Cougars Cruise Past Sun Devils For Conference Lead
PULLMAN, Wash. - Jason Gesser threw three touchdown passes as No. 8Washington State took over sole possession of first place in the Pac-10Conference with a 44-22 win over 16th-ranked Arizona State on Saturday.
Jermaine Green scored on runs of 13 and 10 yards as Washington State (8-1,5-0) became the front-runner for the Rose Bowl.
The Cougars kept star Sun Devils defensive end Terrell Suggs away fromGesser, who broke Jack Thompson's school record for career yards passing.Jerome Riley caught two TD passes.
Gesser was 18-of-32 for 250 yards and was intercepted twice. A 5-yard passto Riley with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter gave Gesser 7,823 career yardspassing, breaking the mark of 7,818 Thompson set from 1975-78.
Gesser also set a Washington State career record for touchdown passes with62, surpassing Ryan Leaf - who threw 60 from 1995-97. Gesser broke Thompson'sschool record for total offense last weekend against Arizona.
Suggs finished with one sack, but Washington State sacked Andrew Walter sixtimes - including three by defensive tackle Rien Long.
Walter completed 31 of 51 passes for 328 yards, finding Mike Pinkard forscoring passes of 35 and 23 yards, but the Cougars stopped the Sun Devils twiceon downs inside the 3-yard line.
Arizona State (7-3, 4-1) was held to 37 yards rushing, while the Cougars ranfor 135 yards.
Riley caught eight passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Shaun McDonald,Arizona State's conference-leading receiver, was held to 78 yards on sevencatches.
The Cougars scored on their first possession, a 31-yard TD pass from Gesserto Riley, who also hauled in a 39-yard scoring pass from Gesser. WashingtonState built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter after Drew Dunning hit a 31-yardfield goal set up by Hakim Hill's fumble.
Gesser also threw a 1-yard TD pass to Troy Bienemann.
Mike Barth hit field goals of 36 and 22 yards for the Sun Devils, who alsogot a safety when Gesser recovered his own fumble in the end zone after punterTim Parker pinned the Cougars on their own 1.
Dunning also hit a 47-yard field goal at the end of the first half to putWashington State up 27-6. Dunning missed attempts from 43 and 35 yards.
The Cougars capitalized on Sun Devils turnovers, scoring 17 points off twofumbles and two interceptions.
Suggs leads the NCAA with 18ï¿½ sacks. He needs just one to break the Pac-10'ssingle-season record of 19. The league began keeping track of sacks in 1982.
The Cougars defense showed no ill effects of a locker room fight Tuesdaythat resulted in the suspension of linebacker Ira Davis for breaking cornerbackJason David's right cheekbone.
Davis was indefinitely suspended and David will miss six-to-eight weeks.
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer