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Randy York’s N-sider
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
10/07/2007
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To "Respond to Randy" click on the above link and choose "Randy York's N-sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and hometown and tell us where you were and how you remember Matt Davison’s miracle catch that kept top-ranked Nebraska on track for its third national championship in four years. Your ideas may be published on "Randy York's N-sider" page on Huskers.com. Please check back for updated comments.

Where were you when the Miracle in Missouri happened? I was on the edge of my seat in a red recliner in my basement in Overland Park, Kan.

I wasn’t the only one glued to a 50-inch TV that seemed more like a drive-in theater screen for this nationally televised classic. My wife, Linda, a fellow Nebraska graduate, was also zeroed in on the action. So were Bill and Kathy Werner, Missouri alums who live a few houses up the street.

The Huskers, 29-point favorites, had just fallen behind, 38-31 with 62 seconds left and 67 yards of Faurot Field to cover.

“Nebraska’s going to win,” Bill predicted.

“Bill,” I said, “we’re a run-oriented team, and we don’t have any timeouts left.”

“Mark my words,” he replied. “Nebraska will go right down the field because that’s what they do.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Catch In Pictures

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More on Davison's Catch

New York Times:

 

Columbia Tribune

 

Rivals.com Davison Interview (2006):

 

Book Link: Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys:

 

Dennis Dodd calls it the “Best game he has ever seen.”

 

Wikipedia's emtry “Flea Kicker”:

 

Scout.com Lists it as the No. 25 Greatest Finish of All Time:

 

ESPN.com ranked it as the No. 44 Greatest Finish of the Decade of the 1990’s

With apologies to Paul Harvey and everyone reading this, you know the rest of the story. On one of the most remembered plays in college football history, Matt Davison made a game-saving touchdown catch that preserved the Huskers' national championship season.

Scott Frost threw into a crowd of Nebraska and Mizzou players, and the Huskers’ Shevin Wiggins kept the ball alive with a desperation kick that fell into the hands of a diving Davison. This is the 10th anniversary of that famous play, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

“I’m leaving,” my neighbor told me the instant he figured out what had happened.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because the game is over,” he said.

“We haven’t even tied you guys yet,” I reminded him. “What about overtime?”

My usually mild-mannered friend got up from his chair and stopped at the bottom of the steps. Sensing a volcanic reaction from the Army Ranger that’s still part of his DNA, his wife persuaded Bill to wait. Once Nebraska scored in overtime, he looked at me, shook his head and said: “I’m sorry, Randy. I need to go home. I don’t want to hear Brent Musburger describe something I never want to see or hear again.”

Sorry, Bill. Here’s another chance . . . for you and everyone else to remember the call.

Again, the question of the week awaits your response: Where were you when the Miracle in Missouri happened? Davison says he gets asked about the catch six to 10 times a week.

"If everyone who says they were at Faurot Field that day was really there, the crowd would have been about 200,000 people," said Davison, who won an ESPY Award for that play.

So fess up. I did. And while you're at it, do you think Fox Sports did Davison's catch justice by ranking the "kick play" as the fourth best among the 50 Most Spectacular Plays of all time? Four other Nebraska plays made that list, so check it out.

That’s not all, folks. For this N-sider, we had the chance to sit down with Davison and get his thoughts on his memorable catch. We also talked to him about Saturday’s showdown in Columbia and here's what he had to say about Missouri's home-field advantage

Husker Q and A: Matt Davision
RY: Heading into that final drive, you had not caught a pass in the previous 17 quarters. Did you know going in how much of a role you would eventually play in that drive? How much did you work on the 2-minute offense in practice each week? (Davison).

