Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Kenny Wheaton

Kenny Wheaton's (20) famous interception

A very famous Duck celebrated a birthday recently.  A player responsible for maybe the most significant play in Duck history.  That player is Kenny Wheaton.  That play is known as "the pick."

It's one of those moments in sports where you knew where you were, and what you were doing at the time.  To understand its significance you need to know the back story.  Now better articles have been written before about the pick I'm sure, and most people who read my site already understand it, but for those who don't I'll break it down for ya.

The season was 1994.  Going into the game versus Washington, Oregon was just 3-3, and people in Eugene were growing impatient with head coach Rich Brooks.  Coming to Autzen that day was bitter rival Washington.

At that time, the rivalry was one-sided.  It was ALL Washington.  Prior to that game, they had only lost to the Ducks three times going back to 1973.  And Husky fans loved to rub it in to Duck fans.

Coming into this game, Washington was nationally ranked, were 5-1, and heavy favorites.  So when the Ducks had a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter, the Husky fans in attendance that day (who were probably equal to the number of Duck fans, if not more) were probably caught off guard.

To Ducks fans, they were probably hoping the Ducks would hang on, but wouldn't have been surprised if they blew it.  It sure looked like that was gonna happen in the games winding moments.

With time wounding down in the fourth quarter, the Huskies were driving.  They got all the way to the Ducks nine yard line, when Damon Huard's pass was intercepted by freshman Kenny Wheaton, and returned 97 yards for the touchdown.

Oregon won 30-21!

The play propelled the Ducks to a conference championship, and their first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 years.  The tide has also turned in the rivalry with Washington:  Oregon is 13-4 vs. the Huskies since that play, including a recent stretch of eight straight wins.


  1. I still get shivers every time I see it. I remember where I was. I like to que it up at the 5 minute to go mark just to build up the suspense.

  2. The whole moment: Huard back to pass...Kenny bolting down the field...Jerry screaming his lungs out: It's The Holy Grail of Duck lore!