Swogger falls in big win

PULLMAN — Just when it looked like the night would unfold as well as could be expected against the severely outmanned Idaho Vandals, WSU's seemingly perfect night – great intensity, a ground game, no more serial drops by the receivers – came to a sobering halt. First there was Idaho's TD with 17 ticks left on the clock to spoil the shutout. Second, more significantly, was the news that starting quarterback Josh Swogger hurt his knee and is doubtful for the Pac-10 opener at Arizona next week.

Suddenly, the 49-8 victory doesn't seem so sweet.

Head coach Bill Doba said Swogger injured the postanterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while planting the leg in the third quarter. It's a far less debilitating knee problem than the anterior cruciate, but the prognosis is that second-year freshman Alex Brink will be the Cougars' starting quarterback in Tucson.

True freshman Gary Rogers, ticketed for a redshirt season, now moves into the No. 2 spot and all-world junior punter Kyle Basler, a two-time All-State second team quarterback at Class 2A Elma High, will take practice snaps this week as an emergency back up.

Swogger appeared unfazed by the knee. He was on the sidelines walking unencumbered throughout the second half, and didn't mention a word about his health in a post-game interview on Fox Sports Northwest.

Swogger had his best night ever in a Cougar uniform, completing 12 of 19 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns – three of them to receiver Jason Hill and another to Marty Martin. Swogger's four TD passes put him in elite crimson company. He is now one of just eight Cougar quarterbacks who have thrown four or more TD passes in a game: Jason Gesser, Ryan Leaf, Mark Rypien, Drew Bledsoe, Timm Rosenbach, Jack Thompson and Mike Pattinson.

Speaking of the record books, Hill became just the eighth player in Cougar history to score three TDs in one game. He took a screen pass 76 yards to paydirt in the second quarter to send the Cougars into intermission with a 28-0 lead. Over the last two weeks he's hauled in more than 300 yards worth of passes.

In all, the Cougars piled up 509 yards of total offense on 67 plays. The running attack, ground to a halt in the first two games of the season, finally got on track. WSU rushed for 286 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Chris Bruhn had 132 of those yards, including a 67-yarder in the third quarter that set up the first of two rushing TDs by Allen Thompson. Thompson finished with 71 yards. Jerome Harrison added 40 and Kevin McCall 34. Harrison, a JC transfer, scored his first-ever Cougar TD on a 19-yard run up the middle in the third quarter.

The offensive line did not surrender a sack.

The Cougar defense, smothering against Colorado a week ago, worked its magic again, forcing six fumbles (recovering three), picking off Idaho's first pass the game (Karl Paymah), limiting the Vandals to 3 of 13 third conversions and not allowing them past midfield until the second half.

Will Derting led the way with eight total tackles. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Aaron Johnson, making his first-ever start, was No. 2 on the list with five stops. Two of his linemates -- DT Odell Howard, also making his first start, and freshman DE Paul Stevens -- posted the first sacks of their careers.

Jed Collins

TALK ABOUT VERSATILE: WSU true freshman linebacker Jed Collins of Mission Viejo, Calif., was all over the field against Idaho – literally. He recovered a fumble on a kickoff, returned another kickoff 24 yards, was a blocking back on a handful of the two-back sets the Cougars ran for the first time this season and caught a pass out of the backfield from Brink for a 27-yard gain. He also saw action at outside linebacker, posting four tackles. Another fresh face in the Cougar line up was Brandon Asuega-Stark, a junior walk-on from Sammamish. He made a vicious stick on a fourth quarter kickoff and also saw action on offense at blocking back. His name, by the way, is pronounced Aussie-ah-ga.

COMING UP 7s: Freshman placekicker Loren Langley was a perfect 7 of 7 on extra points attempts, tying him with Joe Danelo, Drew Dunning and others for sixth-most PATs in a single game. The record – 12 PATs in one game – was set by Chuck Diederick in WSU's 84-27 win over Idaho in 1975. Danelo and Dunning also had their busy days against Idaho.

HELLO UP THERE: For the first time since he became offensive coordinator under Mike Price, Mike Levenseller worked the game from the press box rather than the sidelines. Doba said Levenseller and quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach thought communication with their young signal callers would be better with Rosie up-close-and-personal, so Rosenbach came to the sideline and Levy went to the booth. "It worked out pretty good," Doba said. "I imagine we'll stay this way for awhile."

DOING IT WITH CLASS: The Cougars kept the ball almost exclusively on the ground in the second half. "We got ahead and you never want to embarrass a neighbor or rival," said Doba.

NEXT WEEK: The Cougars, now 2-1, travel to Tucson to take on Arizona, 1-2. The game will be the fourth straight Cougar contest broadcast live, with ABC doing the honors. Kickoff is at 12:30. Saturday the Wildcats lost to No. 21 Wisconsin, 9-7, in a game delayed 88 minutes due to lightning. The ‘Cats had a chance to win it with 47 seconds left, but kicker Nick Folk's 47-yard-field goal try missed to the left. Last week the 'Cats lost to Utah, 23-6. They opened the year with a 21-3 win over Northern Arizona.

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