Huskies fall to Cougs in Apple Cup

In a game for last place in the Pac 10, the Huskies and Cougars faced off at Husky Stadium in a battle of conference also-rans. The Cougars have been the most enigmatic team in the conference, leading late in several contests only to cough up seemingly insurmountable leads late in the game. The Huskies did them one better today as they coughed up a late lead and lost to their cross-state rivals, 26-22.

As the morning fog lifted, the only team left in a haze appeared to be the Huskies as the Cougars took their opening possession and drove 68-yards in 10 plays and showed why they are the 12th highest scoring team in the land.

Sophomore QB Alex Brink hit standout WR Jason Hill twice for big gains, one a 20-yarder on 3rd-and-9 and finished the drive with a beautiful 30-yard scoring toss to WR Greg Prator. Prator beat CB Josh Okoebor and S Dashon Goldson on the play in the left corner of the endzone.

When the Huskies took the field again, it appeared that offensive coordinator Tim Lappano decided to stretch the field more with his play-calling as QB Isaiah Stanback overthrew a wide-open Anthony Russo on a streak pattern. After missing on that long pass, the Huskies pulled a play out of their bag-of-tricks.

On 1st-and-10 from their own 35, Stanback pitched the ball to RB Kenny James who pulled up and launched a long pass to the other side of the field where WR Sonny Shackelford was positioned between three Cougar defenders. Shackelford made the catch and squirmed away from the three defenders for an improbable 65-yard touchdown pass and the score was knotted at 7-7.

"I was surprised that I didn't get tackled," Shackelford said following his four-catch, 121-yard performance. "I turned around and when no one was there I just took of running. It felt good."

As the second quarter ended Washington State was driving after RB Jerome Henderson busted loose for his longest gain of the day. Harrison took the handoff off the right side and made a move on Goldson in the hole allowing him to get to the outside. CB Roy Lewis, showing excellent recovery speed, caught Harrison from behind after the senior back had rumbled for 32-yards and that stop would prove fortuitous.

On 3rd-and-10 from the Husky 25, Brink dropped back to pass but before he could set up he was swarmed under by a wave of Huskies including Wilson Afoa, Greyson Gunheim and Evan Benjamin. The sack resulted in a loss of 12 yards and when WSU K Loren Langley hooked his field goal attempt and the Dawgs defense began to gain confidence.

Langley redeemed himself on the next drive when the next Cougar drive stalled at the Husky 40 yard-line. He tied his career long with a 48-yarder and Washington State headed into the locker room at halftime up 13-7.

A 43-yard kickoff return on the opening kickoff of the second-half got the Cougars started right, but they couldn't take advantage of the excellent field position as Langley missed his second kick of the day, hooking a 43-yard attempt to the left.

After the Huskies went three-and-out, Washington got a break when Cougar return man Trandon Harvey muffed the punt and senior walk-on J.R. Wolfork recovered the ball and the Huskies were in business at the Cougar 45.

"They ran a double-team on me," Wolfork said noting the Cougars also doubled the other gunner Durrell Moss. "Durrell did a great job of getting down there, beating the double-team and putting pressure on the returner. He deserves a lot of credit for making that play.

"The returner took his eyes off the ball for a moment and he dropped it. The next thing I knew I saw the ball and I was like ‘I'm getting this ball' and I got it and it felt great. It was amazing."

On their ensuing possession, the Huskies converted on 4th-and-6 on a beautiful out-route to WR Corey Williams along the sideline. Stanback then hit a fade-pass to Craig Chambers in who beat Cougar CB Alex Teems for a 16-yard touchdown and the Huskies were up 14-13 a little over halfway through the third quarter.

"I just saw that I had man coverage, no safety on the top," Chambers said. "(Stanback) gave me a hot-route to a fade. He threw it and I came down with it."

The Huskies held the Cougars to a three-and-out and looked to be ready to have great field position, but Shackelford was stripped of the ball and it was recovered by LB Brian Hall at the Huskies 39 yard-line.

The Cougars were able to convert their own fourth down and then Harrison was able to go in from 19 yards out breaking several Husky tackles on his way to the endzone. The two-point conversion failed, but the Cougars still held a 19-14 lead.

But the Huskies had an answer.

Stanback led the Huskies on an eight-play, 80-yard drive and James Sims capped it off with a four-yard touchdown. Stanback hit Anthony Russo in the corner of the endzone and the Huskies were back in the lead, 22-19.

On the drive, Stanback went 3-for-3 and Sims bulled his way for 19 of his 26 yards for the game.

Neither team moved the ball much before Washington State's final drive as Brink and the Cougar offense took over on their own 20 with 5:31 remaining in the game.

Brink threw six passes completing five including the game-winner with just over one minute left to Harvey, who redeemed himself by catching a bubble screen and running down the Cougar sideline for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

"All I know was a quick throw left," Harvey said. "I looked at (Prator) and I said, ‘Greg, throw that block for me and I'm going to try and score.' The Huskies weren't set, their defense wasn't set and Brink was trying to hurry it up.

"All I know is he threw the ball and everything just went blank as I was running. I just caught the ball and kept running. The only reason I stopped was because I was about to run into the band."

By way of the tiebreaker the Huskies finished last in the conference for a second straight season and the Cougars avoided their first winless Pac 10 season since 1998.

Dawgman.com Top Stories