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Where are they now? Toledo’s Wasean Tait, star of Vegas Bowl

Updated June 3, 2020 - 1:10 pm

Editor’s note: The Review-Journal’s “Where Are They Now” series catches up with athletes who played high school, college or professional sports in the Las Vegas Valley. Stories will run at least once a week.

After UNR rallied from 10 points down to send the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl into overtime, Toledo running back Wasean Tait had a flashback to his high school days and knew what to expect from playing an extra session.

But Tait didn’t realize the moment’s historical significance. This was the first game to go into overtime in what then was called Division I-A. “I remember the coaches telling us the rule change before the game,” he said.

Tait ended the game with a 2-yard touchdown run to hand Toledo a 40-37 victory at Sam Boyd Stadium. That was his fourth touchdown of the game to go with 185 yards on 31 carries.

He said he heard that the Wolf Pack players believed they would hold him under 30 yards rushing. “That was like a personal punch in the gut,” Tait said.

This game was a rematch from the regular-season meeting in which the Rockets went to Reno and defeated UNR 49-35.

The Rockets rolled through an undefeated season and earned a No. 25 national ranking. They had every reason to be confident, but Tait said he noticed a tension in the air when the team arrived in Las Vegas.

“It was kind of like a grudge match,” Tait said. “The intensity (was high) because of the outcome of the first game.”

Both teams brought dynamic offenses. UNR finished first in the nation with 569.4 yards per game, and quarterback Mike Maxwell was first with 3,611 yards passing.

Toledo finished fifth with a 244.5-yard rushing average, and Tait set Mid-American Conference rushing records with 2,090 yards and 24 touchdowns.

But that season turned out to be Tait’s high-water mark.

Once considered an NFL prospect, he’d be sidelined the next two seasons by a major knee injury. He returned in 1998 to rush for 625 yards.

Tait, 45, has spent the past 20 years in production for Chrysler in the Detroit area. He now is looking at owning a car dealership. “Since I’m from Detroit, I’ve been around cars my whole life, learning on how to work on them,” he said.

Back in the day, he also knew how to drive an offense.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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