CF.C player of the game: Marcellus Pippins
Pippins' 66-yard interception return set up the Cougars' lone touchdown. It also briefly gave WSU some hope as it reduced the Huskies' lead to 21-10 in the third quarter.
The Cougars actually lead 3-0 to start the game.
WSU imploded late in the game. The final four drives of the game ended in a turnover for WSU. After the Cougs got back in it with Pippins INT turned short field TD drive, the Cougs had three fumbles (one returned for a TD) and an INT returned for a TD.
The Cougars produced their least amount of points this season. They also gave up 45 points, which is a season high. They also had seven total turnovers and a missed FG.
WSU was outplayed in almost every statistical category. Total yards: 443-319; first downs: 22-19; Yards per play: 5.9-4.6; turnovers: 7-1; points off turnovers: 28-7.
The Cougars failed in their lone fourth-down attempt. They had two field goal tries, one make and one missed. It begs the question would Mike Leach have gone for it on fourth down more if Luke Falk was the QB?
The biggest problem for the Cougars was giving up 28 points off turnovers. It’s incredible that off seven turnovers the Huskies only scored four TDs. The score would have been even worse, but UW missed two field goal attempts before running a fumble and an INT back for a TD.
Bender had four turnovers, two INTs, both returned for TDs, and two fumbles. He should have had a third fumble and probably three more interceptions but the officials overturned the fumble.
Leading tacklers: Shalom Luani, Peyton Pelluer & Jeremiah Allison
All three ended with 11 tackles each. The Cougars haven’t had a double-digit tackler during their last two games. Behind Luani, Pelluer and Allison was Destiny Vaeao with a career-high 9 tackles, including half a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Misleading stat of the game: Turnovers
WSU only had seven turnovers. I say only because there were at least three more passes that Bender should have had intercepted and a fumble that the officials gifted him. When those missed throws happened, WSU was fortunate to avoid the extra turnovers. However, in the end, those non-turnovers ended up coming out in the wash with three fumbles and an INT in the last four drives.
Play of the game: Marcellus Pippins INT
The Cougars' corner made a great play on a bad pass from UW QB Jake Browning. WSU's front line created enough pressure up front to force Browning to run and Pippins picked it off and nearly took it to the house. He was tracked down 66 yards later and the Cougs eventually punched in their only TD of the game.
Gabe Marks: Injured near the end of the game, and needed to be helped to the sidelines and eventually back to the locker room. He also was injured in the second quarter, but was able to return before being hurt again in the fourth quarter.
Luke Falk: Didn’t play against Washington after being injured last week against Colorado.
Joe Dahl: Didn’t play for the fourth straight week and the only real update is he wore a walking boot last week during the senior night ceremonies.
River Cracraft: Didn’t play for the third straight week when he was injured against Arizona State.
Up Next: The Cougars bowl game: TBD.
Gabe Marks has 99 receptions for 1,125 yards on the season.
Dom Williams caught his 11th TD of the season and 30th of his career, keeping him at No. 2 on the all-time WSU list. He needs three TDs to pass Jason Hill.
Hercules Mata’afa recorded sack No. 6, he leads the team.
Shalom Luani, Peyton Pelluer and Jeremiah Allison all had 11 tackles. It was Luani’s third, and Pelluer and Allison’s fourth double-digit tackle game of the season.
Erik Powell’s 41-yard FG, upped his season total to 18, tied for the fourth-most in WSU single-season history.
Bender and wide receiver John Thompson both made their first career starts. Bender became the second Cougar quarterback to make his first career start in the Apple Cup. The other was Ryan Leaf in 1995.
Postgame quotes from Leach:
Overall on the game: I think we got out of sync, I thought we were wide-eyed to start the game, I think we made more out of the game than what it was. In particular, I don’t think, starting with me, as coaches we prepared them as well as we might have. And then late in the game, when things didn’t go our way we gave in. We’re going to start addressing that right away tomorrow. From my point of view we’ve got a great bowl game we get to go to, and it’s a byproduct of a very positive season. But with that also said, our offseason starts tomorrow.
On offense: Well, we didn’t finish drives. We didn’t finish drives. It’d be one thing or the other, either somebody would drop a ball, or Bender would miss somebody, or somebody would miss a block or somebody would fumble, or he’d throw it – you know, it’s just a series of errors, is all that tap your chest, ‘my bad’ crap, that adds up and keeps you from scoring. I mean, we had a chance to be up, you know, score 28 points early. And we stormed up and down the field, and you know, our wounds were all self-inflicted. I mean, Washington deserves a lot of credit for the team they are and that sort of thing, but you know we hurt ourselves. We hurt ourselves more than the Huskies hurt us.
On how the o-line protected Bender: Not particularly well. I thought better earlier, better early. Spotty, I thought spotty. Then the second half, I didn’t think our offensive line was anything special at all.
On the defense: Well, we had more plays than them. I didn’t think we played well defensively, I think our problems were congruent at nearly every position, you know, I think we went out there, we allowed ourselves to get frustrated. We tried to play 10 plays at a time instead of one. And we allowed the thing to snowball, and that starts with us as coaches. But uh, we couldn’t get them calmed down, and then, as our team got frustrated we gave in and you know, it was our own hand. And so, that’s got to be addressed. We’ve got to be tougher people and a tougher team.