Tales of Husky Football History: 1950 UW-WSU

Nov. 15, 2006

By Tom Porter
Special GoHuskies.com contributing writer

Congratulations to Steve Emtman for his induction into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame. Our tale this week includes two other Huskies that are members of the College Football Hall of Fame -- Don Heinrich and Hugh McElhenny.

On November 25, 1950, Washington traveled to Spokane to play for what was then called the Governor's Trophy, a trophy awarded to the winner of the cross-state matchup, beginning in 1934. The rivalry game changed to the Apple Cup in 1962 and is sponsored by the Washington State Apple Commission and presented by the state's governor.

In 1950, the 18th-ranked Huskies beat Washington State, 52-21. The game was not memorable because of the score but because of one of the most bizarre finishes in collegiate football history. With under two minutes left, Washington was leading 45-14. Earlier, it had been announced that Heinrich, an All-America quarterback selection that year, had set a national single-season pass completion record with 134 completions. With the record and game in hand, the Huskies turned to the ground game to help McElhenny, an All-Coast running back, set a Pacific Coast Conference single-season rushing record.

But wait. Athletics Director, Harvey Cassill and Bert Rose, Sports Media Director learned that Heinrich had only tied the record. After the mistake was discovered, assistant coach Reg Root, tried to telephone the Husky bench about the error, but the connection was dead. Rose's assistant, Bill Manley, then dashed to the public address announcer and the information was relayed over the system's loudspeaker to everyone in the Spokane stadium.

Another problem -- the Cougars had the ball and Washington had no time-outs left. Clyde Seiler, a Husky defensive tackle, rushed on the field, yelling to let the Cougars score. On the next play, Dick Gambold passed 21 yards to John Rowley for the score. Dick Sprague, the All-America safety, just let Rowley catch the ball and run into the end zone untouched.

With just 50 seconds to go, the Huskies went to work to get both records. Roland Kirkby took the kickoff and ran straight out of bounds. Heinrich's first pass to Joe Cloidt was incomplete. The next one was the record-breaker -- a short pass in the flat to Kirkby for no gain. Quickly they huddled to call a rushing play and it was a very good one.

On the snap, Heinrich pitched out to McElhenny on a sweep around right end. The King broke loose for 84 yards and his fifth touchdown of the day. The run gave McElhenny 296 yards for the game (still a Husky record) and 1,107 for the season -- a new PCC record.


Tom Porter has co-authored (with Jim Daves) two books on Husky athletics -- The Glory of Washington: The People and Events that Shaped the Husky Athletic Tradition and Husky Stadium: Great Games and Golden Moments. He has just completed another book, to be published in 2007 -- A Football Band of Brothers: Forging the University of Washington's First National Championship.

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