RY: Going 67 yards in 62 seconds without a timeout. One of the things people forget is that you had to convert a pair of third-downs to keep the drive alive. In fact, your first catch of the day was a 13-yarder on 3rd-and-10. Talk about what was said in the huddle going into that drive and the play you made to help set up the final play. (Davison)

RY:Describe the final play...and is it true that the play (99 double slant) had not been run all season until Scott Frost called it in the huddle? (Davison)

RY:In the days following the catch, you said, "It doesn't seem as big to me as everybody else. If we go on to win the national championship, then it will be a bigger thing." When did you realize how special a moment the catch truly was? Could you have ever imagined that your first college touchdown would be a play that would be one of the greatest plays in college football history? (Davison)

RY: Rumor has it that when Nebraska went back to Missouri two years later, the first place you went was to the same end zone during the team walk-through. Tell us what that was like to be back on that field, and then to score your second touchdown in the same end zone the next day. (Davison)

RY: You’ve probably heard from college fans across the country about that play, especially when is replayed on ESPN Classic. How does it feel to be associated with a play that is etched in the minds of college football fans? (Davison)

RY: People don’t remember that you also hold the school record for most receiving yards in a game and that you finished your career with 93 catches in a run-based offense. Admit it, how many catches would you have if NU ran the West Coast Offense in your playing days? (Davison)

RY: One of the off-chutes of the play was the media attention you received from it. How did that help you eventually turn your career interests to broadcasting and your work now in the broadcast booth? (Davison

RY: As someone who has gone down to Faurot Field and won twice during your career, what is it going to take for the Huskers to be successful on Saturday? (Davison)

RY:With the 10-year anniversary of the 1997 national championship team next weekend, how special was it to be a freshman and play such a part in not only a national title team, but also the last team that Tom Osborne coached at Nebraska?  (Davison)

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We also spoke with Husker Sports Network engineer Mike Elliott about his role in that classic contest and the delivery that helped make Davison's catch possible. If you’re looking for the funniest darn story about where someone was when the miracle in Missouri happened, check out Nebraska Media Relations Director Keith Mann and his account. He remembers something that’s going to be hard for anyone to top.

Mike Elliott
I was the chief engineer for the former Pinnacle Sports Network when Matt made his catch, and traveled to all road football games to produce and engineer the game broadcast.  Friday afternoon before the Missouri game I was standing in line at the Lincoln airport to check in for a (I believe it was Frontier Airlines) flight to Columbia.  A twin engine prop Convair 580 plane. While I was standing in line, Joni Duff (NU football secretary) walked into the terminal, carrying a box...with a sense of urgency on her face.  Joni told the airline agent she needed to send the box as air freight on the next flight to Columbia, Mo.  They told her the flight was full, therefore there probably wouldn't be room for extra air freight.  They couldn't guarantee it would get out on that flight...or even that day.  I overheard the conversation and got Joni's attention.  I asked the airline agent if I could take the box with me (luckily this was before 9/11 so it was not forbidden to take baggage that had not been in your posession).  I only had one bag to check and a small carry on bag...so the agent let me take the box.  Joni told me it contained special gloves that the football equipment managers ordered and had overnighted into Lincoln, but the package arrived at the Athletic Department too late to go on the team equipment truck, or any busses...so her option was to get it on a commercial flight as air freight.

Joni made sure she knew my flight number, and arrival time.  I told her I was staying at the team hotel, so would take the gloves to the hotel with me.  I carried the box on instead of checking it as luggage as my flight made a stop in Kansas City enroute to Columbia...so I didn't want the box to be lost in K.C. 

I got off the plane at the Jefferson City/Columbia airport, walked across the tarmac and into the terminal.  As soon as I was inside the terminal...here was equipment manager Glenn Abbott, anxiously awaiting my arrival...or more accurately...the arrival of the gloves.  He thanked me, and promptly left the airport and headed back to the team hotel.

Matt wore those special gloves to make "The Catch", and has saved them and never worn them since.  We all know it was Matt's talent that caught the ball...but I have a little pride in knowing my glove delivery may have contributed a little to "The Catch" and that season's national championship.

