Friday, November 16, 2001
Updated: April 6, 5:57 PM ET
Moen breaks down "The Play"
By Phillip Lee
Special to ESPN Classic
For Kevin Moen, it doesn't seem like 19 years have passed since "The Play." After all, how many people can forget scoring the winning touchdown on five laterals while running over a marching band in the final four seconds of a game? Moen definitely hasn't. He scored the game-winner. Here's how Moen remembers "The Play."
Nothing to lose
That was a great season for both Cal and Stanford, setting the stage for a big game. It was a seesaw battle. John Elway had his late game (heroics), going the length of the field and getting Stanford in field goal position. Then they kicked what they perceived to be the winning field goal with four seconds left.
After that, things took on a life of their own. We had a group of guys with (defensive back) Richard Rodgers on the sideline saying "Hey, just don't let the ball die." When we went on the field, it was kind of a mix of, "Hey, we got nothing to lose" and "Boy, this hurts" because I felt that we had controlled the game and should have won it, so to have them kick that last second field goal was fairly discouraging. We just went out there with the resolve that, "Hey, let's see what happens."
Well, the ball came to me on the kickoff and my first thought when I got the ball was that "I'm going to score a touchdown." Well, after a few steps and looking up and seeing three Stanford guys running at me I quickly changed my mind and passed it to Richard (Rodgers), who was just standing on the sideline and kinda waving at me. I took his cue and chucked him the ball. After that, I was kinda of a passive observer. I was trailing behind what took place on the next few laterals.
Richard took off with what I'm sure was the intent to score a touchdown when he ran into a group of guys and turned around happened to see Dwight Garner behind him.
The Controversial Lateral (No. 3)
Then Dwight took off and I'm sure that in his mind he was going, "I got the ball and I'm going to score a touchdown." Dwight, however, ran into about five Stanford guys. If there was any controversy on this play, it was surrounding Dwight having the ball. He took it and got swarmed by a bunch of Stanford guys and right before he went down, he got the ball back to Richard (Rodgers). I guess if you're on the Stanford side, you think he's down, but if you're on the Cal side, he had a good three inches left before his knee hit the ground. I wasn't too far away and I could see and he hadn't hit the ground by the time he got the ball away.
At this point, I was just following behind Richard. I saw Richard get into an option quarterback mode where he was coming down the line like he was optioning a defensive end. At that point, Mariet Ford, who was the deep guy on the kickoff return, had run up and gotten between Richard and I. Richard made a perfect option play to Mariet.
Mariet got the ball and I'm in perfect position behind him and following him down the field. Probably the most spectacular aspect, in my mind, of the play was when Mariet kinda made a diving, leaping, no-look over-the-back chuck of the ball that floated right into my hands.
Strike the band
At that point, I'm at around the 25-yard line and the Stanford band had come out to the field to start celebrating. When I got the ball, I looked up and went "Wow. The band is on the field." But then my intent at that point was not to hesitate, it was, "Hey, I got the ball. Let's go." I just kinda put my head down and ran through the band. Fortunately, they kinda parted away as I ran through. Then when I knew I was in the end zone that's when I started my celebration and ended up by crowning that moment with a head bash over the trombone player. That was the start of a big celebration to come.