How about them apples?

Down nine going into the fourth quarter, the Washington seniors stepped up and rose the the challenge brought on them this week by the #8 Washington State Cougars, defeating them 27-19 in front of a packed house in Seattle Saturday evening.

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  • A mix of 74,549 Washington and Washington State fans, the largest crowd ever to witness an Apple Cup, saw an unbeliveable finish, capped by senior Marquis' Cooper's 38-yard pick six to seal the deal for the Dawgs and give the Huskies their twenty-seventh non-losing regular season record.

    Joking after the game, Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson remarked on the Huskies' second-straight mythical 'Northwest Championship'.

    "We're going to get hats," he said. "Barbara (Hedges) said no rings, so we're going to get hats.

    Senior quarterback Cody Pickett led the final charge for the Huskies, connecting with true frosh Corey Williams down the sideline for a 21-yard score, giving the Dawgs a lead they would not relinquish.

    Cody finished the day 23-45 for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns, to go along with 2 interceptions. Freshman running back Kenny James led the UW ground game, with 70 yards on 19 carries.

    "I want to say congratulations to the seniors," Gilbertson said after the game. "What a great way to go out. It was a marvelous effort by the senior class." The seniors rewarded Gilbertson with a game ball.

    "Next I want to congratulate the fans. That was about as live as I've seen Husky Stadium since the Miami game (2000) or the USC game (1990). It was loud and crazy. It was fun to be a Husky and fun to be down there."

    With both teams averaging near or around 400 yards a game in total offense, it ironically became a defensive struggle right off the bat.

    Aaron Wagner came right up the gut untouched on a blown UW protection and literally took the ball right off of Garth Erickson's foot at the Husky 26-yard line during UW's first possession of the game.

    But the Husky defense was up to the task, limiting Washington State's drive to three points on a Drew Dunning 34-yard field goal.

    Later in the quarter the Cougars capitalized on great field position to drive 33 yards in 4 plays. Matt Kegel found Devard Darling in the end zone for six over Roc Alexander. Dunning's PAT made it quickly 10-0.

    "The effort was there tonight," Gilbertson said of his defense. "It was important that Washington State not start off fast. They've done it all year in the first quarter, so if you can keep them from getting too far ahead we felt like we were still in the game."

    The Cougars' opportunistic defense accounted for 5 more thefts against the Huskies, brining their season total to 45, the most ever by a D1 defense. But on Saturday night, it was the Huskies that came away on the plus-side of the turnover battle, forcing 8 Washington State miscues, including 5 interceptions off Cougar quarterbacks Kegel and Josh Swogger.

    One of those turnovers, a fumble, led to UW's first points - a 38-yard drive culminating with Husky quarterback Cody Pickett finding Charles Frederick alone in the endzone for 6.

    "He just hangs in there," Gilbertson said of the senior signal-caller from Caldwell, Idaho. "I hope everyone appreciates what he's done and how competitive, resilient and how great a kid he is.

    "He was nervous about what kind of reception he was going to get today, but he left them cheering in the aisles."

    Perhaps the biggest throw of Pickett's night came on 4th and 4 on the Washington 46. Amidst a sea of crimson and gray barreling down on him, Cody kept his composure and hit Frederick in stride across the middle for 15 yards to the WSU 39."

    "Yeah, 'z-drive'," Gilbertson said. "And Charles did a marvelous job shaking people and making a run."

    But it was 'bubble pump' that got the Dawgs on top of the scoreboard for good. And while Corey Williams has long since burned his redshirt, he wasn't the guy everyone was expecting Pickett to go to.

    "It was a great job by Bobby Kennedy (WR coach) on an adjustment," Gilbertson said. "And (John) Pettas said 'Let's give it a go.'

    'Bubble Pump' was the same play that Williams had at Arizona where a completion could have possibly broke open that game against the Wildcats.

    Gilbertson talked about the resolve of his team, especially in regard to the defeats the weeks prior to Arizona and California. "I'm proud of the kids and coaches," he said. "After what happened last week we could have been knocked out.

    "But we had a great meeting Monday. And a lot of these guys are the same guys that have been to bowl games their whole career and haven't lost to Washington State their whole career. And Washington State is a heck of a good football team. Their defense is really good, really fast."

    Both defenses played extremely well all game. The Huskies were only able to muster 261 total yards on 87 plays, while the Cougars had 304 total yards on 68 plays. But the turnovers were key, led by UW safety Evan Benjamin, who came in for senior Owen Biddle.

    Biddle, who had been fighting a pinched nerve for the past couple of weeks, started at strong safety, but went out after the first two plays of the Cougars' opening drive.

    So all Benjamin, a sophomore from Redmond, did in a relief role was account for 2 interceptions while leading the team in tackles with 10. The last Dawg to have two picks in a game was Derrick Johnson in 2002 against Oregon.

    Johnson also had an interception Saturday in the beginning of the fourth quarter off of Swogger. The freshman from Ohio came in for Kegel right after UW's first touchdown. He finished the day 10-23 for 107 yards and three interceptions.

    Johnson's pick proved to be an ample catalyst for the Huskies, down 16-7 at the time. James had to retape his ankle after a 14-yard run brought the Huskies to the WSU 17-yard line.

    Shelton Sampson then made the most out of his limited time, scampering 6 yards around end to paydirt, fueled by a Zach Tuiasosopo block.

    But the Cougars didn't come into Husky Stadium ranked without a reason. Behind the running of Jonathan Smith, Washington State marched unabated down the field, getting all the way down to Washington's 17 yard line before their drive sputtered.

    Dunning's third field goal of the night capped off a 4-minute drive and put WSU up by five, 19-14, before Pickett pulled off his fourth-quarter heroics.

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