1981 Holiday Bowl
Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Brigham Young University 7 17 7 7 38
Washington State University 0 7 21 8 36
Date December 30, 1981
Season 1981
Stadium Jack Murphy Stadium
Location San Diego, California
MVP Offensive: Jim McMahon (BYU)
Defensive: Kyle Whittingham (BYU)
Halftime show Marching bands
Attendance 52,419[1]
Payout US$286,179 per team[1]
United States TV coverage
Network ESPN
Holiday Bowl
 < 1980  1982

The 1981 Holiday Bowl was a college football bowl game played December 30, 1981 in San Diego, California. It was part of the 1981 NCAA Division I-A football season. It featured the 14th ranked BYU Cougars, and the 20th ranked Washington State Cougars.

BYU took a 7-0 lead following a 35 yard touchdown pass from Jim McMahon to Dan Plater, to cap the only scoring of the 1st quarter. He threw a 7 yard pass to Gordon Hudson to increase BYU's lead to 14-0. Washington State got on the board after Ricky Turner scored on a 2 yard touchdown run. BYU's Kurt Gunther kicked a 20 yard field goal before halftime to put BYU on top 17-7. Hamilton scored on a 1 yard touchdown run, and BYU took a 24-7 halftime lead.

BYU cornerback Tom Holmoe intercepted a Washington State pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, as BYU made it 31-7, early in the third quarter. Washington State running back Matt LaBonne scored on an 18 yard touchdown run pulling WSU to within 31-14. Williams scored on a 5 yard run making it a 31-21 game. Ricky Turner scored on a 13 yard touchdown run making it 31-28 at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Jim McMahon fired an 11 yard touchdown pass to Scott Pettis to make it 38-28. Mike Martin scored on a 1 yard touchdown run, and Ricky Turner added a 2 point conversion to make it 38-36. BYU recovered the ensuing onside kick to win the game.

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