Cody Pickett completed just 25 of 54 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked twice, threw one interception, and had a ball stripped out of his hands and returned for a touchdown. He struggled with his accuracy and was sacked twice this afternoon.
Reggie Williams was held to just five receptions for 64 yards, while Purdue's John Standeford caught 10 balls for 105 yards and a touchdown. Yakima's Taylor Stubblefield chipped in seven grabs for 92 yards.
"I can't explain why we played so poorly," said a terse Rick Neuheisel following the game. "Even when we were up 17, we didn't play well."
Washington got all of the breaks in the first 15 minutes. Although Purdue's Bobby Iwuchukwu blocked John Anderson's 39-yard field goal attempt, that was about the only thing that Purdue did right.
On Purdue's first punt attempt the snap sailed through the hands of punter Brent Slaton, who was staring into the El Paso sun. Wilbur Hooks tackled Slaton on his own seven. It took one play for the Huskies to capitalize, as Pickett floated a touch pass to Reddick in the back of the endzone. Anderson's PAT made it 7-0 Washington with less than five minutes played.
The Boilermakers next drive was another disaster. Nate Robinson set the tone by blowing through the left side of the Purdue line to bring down Harris for a five-yard loss on first down. On third down, Orton muffed the snap and the ball was kicked out of the scrum and rolled to Marquis Cooper, who sprinted 31 yards for the score, pushing the lead to 14-0.
Washington started their next drive on their own 39. A pass interference penalty on Rogers against Williams moved the ball to the Purdue 37. Pickett hit Ware down the middle for 12 to move into field goal range, and when the drive stalled, Anderson hit a 38-yard field goal to put the Huskies on top 17-0.
The next time the Huskies would score would be over 40 minutes later, and by then the game was out of reach.
Purdue, who had MINUS 14 yards after the first quarter, looked like they would continue to be snake bitten in the second quarter. They drove the ball for the first time in the game, and when Orton scrambled away from Kai Ellis and found Brandon Jones open, Purdue looked like they would be setting up shop on the Husky one yard line. Again the Big-10 team made a stupid gaffe and drew their third personal foul, as Chris Massey was hit in the face by Brandon Jones well after the play. The first down stood, but the new line of scrimmage became the Husky 16. It would be costly as a third down sack by Manase Hopoi forced Purdue to try a 32-yard field goal. Berin Lacevic's kick floated wide right.
After that, it was all Purdue.
It began with a very unorthodox 91-yard, eight-play scoring drive. An 11-yard Joey Harris run moved the Boilermakers out of the shadows of their own goal posts. Harris then burst through the Husky defense for 46 yard gain, and the Husky defense began to lose their composure. Greg Carothers drew a personal foul after the play as he hit WR Chris James out of bounds as several scuffles broke out. The ball was placed on the Husky 12. The defense stuffed Harris for a two-yard loss but another long brouhaha unfolded and linebacker Joe Lobendahn was flagged for a personal foul. The ball was placed on the Husky seven, where Orton found Standeford put Purdue on the board with 5:09 remaining in the half.
Washington went three and out and Purdue took over at their own 34. Carothers appeared to have killed the drive when he burst through and recovered another Orton muffed shotgun snap, but the play was nullified by a procedure call against the Boilermakers. Purdue took advantage of the break and on third and 17, Orton found Stubblefield for a 24-yard gain down the middle of the Husky secondary. Derrick Johnson should've picked off the very next pass as Orton floated one under heavy pressure from Hopoi. Johnson would've gone the distance easy, but he lost the ball in the sun and Ray Williams made the grab for a first down at the Husky 27. It would prove painful as Orton scrambled for 14 yards, and then a play later found Jones open. The Boilermaker tailback ran to the Husky two, where he fumbled it into the endzone. WR Ray Williams was there to recover for the touchdown that made it 17-14 at the half.
The third quarter was no kinder to the Huskies. Anthony Chambers returned the opening kickoff of the second half 51 yards. That led to a 22-yard Lacevic field goal that tied the game at 17-all.
Washington suffered their first turnover of the game when Pickett's throw for Williams was behind him. Reggie tried to one-hand it but the ball bounced away and the carom was intercepted by linebacker Niko Koutouvides at the Purdue 44. Purdue was unable to capitalize, but struck pay dirt on their next drive.
A pair of completions to Standeford moved the ball into Husky territory. A 13-yard Brandon Jones run, one where he broke three Husky tackles, set up a 10-yard Joey Harris touchdown run. The Boilermakers had the lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
The wheels then came off of the Husky wagon entirely as linebacker Gilbert Gardner crashed in on Pickett, stripped him, and ran 19 yards for the touchdown to make it 31 unanswered points.
To that point in the game, Reggie Williams had two catches for 30 yards and had bracket coverage all afternoon and Rich Alexis was hobbling to the Husky locker room for treatment on his ankle.
Washington's next possession ended fittingly with a muffed exchange on third down from center between Pickett and Todd Bachert near midfield.
Purdue salted the game away by going 75 yards in 15 plays and nearly eating eight minutes off of the clock before Lavecic's 29 yard field goal pushed the lead to 34-17 with just 5:52 left in the game.
The Huskies showed some life and struck back with a 12-yard Pickett to Reddick touchdown strike with 3:31 remaining to draw to within 10. They followed that up with another nice desperation drive, but John Anderson's field goal attempt from 24-yards out that would've drawn the game to within one score bounced off the right upright, no good.
For the Husky defense, Marquis Cooper had nine stops and two tackles for loss to go with his touchdown. Greg Carothers also had nine stops and Manase Hopoi had four tackles for loss. Kai Ellis had but one stop on the afternoon. Purdue was able to convert seven of 17 third downs and had 400 total yards.
The Huskies finish the year at 7-6, and weren't able to use the Sun Bowl as a launching pad to 2003, a year that the Huskies are hopeful of being a national contender. "It was a disappointing year. We have to go back to work. This is not what I envision for Husky football," said Neuheisel.
"We really need to get back to running the ball."