Two-minute drill: Rotten apples for Cougs

SEATTLE – This will be an Apple Cup that Connor Halliday will remember – for all the wrong reasons. Trailing by three late in the game, the Cougars had the opportunity to drive downfield and take the lead or win it, when he threw an interception that set up a Husky touchdown. Then he did it again on the ensuing play to ensure Washington would finish with a 27-17 win.

Early in the third quarter on third-and-five with WSU leading 10-3, Bishop Sankey rumbled 40 yards on a screen pass. UW scored a few plays later to tie the game but more importantly, they seized momentum and didn't give it back until the fourth quarter and after they had scored 17 unanswered.

While the Cougars surrendered several explosive plays, they also made some key stops that kept the game close throughout:

  • On third-and-5 on the Huskies' opening drive at WSU's 35, quarterback Keith Price was dropped for a 6-yard loss by Darryl Paulo that forced a Travis Coons 48-yard field goal.

  • On third-and-1 from the Huskies' 37, Darryl Monroe stopped Bishop Sankey for a loss that forced UW to punt during its second possession of the game.

  • Price was able to break free as a flag hit the turf for holding, but he fumbled after being hit by sophomore defensive lineman Xavier Cooper and senior linebacker Justin Sagote recovered at the Huskies' 47.

  • Nolan Washington jumped the receiver's route and intercepted Price before stepping out of bounds at his own 9 with 10:10 left in the second quarter. It was Washington's third career interception.

  • Early in the fourth quarter, safety Deone Bucannon stuffed UW receiver Marvin Hall for a loss on a bubble screen.

  • With about 5:30 left in the game, BUCK linebacker Kache Palacio sacked Price on third down, which forced UW to punt.

    On fourth-and-15 at UW's 39 in the fourth quarter and with the Cougs trailing by 10 points, Connor Halliday found Dom Williams for a 22-yard gain in a sea of Huskies. A personal-foul penalty for a helmet hit by linebacker John Timu was assessed, which put the Cougars down to UW's 8. Two plays later, Halliday found Williams again for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 7:30 remaining in the game. Williams' grab, in which he went up knowing he was going to get hit, kept the WSU hopes alive, with the Cougs closing to 20-17.

    After displaying strong decision-making skills in leading the Cougars to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006, Halliday's interceptions were disappointing.

    Sankey set UW single-season records for rushing yards and touchdowns. He finished the game with 200 yards on 34 carries as the Cougars were unable to contain him.

    WSU had a significant edge in first downs throughout the game. But the Cougars, who had a 25-21 advantage in that statistic, could not translate many of those drives into points.

    The Cougars were able to dink-and-dunk their way to first downs, but far too many drives stalled out without points. There was some discussion within the media during the week that the Huskies would be able to take advantage of WSU's "one-dimensional offense." But the Cougars, unlike Oregon State, are able to run the ball effectively at times. The more significant issue for WSU was its inability to produce explosive plays against UW. The inability to produce big plays put pressure on Halliday, who forced two passes late in the game that decided the outcome. The result also placed too much pressure on the Cougars' defense to contain UW's explosive playmakers, such as Sankey and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, both of whom are viewed as early NFL draft picks if they elect to come out early. WSU's defense has been known to give up the big play, but it also has come up with significant stops this season. That was the case during the first half as the Huskies only converted 1 of 6 third downs. It was an impressive display against an offense that jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead en route to a 69-27 victory last week at OSU. The Cougars missed a potential scoring opportunity late in the first half. After a penalty placed them in a second-and-20 situation at UW's 35 with just 7 seconds remaining, it seemed prudent to kick a field goal. Instead, Halliday was sacked and the clock expired.

    Tie. Neither team punted well as the Cougars went with Wes Concepcion instead of Mike Bowlin.

    WSU will see which bowl it is invited to.

    UW 3-0
    12:13: Travis Coons 48-yard field goal. SECOND QUARTER:
    13:38: Andrew Furney 49-yard field goal. WSU 10-3
    4:25: Rickey Galvin 14-yard pass in left corner of the end zone from Connor Halliday. Key plays: WSU converted a pair of third-and-1 plays on the scoring drive. The first came from its own 18 on a 2-yard run by Marcus Mason and the latter was from the Huskies' 15 on a 1-yard scramble by Halliday. The Cougars' longest play from scrimmage was a 20-yard carry by Teondray Caldwell from their own 45. THIRD QUARTER:
    9:26: Austin Seferian-Jenkins 18-yard touchdown reception from Price. UW 17-10
    5:16: Bishop Sankey 7-yard run. UW 20-10
    1:03: Coens 39-yard field goal. FOURTH QUARTER:
    UW 20-17
    7:30: Dom Williams 5-yard pass from Halliday. Key play: On fourth-and-15 at UW's 39, Halliday found Williams for a 22-yard gain. A personal-foul penalty for a helmet hit by linebacker John Timu was assessed, which put the Cougars down to UW's 8. UW 27-17
    2:08: Price 2-yard run.

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