1989: 'The screaming bananas'

2013-07-13T00:00:00Z 1989: 'The screaming bananas'Shane Dale Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Excerpt from UA graduate Shane Dale's book "Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert"

This is how UA defensive back Heath Bray (1988-92) remembers the chain of events in the hour before the '89 Duel at Sun Devil Stadium:

"We come out, and (the Sun Devils were) warming up in their nasty-ass mustard and rust colors," he said. "It was the first time I really got a look at it, and I thought, 'God, they're awful.' It was just funny.

"And then they go in their locker room, we go in ours, and it was kind of solemn in there. And (linebacker) Donnie Salum, who's one of my really good friends, gets up and just starts going ape crazy - I mean yelling, screaming, slamming his helmet down on this table that was full of Gatorade. The table exploded and cut Coach (Ron) McBride in the face.

"Everyone looks at each other, and there was just this rush. And everyone came together in the middle of the room, and I mean, you could cut the electricity with a knife.

"And we go out in the tunnel, and the fans are throwing crap at us. It's the first time in my life I've ever had stuff thrown at me. And we come out, and those idiots come out in all mustard."

In another effort to change things up specifically for the UA game, head coach Larry Marmie had decided to mix up ASU's uniforms a little: He had the team remove its traditional home uniforms before the game and retake the field entirely in Sun Devil gold just before kickoff.

But UA offensive tackle John Fina (1988-91) said he remembers the uniforms being more of a banana color. "It wasn't that rich gold color; it was that horrible, flat, banana yellow," he said. "They came running out head to toe in banana yellow."

Bray, who referred to the Devils as "The Screaming Bananas" for that game, said the '89 Duel in the Desert was over right then and there. "I mean, we won the game before the ball was kicked off," he said. "They were so awful. I mean, we were physically laughing at them. It was just pitiful, and we were like, 'We're going to kick their ass.' And then we went to literally kicking their ass the whole game."

ASU running back Bruce Perkins (1988-89) said the players didn't know anything about the color change until they put on their uniforms right before the game.

"To my knowledge, we were all kind of surprised that we were going to go out with all-yellow uniforms," he said. "We really didn't care too much about the uniforms at the time because we were pretty much focused on trying to go out and execute more so than worrying about our uniforms.

"But as we stepped back and at the end of the year, we were looking back and thinking, 'Damn, why did we go out in these uniforms?' So it really didn't hit us until after the game. It was like, 'Man, we had these banana uniforms.'"

Marmie admitted that, in retrospect, the uniform switcheroo may have been a mistake.

"It wasn't something we talked to the players about during the week. That was basically a decision I made that might give us some sort of a special lift, to go into the locker room and come back out at home," he said.

"Sometimes you do things and you're hopeful that it might be something that gives you something a little bit extra. But looking back at it now, I probably wouldn't do that again, and obviously it didn't pay off. It didn't make any difference, and I probably should've known that at the time."

ASU led the so-called Banana Bowl at halftime, 10-7, but UA scored 21 unanswered points in the second half thanks to a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by running back David Eldridge and a 3-yard TD rush by tailback Michael Bates.

The Wildcats were also boosted by a pair of forced fumbles in the second half that they recovered - one by defensive tackle Reggie Johnson, who stripped quarterback Paul Justin in the third quarter, and another by cornerback Darryll Lewis, who pried the ball away from Devils tailback David Winsley deep in UA territory later in the third.

UA coach Dick Tomey said the defense came up big in the second half. "I just think Darryll Lewis made so many plays in his career that were huge plays. …" Tomey said. "Those were huge. Those changed that game completely."

The win catapulted the Cats to their first bowl game under Tomey - a 17-10 win over North Carolina State at the first-ever Copper Bowl, which was played at Arizona Stadium.

Fina and the rest of the offensive line helped UA gain 285 yards rushing to ASU's 43 in the '89 game, and he said the Wildcats' 18-point win - their largest margin of victory during The Streak - wasn't indicative of their domination.

"We physically just took it to them offensively," he said. "Some of the early Dick Tomey years were (about) finding an offensive identity for us, and just to have that success offensively and really just wearing them out was the most satisfying aspect of that game. We didn't beat them by 35 or even 28 points, but we had the satisfaction of manhandling them."

Whether it was the uniforms, a lack of execution or both, Perkins said his Devils just weren't up to the challenge that night. "Just the way we came out with the uniforms and we didn't perform and play like we should've played - it was disappointing," he said.

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