Farewell: Texas Stadium Hosted Other Classic Event
Farewell: Texas Stadium Hosted Other Classic Event

History will remember Texas Stadium as the home of the Dallas Cowboys first and foremost, but "America's Team" hasn't been alone in forging lifelong memories below the Hole in the Roof.

In fact, to some, the most memorable game of them all at Texas Stadium didn't even involve the Cowboys, or even a college team for that matter. Something about Joe Friday, wet britches and throwing up.

Yes, we're talking about, without debate, the most memorable high school football game ever played, that being the Class 5A Division II semifinal between Tyler John Tyler and Plano East on Nov. 26, 1994. How famous is this classic? The nearly five-minute clip of the contest has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.

Where to start?

Both teams entered the third-round playoff game at 12-0, with Plano East slight favorites as it was ranked in several national polls. Luckily, for the endless viewing pleasure of us all over the last 14 years, it was also the Plano TeleCable Game of the Week. The three men in the booth that night were play-by-play announcer Eddy Clinton, color commentator/local mailman Denny Garver and then-Lake Highlands coach Mike Zoffuto, whose team would play the winner the following week.

While the game would become iconic for both its late fourth-quarter scoring lollapalooza and the broadcast itself, few recall that it was actually a closely-contested affair throughout with Plano East trailing John Tyler by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

That's when the fun started, with John Tyler scoring 17 points, including 90- and 36-yard fumble returns for touchdowns in a span of five minutes, and taking what appeared to be an insurmountable 41-17 lead with 3:03 remaining. The majority of the 20,000 fans that were in attendance headed for the exits. Alas, for them, they missed the most frenzied three minutes of football the state of Texas has ever witnessed at any level.

With the aid of three recovered onside kicks, Plano East scored 27 points in 2 minutes, 12 seconds. After the third such onside kick by Terence Green, Garver yelled, "Good gosh o'mighty, Joe Friday! Somebody give me something! I'm gonna die! We're gonna celebrate, break out the Oreos, baby."

The comeback charge was led by Green, who caught four balls for 112 yards in the closing minutes and Plano East quarterback Jeff Whitley, who threw four scores, including the go-ahead with 24 seconds on the clock. That score sent Garver over the edge, if he wasn't there already, "They've done it, they've done it, they've done it. Oh, good God almighty! This is unbelievable... I've done wet my britches."

And the comeback was complete, one for the ages, one that would be spoken and retold for decades to... yeah, not so much.

John Tyler coach Allen Wilson said later that he was fully expecting an onside kick, but Green blasted one deep, all the way to the three-yard line where Roderick Dunn caught the ball and almost in a flash of disbelief, sprinted down the field untouched via the left sideline and into the end zone. At that moment, Zofutto told the listening audience for millions to eventually hear, "I don't believe it. God bless those kids. I'm sick. I'm gonna throw up."

Final score: John Tyler 48, Plano East 44

The teams had combined to score 51 points in the fourth quarter alone. Within days the footage, with local announcers and all, were being aired on ESPN and a legend was born. The game won ESPN's 1995 ESPY award as the "Showstopper of the Year," and was replayed on virtually every late-night sports broadcast on the planet. Clinton and Garver even ended up appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

One of the sports writers who was at Texas Stadium that faithful night was Doug Foster, who covered the game for the Plano Star Courier. Some 14 years later, his recollection of the game remains vivid.

"I honestly don't remember what I wrote after Dunn ran the kick back," Foster said. "I just know that seven minutes later, I filed a story that made the paper.

After, I went downstairs to see if I could get more reaction. I saw (Plano East quarterback Jeff) Whitley hugging a family member, tears in his eyes at the locker room door. Inside, the entire Plano East team sat, faces buried in their hands. I've never seen that many men crying at the same time.

"I no longer needed more quotes. I just needed to never forget that moment."

For the record, not that it mattered in terms of the historical significance of the game, but John Tyler went on to win three more games that season and claim the Class 5A Division II state championship.

Since its opening in 1971, Texas Stadium has hosted hundreds of high school and college football games as well as a wide-variety of other events, including many of the premier concerts of the time. Here's a look at some of the most memorable games and events that Irving has hosted the last 38 years:

High School Football

1971 Class 4A State Championship - In the first high school contest ever played at Texas Stadium, nearly 24,000 fans watched San Antonio Lee defeat Wichita Falls, 28-27.

