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NOTEBOOK: IT WAS RIGHT FIT FOR TUIASOSOPO.

Byline: - Joe Haakenson and Steve Ramirez

PASADENA - For Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, being named most valuable player of the Rose Bowl seemed a natural.

Tuiasosopo, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound Somoan who was the offensive MVP in the Pacific-10 this season, became Washington's career leader in total offense and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting. His ability to run the ball as well as throw it made him a double-threat that posed problems for opposing defenses all season.

Monday, he showed Purdue exactly what the rest of the Pac-10 has had to deal with the past four years.

Tuiasosopo ran 15 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 16 of 22 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

But the play he was asked most about was the one that nearly let Purdue get back into the game. The Huskies had a 10-point lead and the ball with less than six minutes remaining in the game. On third-and-3 from their own 25, Tuiasosopo took the snap from center and ran the option to the left side.

He faked a pitch to tailback Willie Hurst and burst into the Boilermakers' secondary untouched. But just as he crossed midfield, he tried to pitch the ball to receiver Todd Elstrom.

Elstrom, though, couldn't handle the ball and Purdue's Ashante Woodyard recovered the fumble.

Purdue's ensuing drive ended in a missed field goal, and the Huskies went on to victory.

--The comeback: That Tuiasosopo was even in the game at that point was a big boost to the Huskies. Late in the third quarter he was slammed to the grass by Purdue linebacker Landon Johnson. His right shoulder stiffened up and became swollen, and he was taken to the locker room.

After reserve quarterback Cody Pickett ran three plays, Tuiasosopo was back on the field and in the game to start the fourth quarter. Despite a sore shoulder, he completed all three of his passes in the final period. Until then, Tuiasosopo had not missed a single down in his entire career at Washington because of an injury.

``He's a warrior,'' Neuheisel said. ``He absolutely epitomizes what a quarterback should be. He leads by example and he's gracious to all his teammates, whether they're a front-line player or fifth-string. He's a great person, player and leader. I'm happy to be a part of his career and I look forward to watching him play on Sundays (in the NFL).''

--Inspirational appearance: Paralyzed Huskies strong safety Curtis Williams made an emotional appearance prior to the game.

Williams, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury Oct. 28 against Stanford, has been rehabilitating at a Santa Clara hospital. Williams was transported from Santa Clara to the Rose Bowl on Monday morning and was taken to the locker room at his own request.

Still without movement in his arms and legs, Williams was put in a wheelchair, donned his game jersey and met with teammates for roughly 10 minutes before being transported to a Rose Bowl suite to watch the game.

``We knew that he might come and we tried to be prepared for it, but when we saw him it really hit us deep to know our brother was hurting,'' defensive lineman Anthony Kelley said. ``The part that made us get up and know we had to get a victory was by him just coming down here. He was willing to sacrifice whatever cost to get here and he wasn't willing to give up. We needed that to get us going and it's the reason we're getting rings.''

Williams, who said he slept for most of the ride down here, said he wanted to offer his support.

``I missed them and I wanted to thank them,'' Williams said. ``It was great to see everyone again.''

--Another visitor: Jim Lambright, a longtime assistant coach under Don James and later head coach at Washington for six seasons, watched the game from the sideline and got the chance to bask in the glory of players he recruited.

Although he was fired after a 6-6 season in 1998, Lambright (44-25-1 overall with the Huskies) appeared to have no hard feelings in returning to share in the postgame celebration.

``This is such a family atmosphere,'' Lambright said. ``This was special for me to come down here. I've been in these kids' homes, and to walk into the stands today and see their parents, that was great.''

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo: Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo ran for one touchdown and passed for another, earning MVP honors.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer

Box: PASADENA TOURNAMENT OF ROSES: A CLOSER LOOK
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 2, 2001
Words:767
Previous Article:PURDUE MEMORIES NOT SWEET.
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