My main story in today’s News Tribune is on that amazing 69-yard touchdown pass Isaiah Stanback threw to Craig Chambers in the Arizona game last season.
Without any real news (well, it’s still hot here) until the 7 p.m. kickoff, I’ve dug up the story I wrote about that pass that night. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it because it’s almost a year old, but for anyone interested in more detail or how it seemed at the time, here is is:
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Washington Huskies’ prayer was answered Saturday night.
On the last play before halftime – a play literally called "Hail Mary" – the Huskies connected on the season’s highlight-reel touchdown, and it started a 31-point avalanche that carried them to a 38-14 win over Arizona on Saturday night.
Isaiah Stanback’s towering throw traveled more than 70 yards in the air before Craig Chambers leapt in stride over the UA secondary and stepped into the end zone.
"It was probably the best pass he’s ever thrown to me," Chambers said. "It just happened to be a 70-yarder."
Technically, the pass wasn’t supposed to be thrown directly to Chambers. The play is called in nothing-to-lose situations, and the ball is supposed to come down short of the goal, with some other receiver batting the ball and Chambers swooping in to catch the deflection.
It didn’t work out that way because Stanback amazed observers all over Arizona Stadium by launching a throw that traveled about as far as anyone could imagine – and farther than Chambers expected, even though he had been warned.
"Before we went to the huddle he said, ‘Just run. Just keep on running. Don’t stop,’" Chambers said. "I got to the 20, I turned around to look for the ball and thought, ‘Oh (no).’ I picked up my stride a little bit and got to the end zone. That was probably one of the best passes I’ve ever had."
Stanback almost didn’t get a chance to throw it.
He had been sacked on the previous play, and coach Tyrone Willingham admits he considered having his quarterback take a knee.
"They were thinking about running the clock out," Stanback said. "I looked at where we were at (the Washington 31) and I said, ‘I can throw it from here.’ I’ve thrown it 80 yards before, just not in a game. I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ And they said, ‘Why not?’"
They said that even though offensive coordinator Tim Lappano was skeptical Stanback could throw a ball that far and had so little faith in the play that he was headed for the coaches box elevator when Stanback let loose.
"He’s told me – and I don’t believe him – that he could throw it 80 yards," Lappano said. "He just launched it. I was on my way out of the box, and I just saw (Chambers) reach, and I said, ‘Oh my God.’ It was unbelievable."
It also may have traveled every inch of the 80 yards Stanback claimed. The pass goes into the record books as a 69-yarder, but Stanback was several yards behind the line of scrimmage, and the pass traveled from the middle of the field to the sideline.
While the distance might be debated, everyone agreed on the affect. The Huskies were energized, the Wildcats were stunned, and Washington romped to its second win of the season.
"It gave us a different mindset going into the half than if we would have been down 14-7," Stanback said. "Everybody said let’s take advantage of it this time."