Lee was led by quarterback Tommy Kramer, who went on to a long career with the Minnesota Vikings highlighted by a Pro Bowl tab in 1986. In the losing effort, legendary prep running back Ronnie Littleton rushed for 181 yards for Wichita Falls.

1977 Class 4A Championship - At the time, the crowd of 48,000-plus for Plano and Port Neches-Groves was the largest to ever witness a high school football game.

Not just in Texas, either, we're talking anywhere in the country.

Plano won the contest, 13-10, in a game that wasn't decided until the last minute when Plano recovered a PN-G fumble.

1987 Class 5A Quarterfinals - While the scoreboard said Arlington and Odessa Permian tied 35-35, the victory was awarded to "Mojo" based on 20-yard line penetrations. Many of the players, including "Boobie" Miles, who were featured in the iconic book "Friday Night Lights" were on this Permian team as juniors.

Arlington led 28-7 at halftime only to watch Odessa make a furious comeback that included 21 fourth-quarter points.

2006 Class 5A Division 1 Area Playoffs - Estimates have some 55,000 fans at Texas Stadium for this instant classic that saw Southlake Carroll defeat Euless Trinity, 22-21. The game-winning score came via a two-yard quarterback run by Riley Dodge with 37 seconds remaining.

-Photo by Bob Beauvais

College Football

2001 Big 12 Championship Game - Here's guessing the majority reading this would rather forget Colorado's 39-37 upset of then No. Three ranked Texas on Dec. 1, 2001. If the Longhorns had won, they would've played for the national championship.

Chris Simms threw three interceptions in the first half as Texas trailed at intermission 29-10. Major Applewhite led a gallant comeback in front of a frenzied home crowd and with 9:10 remaining, UT closed the gap, 36-30. Alas, it wasn't meant to be as a roughing the punter call late in the fourth was too much for Mack Brown and company to overcome.

Arkansas-SMU, 1982 - This Nov. 20 Southwest Conference match-up is arguably the most important game in SMU program history, even dating back to the days of Doak Walker. In front of a sold-out Texas Stadium and a regional television crowd, the Mustangs entered the game undefeated with national title aspirations.

-Photo by SMU Athletics

SMU evened the score late on a two-yard run by QB Lance McIlhenny and with overtime not an option, the game ended tied at 17-17 when a 52-yard field goal by Mustangs kicker Jeff Harrell fell short.

SMU, which was led by the Pony Express backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James, defeated Dan Marino-led Pittsburgh in the Cotton Bowl and finished the season 11-0-1.

This, That and Whatever Else

"The Greater Southwest Billy Graham Crusade" - This was actually the first event ever held at Texas Stadium, on Sept. 17, 1971. Despite heavy rain, more than 60,000 people attended Graham's sermon, which incidentally was partly organized by then-Cowboys coach Tom Landry.

The event also included performances by Johnny and June Cash and the Statler Brothers. In his closing remarks to the crowd, Graham called Texas Stadium, "one of the great stadiums of the world."

Graham returned to Texas Stadium in October 2002, with his final of four events drawing a venue-record 85,000 people.

1973 NFL Pro Bowl - While the game was eventually moved to Hawaii, where it is still played, the Pro Bowl visited Irving following the 1972 regular season, but anticipation was minimal with more than 15,000 empty seats. While Tom Landry coached the NFC, it wasn't enough to slow O.J. Simpson and the AFC, who prevailed 33-28.

National Wrestling Alliance - Back when wrestling was just about as its peak in Texas, Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich entertained more than 43,000 fans in grappling for the World Heavyweight crown. At the time, it was believed to be the largest crowd to ever witness a wrestling event. Von Erich pinned Flair to win the title. American Idol Auditions - The popular reality show, Simon Cowell and all, visited Texas Stadium on Sept. 6, 2007.

Concerts

Here are just some of the concerts that have taken place at Texas Stadium:

Billy Joel and Elton John
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
The Jackson Five
Madonna
Jimmy Buffett
Dave Matthews Band
Paul McCartney
James Brown (with Kool and the Gang as the opening act)
Guns N' Roses (twice, 1988 with INXS, and 1992 with Metallica)
Metallica (three times, in 1992, 2000 and 2003)
Carman (a Christian-concert record 72,132 attended this show on Oct. 22, 1994) U2
Garth Brooks
Pink Floyd
The Eagles
George Strait (he played Texas Stadium six times)

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