Legend of Sixkiller: He's the Only Guy Who Could Throw 6 Picks and Win

Dan Raley

Sonny Sixkiller went home to Oregon for the first time as Washington's varsity quarterback, leading the Huskies against Oregon State in Corvallis.

While still 222 miles from his hometown of Ashland, Sixkiller didn't enjoy the warm and stress-free return he might have counted on.

The weather was miserable, wet and bone-chilling cold.

The Huskies fell behind 14-0 almost immediately.

And Sixkiller couldn't stop throwing the ball to the other team, serving up a career-worst six interceptions in a game, three to Dave Graham5.

It was 6 by No. 6. Always a magic number, even when it wasn't. It was part of his name. It was his jersey number. September 6 was his birthday. And on a rainy day at OSU, it was his passing misfortune.

Yet through the mist and the misses, the shivering sophomore quarterback regrouped in front of a crowd of 27,911 and spearheaded a 29-20 victory over the Beavers with another record-breaking performance.

Sixkiller's game-day heroics -- 360 yards passing and 362 yards of total offense -- came against the same school that two years earlier said he was too short and wouldn't offer him a football scholarship. 

The Beavers might have been turned off by his 5-foot-11 height, but they failed to measure his poise and confidence. As always, it was way off the charts. 

"I never worry," Sixkiller said of the daunting early deficit. "We were only 14 points down. I wouldn't worry if we were 28 points down. Heck, it was only the first half."

He completed 30 of 50 passes, reaching those pair of stat levels for the second time in as many weeks.

His 360 yards passing were six better than Tod Hullins' output against UCLA in 1965, and his total offense numbers were 10 more than Hullins in the same game.

The Huskies dropped behind right away when Ernie Janet's long snap sailed over punter Dick Galuska's head and didn't stop rolling until it reached the UW 12, good for a 49-yard loss. Sixkiller, under a fierce blitz at all times, threw an interception to Jim Lilly that set up Oregon State's second score.

It was time to go to work. The Husky quarterback brought his team back by handing the ball to fullback Bo Cornell for a 1-yard TD plunge and throwing a 2-point conversion pass to tailback Darrell Downey. He followed that up with a 5-yard TD pass to Jim Krieg, putting the UW ahead for good at 15-14.

It was Krieg's first TD reception for the Huskies, even with Sixkiller launching 18 scoring passes to a host of others to that point. Krieg had caught 25 TDs in two seasons at Taft Junior College in California

"It took six games but I finally got one," Krieg said.

Retreating to the locker room once the game ended, Sixkiller wasn't immediately available for postgame interviews, which annoyed some reporters who were on deadline and had to stand and wait. 

The quarterback found himself mobbed by two-dozen adoring students in red rain parkas from the Chemewa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. They were excited to meet Sixkiller and had him sign a football to take back to the school. They couldn't hide how proud they were of their Native American connection.

"He is our brother," a student told a reporter.

Back to football business, Sixkiller told his waiting newspaper inquisitors how he nearly froze on the field while helping get the Huskies back in the game. 

He misunderstood when asked about his record-breaking outing against the Beavers.

He was self-deprecating as usual.

"I thought you were kidding," Sixkiller told his large media assemblage. "I thought you were talking about my six interceptions. That must be a record, too."

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