Cougs blow past Bruins for win six

THE ABC TELEVISION CREW covering the Cougars' 37-15 win against UCLA could only pick one Washington State player of the game –- a task as difficult for the commentators as the Cougar defense was on Pat Cowan and the Cougar offense was on the Bruin secondary.

There was tight end Jed Collins, who had four catches for 84 yards, including a 58-yard first-quarter reception. DeMaundray Woolridge had his first and second touchdowns of the season in the 14-point fourth quarter. Jason Hill had five mostly spectacular catches for Washington State that Cougar fans will likely talk about all week.

Michael Bumpus was another candidate, kicking punts in place of a struggling Loren Langley and returning punts on offense.

The player ABC selected was quarterback Alex Brink, who had a season-high 405 yards on 28-for-38 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

It was Washington State's sixth win and fourth against a Pac-10 team, giving them bowl eligibility on a day the Huskies waved theirs goodbye with a 26-23 overtime loss to Arizona State.

The Cougar win -– highlighted by a second-half shutout on defense, and a 115-yard, nine-point third quarter offensive effort-- snapped UCLA's streak of eight wins at the Rose Bowl. The Cougars are now 6-3, the Bruins 4-4.

On the opening series, UCLA snapped only two plays before Eric Frampton – a strong safety who had an interception in last week's 34-23 win against Oregon – grabbed another pick on the UCLA 43-yard line.

Facing pressure on fourth and two on the Cougars first drive, Brink found Collins on the right side for a 13-yard reception. The Cougars marched to the UCLA 19-yard line, but Loren Langley, who booted the opening kickoff out of bounds, ended the Cougar drive by missing a 37-yard field goal.

Langley also missed a 43-yard field goal in the first half and subsequently strained a thigh. He was replaced in the second half by Bumpus at punter and Romeen Abdollmohammadi at placekicker.

The Bruins, whp started only three seniors, was ignited by a 25-yard reception to Marcus Everett and a 28-yard catch by Chris Markey on their second drive. But the Cougar defense came through again, holding the Bruins to a 37-yard field goal with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.

After UCLA forced the Cougars to go four-and-out on their ensuing series, the Bruins forged a nine-play, 47-yard drive capped by Justin Medlock's 19th field goal with 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

On the Cougars' next drive, Collins showed why he's one of the Pac-10's top tight ends, grabbing his third reception of the game and sprinted to the UCLA 32, dragging a Bruins defender for the final yards of his 59-yard gain.

Collins finished with four catches for 84 yards.

Later in the drive, the Cougs faced four-and-5 and kept the offense on the field for the second fourth down conversion attempt. The gamble paid off with a 20-yard Cody Boyd reception. Three plays layer, Gibson earned the first of his two touchdowns with an ESPN-worthy catch that tied the game with 12:05 remaining in the first half.

Langley converted the extra point, to give Washington State the lead. Brink was 4-for-5 on the 8-play, 90-yard drive.

The Bruins went four-and-out on their next series, which ended with a punt to the Cougar 2-yard line. Jason Hill was the hero of the 98-yard scoring drive, making two highlight-reel catches – one for 35 yards and the other for the 23 touchdown in the left corner of the endzone – which left ABC television commentators asking, "How did he catch that?"

The Cougar defense then held UCLA to a 38-yard field goal with 6:11 remaining in the half.

When the Cougars faced third and 7 on their 22, Brink connected with Gibson for another first down on a 17-yard gain. Brink silenced critics in the first half, going 17-for-21for 275 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

With 1:35 remaining the half, Bruins quarterback Pat Cowan found 6-foot-2 senior split end Junior Taylor for a 36-yard touchdown reception, capping a 5-play, 57-yard drive.

But the Washington State defense prevented a 2-point conversion by UCLA, who went into halftime with a 15-14 lead.

Washington State had 286 net first-half yards to the Bruins' 206, with only 20 Cougar yards on the ground.

Bumpus took over for the struggling Langley on fourth-and-1, booting a 35-yard punt to the UCLA 32. He also punted on the Cougars next series.

Bumpus finished with three catches for 19 yards.

On the Cougars first drive of the third quarter, Bumpus grabbed a 14-yard reception, followed by a 15-yard UCLA penalty. Brink found Hill down the middle three plays later for 19 yards, and connected with Gibson on the following play for his second career touchdown (17 yard touchdown reception) and a 20-15 lead.

The two-point conversion failed, but the Cougar defense didn't, forcing UCLA to go four-and-out on their next drive.

Washington State's offense needed only five plays – including a 34-yard Hill reception – to score a 30-yard field goal from Abdollmohammadi with a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Running back Woolridge increased Washington State's lead to 30-15 with his first collegiate touchdown, ending a six-play, 57-yard drive with 4-yard run.

A Tyron Brackenridge interception gave Washington State the ball on their own 23, but Eric McNeal grabbed Brink's second interception on third-and-6.

But seconds later as McNeal tried to put together a return, Hill streaked by and made a great, athletic play, stripping the ball from the linebacker. Gibson, coming from the backside with similar thoughts of larceny on his mind, recovered on the Washington State 41. The Cougars could not score on that series, but finished the ensuing drive with a 15-yard scoring run near the left pylon.

The win is expected to gain poll votes for Washington State, which hosts Arizona (3-5, 1-4) on Nov. 4.


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