For the Huskies, quarterback Cody Pickett completed 35 of 57 passes for 368 yards and 1 touchdown. He survived four sacks. Pickett finished the regular season having thrown for a Pac-10 record 4,186 yards.
Sophomore receiver Reggie Williams made 12 catches for 169 yards while Charles Frederick grabbed six balls for 71 yards. Williams now has 2,363 career receiving yards, a school record. Patrick Reddick added six more for 57 yards. Paul Arnold had three grabs, one for the touchdown that put the Huskies to within three late in the fourth quarter. Rich Alexis added 72 hard fought yards on the ground.
The defense in the second half was the story, however. The Cougars were only able to muster 97 yards in the final 30 minutes.
Ben Mahdavi led all Huskies with 14 stops, but Kai Ellis had the game of his career. A former WSU commit out of Kentridge High School, Ellis came back to haunt his old team with 12 stops, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Jason Gesser was only able to complete 14 of 24 passes for 226 yards and 1 TD, and was intercepted by Owen Biddle. He was sacked five times and was hurried and hit repeatedly. Washington didn't allow Devard Darling one catch and Mike Bush was limited to just five catches for 40 yards. Sammy Moore had one grab, that being a 67-yard touchdown. Back up quarterback Matt Kegel was pressed into action after Gesser injured his right fibula after getting sacked by Terry Johnson. Kegel completed 5 of 7 but for only 20 yards and had three fumbles.
Washington got on the board first after Gesser's interception. A 19-yard reception by fullback Zach Tuiasosopo was the big play in the drive. Tuiasosopo made a one-handed grab just past the line of scrimmage and broke two Cougar tackles before being wrestled down at the Cougar 12. Pickett capped the drive with a quarterback sneak on third and goal from the one to put the Huskies on top 7-0 in the first quarter.
WSU answered with a Drew Dunning 34-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game.
Early in the second quarter WSU took the lead after a roll of the dice by Husky coach Rick Neuheisel came up snake eyes. On fourth and one from the Cougar 42, punter Derek McLaughlin took the snap and threw a spiral intended for Wilbur Hooks. Hooks laid out and made the grab but couldn't hang on as he rolled over and hit the turf. The Cougars took the great field position to go 57 yards and take the lead 10-7. The big play of that drive was a 14-yard scramble to move the ball to the Husky 36. A 17-yard Gesser completion to TE Troy Bienemann moved the ball to the Husky 12. A pass interference penalty on Nate Robinson in the end zone put the ball on the two, where Jermaine Green took it around left end to make it 10-7 WSU.
Washington attempted to tie the game but a 50-yard John Anderson field goal attempt sailed wide left.
It would take the Cougars just two plays to go up by 10. On second and nine from the 33, Gesser threw deep to Sammy Moore, who was running just a step ahead of Derrick Johnson, who was in press coverage. Moore made the catch and broke Johnson's tackle at the 20 and ran for the touchdown and Martin Stadium was rocking.
It looked as if WSU would deliver the deathblow on their next drive when Jerome Riley took a handoff from running back John Tippins on a reverse and raced 35 yards all the way down to the Husky 32. Then the Husky defense got tough. Tippins was nailed for a one-yard loss and Gesser was sacked by Terry Johnson for a seven-yard loss. On third down, Manase Hopoi chased Gesser and took him down as he was getting rid of the ball, forcing a Cougar punt. Kyle Basler's boot was downed at the Husky 8.
Washington moved it gamely up field on the arm of Cody Pickett. He hit Reggie Williams on a fade pattern for 24 yards, and then Charles Frederick for six and 12 yard gains, to move it all the way to the Cougar 35. Once again the Husky offense stalled as they neared the Cougar red zone and this time John Anderson's 52-yard field goal attempt bounced off the right upright, no good.
Washington State had one final opportunity to bury the Huskies but the Washington defense kept the underdogs in the game. On their final drive of the half, WSU drove all the way down into the Husky red zone as the clock ticked away. The Huskies overcame a personal foul and a pass interference penalty in the end zone to keep the Cougars out of the end zone. A fake field goal passing attempt by holder Colin Henderson was snuffed out by Marquis Cooper as he forced Henderson to ground the ball to end the half with a 17-7 WSU lead.
Washington's defense owned the third quarter. They created two turnovers and held the Cougars to two three and outs, but the offense was only able to put three on the board.
Kai Ellis created the first turnover by stripping Gesser and recovering it on the Cougar 34. The Husky drive stalled when Pickett fumbled the snap on third and goal from the two. Pickett recovered the fumble but the loss was 14. The Husky offense was unable to muster any points as John Anderson's field goal went wide right.
On the next possession Pickett was stripped of the ball by WSU defensive end Fred Shavies. The ball was recovered by Isaac Brown all the way back at the Husky 25.
