Sweet Music in Seattle: Cougs advance to 3-0

SEATTLE -- The internationally acclaimed Grambling State University band was the advertised attraction Saturday, but it was a tossup on who really out-played whom. With Jerome Harrison and Jason Hill hitting some sweet notes of their own, the football team from Washington State did its best to upstage the musicians from Louisiana.

Harrison ran for three touchdowns and Hill caught passes for two scores as the Cougs got off to their first 3-0 start in four seasons. The verdict over the Grambling Tigers was 48-7, hardly a surprise but enough for 51,000-plus at Qwest Field.

"The Ghost," Harrison ran for 113 net yards, his sixth straight game with 100-plus hashes. "The O-line does it all -- I just walk through," he said afterward.

When Grambling ganged up to stop him, quarterback Alex Brink went to the air, for Hill, who hauled in 10 passes for 143 yards. Hill's scoring catches covered 18 and 56 yards.

As relieved as head coach Bill Doba said he felt by jumping ahead early, he seemed just as satisfied with his defense, which flirted with a shutout. It would have been only the eighth WSU whitewash in the last quarter-century.

With Doba emptying his sideline to give just about everybody in the traveling party a crack at the Tigers, the end of the game came off much smoother than the beginning, when a Brink fumble on Wazzu's opening offensive play forced the defense to step up, buried deep on its own 18.

Grambling advanced to the WSU six but Tigers quarterback Bruce Eugene was stuffed on second down. On third and goal the Cougs dropped Ruben Mayes three yards short of the end zone. When a 25-yard field goal kick sailed wide, the Cougar offense went to work, driving 80 yards in seven plays to score, keyed by a Brink-to-Harrison 34-yard screen pass.

Grambling coughed it up on first down on the next series, when Bruce met Bruce at the Grambling eight. Coug defensive end Mkristo Bruce was a big part of the charge that separated Grambling's Bruce from the football. WSU's Eric Frampton recovered and two Harrison plunges later the Cougars were up 14.

That would be enough, although WSU continued to pound away at the Tiger defense. Tight end Troy Bienemann nabbed a seven-yard TD flip from Brink to put the Cougs up 34-0.

After Josh Swogger replaced Brink at quarterback for the second time, big Cody Boyd shook free for a 39-yard passing gain that set up Harrison's third short TD plunge of the night.

The only apparent setbacks were the losses of linebacker Scott Davis to a foot injury, and Adam Braidwood (elbow sprain). With linebacker Will Derting ill at game time, three freshmen – Cory Evans, Jason Stripling and Greg Trent -- inherited serious playing time behind the WSU front four.

"We can't afford to lose him (Davis) but we got out relatively healthy," Doba said. "Evans got a sack. He won't find a bigger quarterback to tackle, that's for sure."

Eugene, listed at 6-1, 260 pounds, put the Tigers on the board with a fourth-down 12-yard scoring pass at 1:06 of the third quarter.

The Tigers, who put a 44-point licking on Alabama A&M a week ago, may have had the defensive player of the game in end Jason Hatcher, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound junior handful for WSU offensive tackle Bobby Byrd.

`We started running right to get away from that 90 (No. 90 Hatcher)," Doba said. "He has a chance to play on Sunday."

It was Hatcher who shut down a DeMaundray Wooldridge dive on fourth-and-one from midfield in the second quarter.

"I wanted to see if we could get the yard," Doba said. "We ran it right at the Hatcher kid and he destroyed us. I'd like to have him on the Cougars' side."

So it wasn't perfect, but it was close enough.

"I'm thankful to be 3-0," Doba said. "It's a good time for a rest."

While the players take three days away from practice, the coaches will spend time evaluating high school seniors. Practice for the Oct. 1 Oregon State game in Corvallis resumes Thursday.

"They got some big guys, they got some shots in," Brink acknowledged. "We got a little sloppy in the second quarter but we're happy that we responded with a good second half. The coaches got on us about the desire factor, about burying them. The bye week will be good for us, a chance to get guys healthy, get some guys some rest, before Pac-10 play starts."


First Quarter
WSU: Harrison 1-yard run (Langley kick)
WSU: Harrison 1-yard run (Langley kick)

Second Quarter
WSU: Hill 18-yard pass from Brink (Langley kick)
WSU: Langley 31-yard FG

Third Quarter
WSU: Langley 32-yard FG
WSU: Bienemann 7-yard pass from Brink (Langley kick)
GSU: Tolbert 12-yard pass from Eugene (Millison kick)

Fourth Quarter
WSU: Hill 57-yard pass from Brink (Langley kick)
WSU: Harrison 2-yard run (Langley kick)

CF.C Associate Editor Ashley Callan contributed to this report.

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