Joni Duff
I totally forgot about this, but Mike Elliott was correct in his story. The one thing I remember vividly was when I got to the airport there were several hunters with their dogs and guns in line trying to get on the flight and the line was very long. I was getting nervous because this was the only flight we could get anything on. I had a long conversation with the ticket agent when I finally got to her about what I needed, and she proceeded to tell me (like Mike said) they couldn’t guarantee me that it would get to Columbia. I know I had the look of panic that Mike described because I had no clue what I was going to do if they couldn’t get that box on the flight. I also had no idea who Mike was, so when I handed him the box I just hoped that he wasn’t just giving me a line. I even remember the airline agent looking at me like I was crazy giving this box to a total stranger. Well, the rest is history.

Keith Mann
In 1997, I was working as an assistant SID at Nebraska and part of my regular duty was to travel to road games with the football team. I knew well in advance that I would not be traveling to Mizzou that season, and instead would be serving as a groomsman in the wedding of one of my closest friends, Darin Johnson.

With an evening wedding, several of us in the wedding party watched the first quarter of the game before heading to the church. Of course, no wedding on a fall Saturday in Nebraska is complete without a television at the church. So, as we were taking pictures leading up to the ceremony, the guys in the wedding party were more than a little distracted by the developments in Columbia. The wedding actually started with the game early in the fourth quarter and things not looking good for the Big Red. A couple of the groomsmen may have been guilty of receiving updates by hand signals from the ushers in the back of the church during the ceremony. It is also true that the bride's uncle was sitting in the third row with a radio and headset on, but he will remain nameless.

Anyway, like any good Methodist wedding, the ceremony was very nice, but also very brief. As the wedding party was dismissed and allowed to proceed to the back of the church, we found our favorite 13-inch television. The Blackshirts had just stopped Missouri, and the offense was getting the ball back with one last chance to tie the game. As the drive continued and the bride and groom dismissed the large crowd of guests in the church, the crowd around the TV quickly grew (the pastor and I were front and center). A few minutes later, the loudest cheers in years were heard at Rockbrook Community Church in Omaha. Yes, everyone was very happy for Darin and Kari, but the uproar was because an 18-year-old freshman had just made himself famous.

As overtime started, the uncle with the radio came in handy. The ABC feed had technical problems, so he provided us with his play-by-play of the first couple plays of the winning scoring drive. As overtime continued, the crowd around the TV and the cheers from the back of the church continued to grow. It may have been record time for a bride and groom to dismiss 400 guests from a wedding.

The strange coincidence in all of this is that Darin and Matt Davison bear a remarkable resemblance to each other. Darin, in fact, has actually been congratulated by more than one fan for his great catch at Missouri.

The Voices of Husker Nation

 


"Ten years ago my 9-year-old son was watching the Nebraska-Missouri game with disbelief and sadness. His Huskers were losing to the Tigers and he suddenly realized that it would cost Nebraska the national championship. He looked at me with tears in his eyes: 'All I want is one miracle, Dad, just one!' The next play, Frost, Wiggins, Davison. Touchdown Nebraska. We've joked about Zach giving up his once-in-a-lifetime request for a miracle for Tom Osborne and a national championship over the years, and it came up on our way to the stadium this past weekend. I pointed out that he might want that wish back someday for his dear old Dad nearing the end of my life. Zach's response was all Husker, 'You had a great run Dad! Go Big Red! Go Huskers, tame the Tigers again.' - Rusty Hardy, BS, Nebraska 1988; MS, Nebraska, 1991

 

"I was in the car with my family listening to the final offensive drive of the Huskers. We pulled into the drive way I jumped out of my car, ran inside, turned the TV on and saw the final play and "The Catch." I jumped and started running around like a mad-man. I ran outside waving my hands yelling 'TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN!'  My parents thought I had lost my mind, but I will never forget that great moment in Nebraska history." - Zach Bowman (not Nebraska's current football captain)

"I enjoyed reading your account of Matt Davidson's catch. I still believe that Shevin Wiggins deserves the accolades for his "kick" as Matt continues to get for his catch. I joined some students in watching the game at the Alumni Center. When we were still behind at the 5:00 mark, I decided to go home and sulk alone. I was driving down Capitol Parkway when the Huskers made this last minute drive. I drove slow enough to catch the light at Hwy 77. Just as the light was turning green, Davidson made the catch! I just laid on the car horn as I drove through the intersection knowing that the drivers in the cars around me gave me dirty looks. Had they been listening to the game, I'm sure that they would have joined me." - Chuck van Rossum, Lincoln

