In 1980 the Cougars won their first bowl game in dramatic fashion against power house SMU. It took a Vai Sikahema 83-yard punt return to cut the Cougar deficit to 29-14 at the end of the first half. Still down by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with only four minutes left to play, it was a series of phenomenal plays that led to the Cougar victory. Despite the punt team being sent onto the field, QB Jim McMahon refused to leave the field, forcing coach Edwards to call a timeout. With some choice persuasive words from McMahon, Edwards agreed to leave the offense on the field, which resulted in a Clay Brown reception for the first down and the series culminated with a touchdown. After an onside kick recovery, touchdown and an SMU fumble, came the famous Miracle Pass from Jim McMahon to Clay Brown and the Cougars won their very first bowl game. LaVell Edwards once mentioned that someone told him it took two Catholic boys to finally win the game for the Cougars. He was quick to reply that although they tied the game, it was returned missionary Kurt Gunther who kicked the PAT for the go ahead points. Cougars won 46-45.