COUGS TAKE TAILPIPE AGAIN

SEATTLE -- Washington State's hopes of a second-straight trip to the Rose Bowl came crashing down today as the Cougars squandered a 10-point lead and committed a mind-bending seven turnovers, in the process gift-wrapping a dramatic 27-19 victory for underdog Washington.

Like the previous two Apple Cups, the Cougars came into the contest favored and looking for their 10th win of the year. And, seemingly, they could have put away their arch-rival a number of times. But, again like the last two years, the Cougars melted down inside the red zone.

Two trips inside the Huskies' 5-yard-line netted just two Drew Dunning field goals. And two other drives deep into UW territory were snuffed out by interceptions.

A year ago in the triple overtime loss to the Dawgs, two trips inside the five netted the Cougars just three points. And the year before that, three trips inside the five produced just three points.

A Cougar victory would have given UW (6-6) its first losing season since 1976 and secured a second consecutive Pac-10 co-championship for WSU (9-3).

For the third time this season, the Cougars committed seven turnovers, but — having won the previous two turnover-fests against UCLA and Oregon State —- Lady Luck would have no more.

The turning point came with just two minutes left on the clock. The Huskies were on their own 46, facing a fourth-and-four situation when Husky QB Cody Pickett hit Charles Frederick on a short strike underneath that secured the first down and carried the ball to the Cougar 39.

Thirty seconds later Pickett drilled a 21-yard laser to Corey Williams that appeared to craze off the outstretched hand of Cougar safety Erik Coleman at the 1-yard-line. And just like that the Dawgs were ahead for the first time all day.

"They did a good job in their two minute drill," said Coleman, who earlier in the game picked off a pass deep in Cougar territory. "They eventually ended up in the red zone and they made a big play when it counted. We were playing an underneath coverage and I was supposed to go over the top; unfortunately I wasn't able to get there. I couldn't make the play. It was a nice throw and a nice catch."

He added, "I think we all fought hard today, we gave it our best effort. When some guys were down they stepped up and they did a good job. I always felt that we had chances to stop them. Credit to them, they came to play today."

Washington State's post-season play remains in speculative status —- although the Rose Bowl is definitely out of the picture —- it is likely the Cougs will be selected to participate in the Holiday Bowl on December 30 in San Diego.


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