"OK, you had to get my Black & Gold blood pressure up yet again. My roots are with Devine and Devaney football and the wonderful, enjoyable and with class games played with those two men in charge.  Since that time Nebraska sports went on and upward...MU stalled at best. You are right on in your assessment 10 years ago. You obviously understood the cursed nature of Tiger athletics even then.  If you think about it, the Tigers were on the wrong end of three of the most (in)famous endings in the history of NCAA athletics: the Tyus Edney drive, the Colorado 5th down, and the aforementioned kicked TD pass.  Add to this Norm's failings in the tournament, the Woody Woodenhofer/Bob Stull era, Quin Snyder, the Ricky Clemons debacle, Mike Alden's bizarre hiring of Mike Anderson, and the fact that the Missouri athletic program is the only Big 12 program to never win a league title in ANYTHING, and you get a sense of how excruciatingly painful it is to follow Mizzou athletics.  After a weak opening set of games, I fully expect that they will find a way to lose to Nebraska Saturday night in the Big 12 North.  And - to compound things - they will probably lose to KU and KSU this season also.... now that is a downer." - Bill Werner, Missouri Fan


"I went to the Top 50 Spectacular Football Plays, and Nebraska is in there five times.  (4) Matt Davison at Missouri, (7) Tommie Frazier in the Fiesta Bowl, (28) Dean Steinkuhler's fumblerooski, (34) 2005 NU-Michigan Alamo Bowl final play and (46) Eric Crouch's run at Missouri.  The only one I saw in person was the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, and that play was amazing. The stadium was deafening afterwards, as well as at the end of the game. I was watching the 1997 Missouri game at home in Omaha and yelling so loud at Matt's play, and the plays in overtime, that the cat went and hid in another room." - Lennae Seevers

 

"I drove up to NAPI (Navajo Agriculture Products Industries), the mesa above Farmington, N.M. where the radio reception was tolerable and I sat back for the game. This particular untelevised day, the reception was fading in the fourth quarter, so I headed south toward Albuquerque in order to hear the broadcast. I was getting about every third word, but it was enough to tell what happened...Thanks Matt....I was half way to Albuquerque (160 miles)." - Bill Freimuth

 


"I remember as the game seemed to be slipping away in the fourth quarter, my wife (whose dad is a HUGE Missouri fan) gave up on the game and went to sort through some shoes in the closet.  As I watched the game from the edge of my seat in the living room (we had no kids yet) I was screaming, sweating, and cheering ever play.  Since we had been married for five years prior to this game, I had gradually converted my wife to be a fan of the Big Red.  As that last drive was unfolding, and NU was marching down the field, my wife kept trying to come into the living room to watch the drama unfold.  Me being rather superstitious when it comes to NU football, made her stay in the bedroom (and keep organizing her shoes).  I went berzerk when Matt caught that ball in the end zone, and knew that we would pull it off in OT.  You could sense from the TV coverage, the life of the MU fans just totally deflated.  The rest of the season followed typical mid-1990's NU football and they cruised to the national championship.  I live in Michigan now, and still root for the Mighty Big Red!" - Tom Sorensen

 

"Well, I guess I'm one of those 200,000 fans who were at the NU/MU game in 1997 where "The Kick" happened. I relocated to Springfield, Mo., in 1987, and a Nebraska Fan Club started in 1997 due to a large number of Husker fans living in the Ozarks.  That Nebraska football game to Columbia was our only Road Trip. I still get butterflies when I think about it. Standing there in the crowd thinking, "' don't believe it, we're going to get beat by Missouri! How are we going to get out of this Stadium alive?' That whole drive and score was SO unbelievable!  Then to win in overtime! Again I thought, 'How are we going to get out of this stadium alive?'  I think the whole Tiger crowd was so stunned we were able to leave the stadium before they came to.   Of course, trying to leave the campus in our Husker-clad bus was a different story!  A particular group of Tiger faithful didn't show very good sportsmanship.  Our bus took a few beer bottles to the side, but we finally got outta Dodge.  Yes that was a game and moment to remember and I'm glad and proud I was there. Go Huskers!" - Russ Jankovitz, 1983 Nebraska Graduate

