What they're saying

FROM LEWISTON TO Los Angeles: Relive the nightmare that was the 2002 Apple Cup with these eyewitness accounts:

"Maybe Rick Neuheisel is on to something, and not just probation. In his media briefing at the beginning of Apple Cup week, the University of Washington football coach icily (or childishly, take your pick) delivered one- or two-word responses to all questions, premises and statements -- whether they were pointed, innocuous or cosmic. And nothing will ever be more cosmically confounding than the 95th Apple Cup, which ended with a huddle of befuddled officials, the increasingly typical boorishness of Washington State football fans who couldn't control themselves from hurling bottles from the bleachers, and the Martin Stadium scoreboard reading, ‘Cougs 26, UW 29." John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

"Although there was no instant replay to erase the doubts for anyone on the Martin Stadium field at 10 minutes before 8 o'clock Saturday night, none of the combatants had any doubt about how the 95th Apple Cup ended. Everyone with purple apparel believes a great play and just call was made. Those decked out in crimson -- especially the majority of the 37,600 crazies in the stands -- know they were robbed by that same call." Dave Trimmer, Spokesman-Review

"Forget the Apple Cup — everything seems in jeopardy now. The Pac-10 championship. A BCS bowl. Everything. Because of this loss the Cougars have to beat UCLA in two weeks, in the Rose Bowl, to play in the Rose Bowl. Who knows what the future holds? Backup quarterback Matt Kegel was predictably horrible in Gesser's absence. He couldn't get the Cougars in the end zone with first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Twice in his first four snaps, the offense was called for a false start. And, with a late three-point lead, on second-and-long, he lofted up for grabs a long pass that Nate Robinson intercepted in front of Mike Bush. With Gesser, Washington State would have beaten Washington. Without Gesser the Cougars probably can't beat UCLA and certainly won't win the Rose Bowl. Kegel looked rusty and nervous and way over his head. He looked more like a freshman than a redshirt junior. His confidence is shot." Steve Kelley, Seattle Times

"But the Huskies' triple-overtime 29-26 victory and all of its prizes - including a winning record and a certain bowl bid - were purchased at tremendous cost for their cross-state rivals. When Washington State lost for the second time this season, the Cougars also lost an opportunity to clinch the Rose Bowl and a share of the Pacific-10 Conference championship in front of their home fans. They lost any chance of playing for the national championship. And they lost the most prolific quarterback in the history of the school when senior Jason Gesser went out with an injury to his right fibula with nine minutes remaining in regulation." Don Ruiz, (Tacoma) News Tribune

"It was fitting the Apple Cup ended on a backward play. Because that's the way Washington State had been going since the middle of the fourth quarter." Carter Strickland, Spokesman-Review

"The ending was as strange as the game itself. The officials huddled and discussed the issue, then one of them switched on his microphone and explained to the capacity crowd that it had just witnessed ‘a backward pass.' ‘And Washington recovered that backward pass,' he said. On that note, Washington State's crazy dreams of a national championship came to an end Saturday night. The Huskies erupted in celebration, the crowd watched in confused silence, and the Cougars tried to come to terms with a 29-26 triple-overtime loss that will halt their two-week spree as the No. 3 team in the country. By ruling that Matt Kegel's first-down play in the third overtime was a "backward pass," officials were saying it wasn't a pass at all -- it was a fumbled lateral. They were saying Washington defensive end Kai Ellis hadn't batted down a forward pass, but had caused and recovered a fumble. They were saying the game was over." Dale Grummert, Lewiston Tribune

"As far as inebriated hecklers go, this one had stats on his side. University of Washington kicker John Anderson had not exactly been money in the bank, and as the 2002 Apple Cup neared the end of regulation play, the front-row critic offered: ‘Hey, Anderson, you can't kick under pressure.' Anderson did not respond. Except with his foot, which fluently answered the slurred critique. Anderson made the game-tying field goal and then added three in overtime to give the Huskies their 29-26 upset victory. Having missed his first three attempts only to bounce back and make five in a row, Anderson was the perfect reflection of this game ... flawed, then brilliant. " Dave Boling, (Tacoma) News Tribune

"Before the incredible ending, the game seemed destined to be remembered as one of the sloppiest Apple Cups ever. The teams combined for four missed field goals, 22 penalties, nine fumbles (four of which were lost) and six turnovers, and a number of blown scoring opportunities, among other miscues." Bob Condotta, Seattle Times

"The Huskies were what many said they couldn't be under Rick Neuheisel; they were tough, tenacious, they ran enough to win, they stopped the run and they hung on to the ball. Playing the nation's third-ranked team, their defensive front simply overwhelmed WSU's offensive line. Kai Ellis and Terry Johnson were the ones doing an imitation of Steve Emtman, not Rien Long. Granted, they didn't have to play against Jermaine Green, who was hurt early, and Jason Gesser, who was hurt later." Blaine Newnham, Seattle Times

"Three hours into the longest, sloppiest, wildest and surely most memorable Apple Cup of all time, one got the suspicion that such a strange game would have to be decided by a surreal ending. And, sure enough, here is how the 95th meeting between Washington and Washington State ended: With officials huddling on the Martin Stadium field to determine whether the Huskies recovered a lateral delivered by Cougars quarterback Matt Kegel - preserving a 29-26 victory in the third overtime - or simply picked up a


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