Once again the Husky defense came through and when Drew Dunning's 32-yard field goal was no good, momentum was still with the guys in the white jerseys.
A 37-yard Pickett to Williams connection moved the ball down to the Cougar 29, and once again the offense sputtered. A holding penalty was the culprit this time, forcing the Huskies to attempt their fourth field goal of the game. For the fourth time, Anderson missed. This time he was given a reprieve, as he was roughed while watching his kick sail wide right.
In a game that was decided by kickers, it would be the last kick Anderson would miss.
With a fresh set of downs on the Cougar 11, Washington promptly lost seven yards on first down when Alexis fumbled a pitch. After two incompletions, Anderson made it from 35-yards out to pull the Huskies to within a touchdown.
Wilbur Hooks came up with the big defensive play as the third quarter came to a close. Hooks was one on one with Mike Bush. As Bush made the catch, Hooks kept him in his sights, closed, and caused a fumble that Marquis Cooper recovered.
The key point in the game came early in the fourth quarter as Gesser was run down and bulldogged to the turf by Terry Johnson. Gesser was folded backwards and had to leave the game with a injury to his right fibula. Matt Kegel came in and was sacked by Ellis, fumbling the ball in the process. Manase Hopoi didn't turn around in time to see the ball and the Cougars recovered.
The Huskies took over on their own 27 with 7:53 remaining. A grounding penalty on Cody Pickett pushed the ball all the way back to the 8, ruining the drive before it began. Derek McLaughlin stood in his own end zone as he punted the ball back to WSU.
Disaster struck as McLaughlin took the snap, walked two steps forward and dropped it. Instead of scooping it up, he attempted to soccer the ball downfield, drawing an illegal kicking penalty. WSU took over on the Husky one-yard line with 6:46 remaining in the game.
A false start penalty moved the ball back to the six. Kegel was sacked again, this time by Hopoi, but the Cougars were able to hang onto the ball and boot a 22-yard field goal to go up 10 with 4:41 remaining.
That is when the Husky offense found a spark. After a special teams blunder forced them to start their drive on their own 8-yard line, Pickett found Paul Arnold for a 9-yard pickup. He then found Reddick for a nifty 20-yard catch and run to move the Dawgs out of their own red zone. Then Pickett wound up and heaved a deep ball for Reggie Williams, who was double covered. Williams went high into the air and came down with the ball for a spectacular 48-yard reception over Marcus Trufant. A WSU pass interference penalty was declined, but a roughing the passer flag was accepted, moving the ball to the WSU 7. Pickett hit Arnold on a slant at the goal line for the score that drew the Huskies to within three with 3:13 remaining.
John Anderson had his best kickoff of the game, a high floater that Sammy Moore gathered in and was crunched by Eric Roy at his own 12. Three plays later Washington had the ball back at their own 35 with 2:44 remaining.
Reddick picked up 10 on a reception and another 10-yard pickup by Williams moved the ball into WSU territory. A fade pattern to Paul Arnold looked like the game winner but Arnold was unable to come up with the ball in the endzone, and John Anderson was true from 27-yards with just 15 seconds remaining out to force the game into overtime.
The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, as Anderson was good from 34 and Dunning was good from 42 yards out. The second overtime opened with a 32-yard field goal by Dunning to put the Cougars on top. Washington looked as if they had won the game on the second overtime as Pickett hit TE Kevin Ware for the apparent winning TD, but the play was called back and Pickett was ruled to have illegally thrown the ball twice (the first was the ball slipping out of his hand and him catching it). The flag moved the ball back and John Anderson was forced to make his field goal from 46 yards out. He made it by the width of one football.
That set up the third overtime. After Pickett was sacked by Isaac Brown, John Anderson was forced to make this one from 49-yards out. It was perfect, setting the stage for Kai Ellis' heroic final defensive play.
The Huskies finish their season at 7-5 and will definitely go to a bowl game. WSU is now 9-2 and faces UCLA on the road to end their season. They are 6-1 in the Pac-10 conference and need to beat the Bruins to gain the Rose Bowl berth.
After the nature of the loss set in to the hometown fans, the mob turned very ugly. The Washington State Cougar student section began hurling empty alcohol and water bottles down onto the elated Huskies and onto innocent bystanders. It was the worst show of sportsmanship ever witnessed by most reporters in attendance, as several players and reporters were struck by glass bottles and required medical attention afterwards. Even noted Cougar columnist Jim Moore from the Seattle PI, the proudest of WSU alums, exclaimed, "This is so embarrassing. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior." Watching the bottles rain down on the Husky crowd was reminiscent of when Anthony Quinn was stoned by the villagers in "Zorba The Greek." It was terrible, out of control, and the police just sat by and idly watched.