Cook finds good luck charm just in time

PULLMAN—As redshirt senior Steve Cook stood on the 20-yard line just before the start of the 87th annual Apple Cup, he glanced down and saw a shiny silver object between his feet. Staring up at his 6-3, 293 pound frame was the profile of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To find a penny lying face up is considered lucky, but can the same be said for a dime?

Every little bit helps.

Cook, like any superstitious athlete, took it as a sign. He picked up the dime and handed it to junior Bryan Olson for safekeeping. After the game Olson found Cook and gave the dime back. Cook, who had completely forgot about it, said, "I'm going to keep that dime forever."

The dime's luck hardly seemed to be working considering the Cougars had two early turnovers and were trailing after only 1:26 had ticked off the clock.

On the first play of the Huskies second drive, Cook forced a fumble, which ended up being recovered by UW's Kenny James, but the magic little dime was just beginning to prove its worth. Two plays later cornerback Karl Paymah intercepted a Casey Paus pass. It was Paymah's second career interception against the Huskies.

At halftime the Cougars led 21-10, and for the third straight Apple Cup they had a halftime lead. Cook told his teammates in the locker room the game was not over. "The Huskies never lay down and die," Cook said.

Paus threw an interception to start the third quarter and was yanked by UW Head Coach Keith Gilbertson in favor of back-up Isaiah Stanback. After a one-yard rushing touchdown, Stanback later connected with Craig Chambers on a 39-yard passing touchdown and converted the two point attempt. With a new leader on offense the Huskies had cut the lead to three.

The score was now Cougars 28, Huskies 25, 4:04 remaining.

Cook had already seen this ending twice in the last two years, the ending where the Huskies come back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Cook was more determined than ever to prevent it from happening again. "I can honestly say I've never played that hard," Cook said.

After a penalty-ridden drive that covered only 22 yards, but ate up 3:41, the Cougars were forced to punt the ball.

With 23 seconds to make something happen, the resilient Huskies lined up to try and force a miracle. Cook and defensive end Mkristo Bruce sacked Stanback in a combined effort that ultimately ended the game and a six-season Apple Cup drought for WSU.

"I have no words to express the way I feel tonight," a teary eyed Cook said after the game. The Kirkland, Wash. native knows the history of the rivalry and has returned home in defeat each of the last four years as a player.

Cook finished the game with 5 tackles, including 4 solo stops, 2 QB hurries, a forced fumble, a sack, and 10 cents.

Cook said the lucky coin will have a place next to all of his college football memorabilia. It will seem an odd companion in the company of a Sun Bowl ring, a Rose Bowl ring, a Holiday Bowl ring, and a Pac-10 championship ring.

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