Cougars Open Season With Win Over Nevada

Aug 31, 2002

SEATTLE - Jonathan Smith had two short touchdown runs and Will Dertingreturned one of his three interceptions for a school-record 98-yard score as12th-ranked Washington State opened with a 31-7 victory over Nevada onSaturday.

Jason Gesser, whose Heisman campaign began in July with a poster put up onthe side of grain elevator in Dusty, Wash., recovered from a slow start tocomplete 17 of 29 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown.

Zack Threadgill was 17-of-30 for 155 yards for Nevada, but he wasintercepted three times - all by Derting, who's an outside linebacker.

Derting's third interception was the big one, and it came as Nevada wasthreatening to score. The Wolf Pack had advanced to the Cougars' 10-yard linewith 6:45 left when Derting stepped in front of Threadgill's pass at the 2.Derting rumbled down the left sideline for the touchdown.

Nevada, a 27-point underdog, used a variety of formations and kept the ballfor nearly 12 minutes in the first quarter. The Wolf Pack took a 7-0 lead on a7-yard run by Chance Kretschmer.

Gesser threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Riley in the second quarterto tie it at 7-all. Riley finished with five catches for 117 yards.

Smith provided the go-ahead score to put the Cougars up 14-7 just before thehalf. The seven play, 67-yard drive was helped by Nevada penalties for passinterference and roughing the passer.

Smith, a junior transfer who practiced sparingly because of an injury, had10 carries for 50 yards. Both his touchdowns were from 2 yards out.

Kretschmer, last season's NCAA rushing leader with 1,732 yards, ran 26 timesfor 67 yards.

Each team netted 108 rushing yards, while Washington State had a 261-174edge in passing. The game was slowed by penalties, with the Wolf Pack beingpenalized 67 yards on eight flags, while Washington State was called nine timesfor 80 yards.

Nevada held a nearly 2-1 advantage in time of possession.

It was the first meeting of the teams and the first time WSU played someoneother than Washington in Seattle since a matchup with USC in the old Kingdomein 1976.

A crowd of 63,588 turned out at Seahawks Stadium, and Washington Stateofficials billed it as the largest pro-Cougars crowd to watch the team.

By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer

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