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RIP to QB & DB Jim Hunt, who led Cal to its only victory against Penn State on a Hail Mary

Go Bears.

Colorado v California Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The California Golden Bears lost a member of the Cal Family last month in Jim Hunt. Hunt passed away at the age of 72.

Hunt was a quarterback and defensive back for the California Golden Bears in the 1960s. As a defensive back, Hunt logged seven interceptions in 1964, tied for third all-time among Cal players (Deltha O’Neal and Daymeion Hughes are the only players with more in one season).

Hunt backed up Craig Morton his first few seasons, and was also a backup to Dan Berry for most of their final season.

Hunt is most famous for his 1965 Hail Mary throw against the Penn State Nittany Lions. With one second left, Hunt threw a pass in Memorial Stadium into traffic in the end zone that was tipped in the air by three Penn State defenders and caught by Cal end Jerry Bradley for the win. You can read a full newspaper summary of the game in the November 1st edition of the Gettsyburg Times!

Penn State’s coach Rip Engle protested, claiming offensive pass interference. Engle would be replaced after the season by Joe Paterno. It took awhile for the Bears to kick the extra point as fans rushed the Memorial Stadium field and the Nittany Lions protested.

This is Cal’s only win against Penn State. Cal lost to Penn State the following season and in the previous two matches. Cal hasn’t played Penn State since 1966.

Hunt has spent much of his last 40 years in the Napa and Calistoga era. Here’s a summary of his time here from the Napa Valley Register.

Hunt was a dedicated schoolteacher and coach. He taught at Lenox School for Boys in Massachusetts before returning to the Napa Valley. He taught at Justin-Siena in 1976-77 before taking a position as a history teacher and football coach in Calistoga. After his time in Calistoga, he held the same position at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park.

Hunt earned the adoration and respect of the Calistoga community as the Wildcats’ football coach from 1978-84.

Hunt won a North Coast Section title in 1978 and also led the legendary “Dirty Dozen” team in 1984 that embodied all of the romantic elements of football when it came to toughness and relentlessness.

In retirement, Hunt was the driving force behind bringing an athletic hall of fame to St. Helena High. As the HOF committee chairman, he unveiled the first class in 2013.

(HT to Vince D’Adamo, who brought the story to our attention and had some nice memories of Hunt to share on his site.)