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12.18.81 San Diego, Calif. (52,419) 

No. 14 BYU38
No. 20 Washington State36

The 1981 edition of the Holiday Bowl fit the mold of its predecessors. This time it was the Cougars of BYU versus the Cougars of Washington State, playing before a crowd of 52,419. BYU held a 24-7 lead at halftime, then pushed the score to 31-7 as Tom Holmoe intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards to give the WAC champions a comfortable edge. As the second half progressed, it appeared BYU would be the come-from-behind victim in this one. With only 59 seconds left in the third quarter, Washington State scored to make it 31-28. But Jim McMahon took over moving BYU 82 yards for a score to stretch the lead to 38-28. Statistically, it was a typical McMahon game, 27 of 43 with no interceptions and three touchdowns. Tight end Gordon Hudson had an excellent game, collecting seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Dan Plater also caught a touchdown pass and Waymon Hamilton scored on the ground. Washington State quarterbacks Clete Casper and Ricky Turner completed only eight passes for 106 yards but Turner had 82 yards rushing while Don LaBomme had 79. Each team scored five touchdowns, so the difference actually came midway through the second quarter when Kurt Gunther connected on a 20-yard field goal after a BYU drive stalled on the Washington State three.

Passing Yards368106
BYUPlater 35-yard pass from McMahon (kick)
BYUHudson 7-yard pass from McMahon (kick)
WSUTurner 2-yard run (kick)
BYUGunther 20-yard FG
BYUHamilton 1-yard run (kick)
BYUHolmoe 35-yard int. return (kick)
WSULavomme 18-yard run (2 pt.)
WSUWilliams 5-yard run (2 pt. failed)
WSU Turn 13-yard run (kick)
BYUPettis 11-yard pass from McMahon (kick)
WSUMartin 1-yard run (2 pt.)
No. 14 BYU7177738
No. 20 WSU0721836