Dick Harmon: Refusing to lose: Robbie Bosco, BYU triumphed over adversity in 1984 Holiday Bowl
Fowler, who parlayed his full-time medical equipment job into a career as a TV sports analyst for three decades, remembers that when Bosco left the field, his primary thought was: “Boy, this could be serious. Is he putting any weight on it?
"When you see somebody helped off the field, you think he isn’t coming back,” said Fowler. “That is what went through my mind.”
Next, Fowler thought this was his game now and he’d better be ready. “Holmgren said to me, ‘Are your ready to roll? Just go out there and do what you do and we’ll call plays that you can do.’” That gave Fowler confidence.
When he walked to the huddle, receivers Mark Bellini and Kozlowski came up to him within 30 seconds of each other and said the same thing, “Hey, I’m open all day long. Every play, I’m wide open, get me the ball.”
That made Fowler even more confident because he’d heard that campaigning all season in every practice. “Our practices were tougher than games because our defense knew what we were doing and would jump routes in anticipating a play. When we got into games, it was actually easier to execute because the opponent wasn’t as familiar with our sets and calls.”
Fowler also remembers thinking of something his father told him when he was in high school. “He told me when given big opportunities, soak in the moment and enjoy it because I’d remember it the rest of my life." Fowler actually took the time to look around Jack Murphy Stadium, see the crowd, look across the line at Michigan’s defense, and take a mental snapshot of the scene.
“I remember guard Craig Garrick coming up and saying 'We have your back. Nobody’s going to touch you, nobody is going to lay a hand on you.'” Garrick, who has also since passed away, has a sister who married current D-line coach Steve Kaufusi and their son Bronson is a defensive starter at linebacker for BYU.
“I remember Garrick, Louis Wong, Robert Anae, Dave Wright and (Trevor) Matich making it perfectly clear to me that they trusted me and were not going to let anyone get a hand on me," said Fowler. "It made me feel secure and protected.”
On one of Fowler’s pass plays, a Michigan tackle did get a hand on him and as he was falling, Garrick dove over and propped him up, keeping him on his feet and he completed the pass. “I think it was called back on a holding call, but you get the idea of how good that line was at doing their job.”
Fowler ended up 5 of 7 for 28 yards in his brief two-series appearance before Bosco returned in the second quarter.
Bosco threw three interceptions but was 30 of 42 for 343 yards and two touchdowns with a pass efficiency on a bad leg of 141.46 for the game.
Curtis has moved several times since retiring from BYU. An affable jokester and popular figure in the lives of hundreds of athletes over the years, he now communicates slowly by texting.
The photograph is in a box somewhere among his family belongings, packed away for safekeeping as they move again this summer across the street. His wife Jan said when she gets the time, she’ll find it and make sure it is on display once again.
The black-and-white exposure is symbolic in a sense.
It’s a reminder of a group of players that simply refused to lose.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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