No. 9 WSU Falls To No. 16 UW, 26-14

Nov. 17, 2001


AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE - It took less than three minutes for Cody Pickett to realizehe had something special in Reggie Williams on Saturday.

By the end of No. 16 Washington's 26-14 victory over No. 9 Washington Statein the Apple Cup, Pickett had thrown for 371 yards and the freshman receiverhad 11 catches for 203 yards.

After completing a 58-yard pass to Williams early in the first quarter,Pickett didn't have much advice for his top target.

'I told him to keep running his routes hard, and he did,' Pickett said.

Only seven days earlier, the Huskies (8-2, 6-2 Pac-10) felt like nothingwent right in a 49-24 loss to Oregon State. It was Washington State's turn forone of those frustrating days.

The Pac-10's turnaround team couldn't keep it up through the game thatmattered most.

The Cougars (9-2, 6-2) had first-and-goal three times and couldn't score.They committed four turnovers and couldn't count on the players they have allseason: quarterback Jason Gesser, running back Dave Minnich, receiver NakoaMcElrath, and their secondary.

'We played below our standards and we didn't win,' Gesser said.

It cost them a chance at a share of the Pac-10 title and a top-tier bowlgame. Instead the Cougars likely will be playing in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.With Washington State's loss, No. 7 Oregon clinches at least a tie for theconference championship and the Pac-10's Bowl Championship Series berth.

The Huskies probably will be invited to the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in SanDiego. They scored their final 17 points after three Washington Stateturnovers.

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VIDEO: Washington's Reggie Williams sets up a TD on the next play when out-jumps the defender for a 26-yard catch.
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VIDEO: Mike Bush pulls down Jason Gesser's pass in the end zone for a 15-yard TD.
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VIDEO: Jerramy Stevens pulls down the Cody Pickett seven-yard TD pass.
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VIDEO: The Husky defense stops the Cougar offense on three separate occasions inside the 10-yard line.
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'It is real tough to take,' Cougars coach Mike Price said. 'We did thingsthat we normally hadn't done in the other nine games this year.'

Washington's defense held Minnich to 32 yards on 15 carries. McElrath didn'tmake his first catch until about three minutes into the third period.

Greg Carothers forced two fumbles in the third quarter, including one byGesser 6 yards from the end zone that was recovered by teammate Ben Mahdavi.

That wasn't the only time Washington State couldn't convert close to thegoal line.

Minnich was stopped on fourth down at the 1 in the first quarter.

'There's absolutely nothing better than that,' Mahdavi said of thegoal-line stop. 'In every sport there's a scenario you dream about. If you'rea linebacker, you want to meet the guy in mid-air and stop him on a goal-linestand.'

Minnich also threw an interception to Roc Alexander on a halfback optionplay in the third quarter with the Cougars at the 13.

Williams came to Washington touted as a big-game receiver, and he keepsshowing it.

After Mahdavi tackled Minnich on fourth down, the Huskies drove 99 yards fortheir first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Rich Alexis. Williams caught passes of21, 12 and 26 yards in the drive and drew a pass-interference penalty.

'I've been watching this game most of my life,' said Williams, who grew upin nearby Tacoma. 'I was ready to come in and have a big impact.'

John Anderson kicked field goals of 29 and 35 yards in the final 9 secondsof the first half after missing a try from 36 yards.

After the 29-yarder, Washington's Zach Tuiasosopo stripped Jason David onthe ensuing kickoff and the Huskies recovered at the 18 with a second left.Anderson's second field goal sent Washington into halftime with a 13-7 lead.

Gesser, who did not play in last year's 51-3 loss because of a broken bonein his left leg, completed 22 of 34 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.Many of those yards came after the game had been decided.

Washington State scored on a 15-yard pass from Gesser to Mike Bush to tiethe game at 7 in the second quarter. It was set up by one of the Cougars' twoblocked punts.

The 94th meeting in this fierce cross-state rivalry marked only the fifthtime both teams came into the game ranked. The last time was in 1997,Washington State's Rose Bowl season.

All week, Neuheisel talked about how a win Saturday would save the Huskies'season. Now they get to face No. 1 Miami next week in a game rescheduled afterthe Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

'You didn't come here because you want to hide out,' he said. 'You camehere because you want to be the last band on the stage.'

Representatives of the Fiesta, Holiday, Sun and Seattle bowls attended thegame.

The Huskies received a 10-yard delay of game penalty before the firstkickoff because the bands from both schools ran 3{ minutes too long with theirpregame show.

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