 

"I was watching the game at my grandfather's farm house outside of Pender, Neb.  I remember when Frost had an incomplete pass and Missouri thought it was a fumble.  My grandpa said 'that's it - the game is over.'  I told him the refs said it was incomplete.  A later play, I remember Frost back and throwing into both Nebraska and Missouri players.  Once I saw Wiggins going down I thought the game was over. Instanly, I remember him kicking it up in the air and out of nowhere Matt Davison dove and caught the football.  I got up from the couch and started yelling in excitement.  I will never forget that.  It was one of the last Husker football games I got to watch with my grandfather." - Luke McQuistan

 

"I remember where I was when Matt Davison made "The Catch" - I had just finished pulling up my old carpet in my living room.  I had spent the day doing some remodeling and watching the Huskers at the same time. The Huskers had to climb back into the game when Scott Frost shot-putted the game winner off of Shevin Wiggins to Davison.  I went absolutely crazy, screaming that we had tied the score up. Once it went into overtime, I knew the Huskers would win." - James Ysebaert

 

"As a diehard Husker, I can honestly say, I was at the "Flea Kicker" game. It was by far the greatest game I have ever been at in my life, and I have been to hundreds, if not thousands of sporting events.  I was sitting at the opposite 15-yard line from where the play happened and I thought I saw the catch, but didn't know exactly what happened until the radio announcers were trying to explain.  There was so much excitement and confusion.  The fans were rushing toward the North goalposts, and then had to run back up the hill to watch the extra point and overtime.  There was no way the Huskers were gonna lose after that play. I am also thrilled that I was at the Nebraska-Michigan Alamo Bowl, which is also in my top 10 games of all time, and I did witness the final play, all of the way until the tackle.  I knew the ball was still in play.  I was also fortunate to watch Tommie Frazier's run at the Fiesta Bowl, which could have been the most dominating performance in the history of college football.  And finally, Eric Crouch's Heisman Trophy-winning run at Mizzou in 2001.  I think the only one of the great plays I missed was Dean Steinkuhler's fumblerooski. I am a proud Husker and hope to witness more of the greatness, starting with this Saturday night." - Alan Widman


"I was sitting above the student section at Mizzou for the game with my parents, who are Husker fans, and a bunch of friends, who are Mizzou fans. They were giving me and my folks a hard time all night. I remember feeling sick, until we got the ball on that final drive of regulation. Me and Dad felt we could score. Mom was just nervous. When Scott chucked it to Shevin, I thought it was imcomplete at first, and then, I actually saw the ball in the air and then Matt dove. After that, all the Mizzou people were going nuts, and I at the top of my lungs was screaming, "He caught it!" Then when the refs signaled touchdown, all of us Husker fans went crazy. I knew then, we would win. I could feel the air come out of Faurot Field. When Grant Wistrom (whom I played against in high school in Missouri) and Mike Rucker (another native Missourian) sacked Corby Jones to seal it in OT, I hugged and kissed everyone in red in the whole stadium, hollered until I was hoarse, then collapsed. I was exhausted. That night means more to me as time goes on. Former Huskers, thanks for the wonderful times, and memories. GO HUSKERS!" - Joshua Reed

 


"The Papillion LaVista volleyball team had a bonding party that day in Bellevue and stuck around to cheer on our Huskers. We screamed loud throughout the game as only young girls can. The parents laughed and told us to quiet down many times. However after the catch, we led the whole household outside to dance in the streets. Neighbors joined as we laughed, danced, and dove into a dogpile in the yard. Ironically, All-American volleyball player Alllison Weston grew up next door. Her parents joined our celebration of HuskerNation." - Tiffany Long

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