four possessions inside the Cal 15.
In the final minutes, Washington could have walked away with a two-touchdown lead, impressing voters but perhaps deceiving themselves and degrading Cal. Jay Barry waltzed 13 yards into the end zone for what appeared to be a 30-17 lead.
A holding call nullified the gain.
“We’re walking out of here knowing that we were in a real fight for our lives,” said Don James, the Washington coach. “We made enough mistakes to lose a game. We’ve got to go back and go to work and get better. We’ve got a ton of things to correct.”
The Huskies weren’t very good, and yet they were good enough when it counted. At the end of the season, when all is said and done, when all of the games are played and the votes taken, this might well be the game that was most important for Washington.
To understand what Washington went through, you almost had to be there to feel the tension and excitement in the air, to see with how much daring and desire the Bears mustered in this desperate shot at returning to the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than 30 years. Three times they went for a first down on fourth-and-inches. Three times they made it.
Nebraska was on a mission; Cal was on a holy crusade.
“Cal had us on the edge and we didn’t know what to do,” said Beno Bryant. “The crowd was going wild, we didn’t know what to check to, our backs were going the wrong way. I’m just glad we won.”
Obviously Hobert was having a bad day. He didn’t cope with the Cal blitz as well as his background — facing it every day in practice — might have suggested. At times he overthrew Bailey deep, other times, he just didn’t see him.
“They gave us the long ball all day long,” Hobert said, “but we just didn’t connect. Their defense was better than I thought. In the second half, they seemed to be picking up my checks. The crowd was real wild, and the guys couldn’t hear me. I just wasn’t making very good checks or throws, that’s all.”
On a day when Hobert completed only 15 of 34 passes for 189 yards — he also threw an interception that killed what might have been a game-breaking drive — a couple of little running backs stepped forward.
It wasn’t surprising that Bryant should make the game-winning play — a 65-yard burst up the middle and then to the outside — but it was surprising that Jay Barry should run like Hugh McElhenny. In all, Barry had 143 yards in 19 carries.
Barry is a competitor. He was as feisty after the game as he was during it.
“Improved?” he said. “The only ones who think I’m improved are you guys. I thought I was good from the beginning.”
Barry praised the work of the offensive line, which did a good job wearing down the Bears. Bryant praised Barry.
“People knock Jay Barry,” Bryant said. “They say he doesn’t have the speed or the eyesight to be a great back. He showed today he has both. He did a great job.”
James slumped in a chair as the interviews concluded.
“I’m exhausted,” he said, “I’m too old to go through this.”
What he went through, in the end, was Washington’s sixth straight victory, one that gave the Huskies the inside track for a return to Pasadena, one that was accomplished despite their own mistakes and on a California day made for an upset.