Cougars Prepare for Season Finale at Hawaii
Nov. 24, 2008
PULLMAN, Wash. -
at Hawaii Warriors (6-5)
November 29 Aloha Stadium
SATURDAY'S MATCHUP: Coming off their fourth Apple Cup victory in the past five years, the Washington State Cougars (2-10) close out their 2008 schedule when they visit the Hawaii Warriors (6-5) at Aloha Stadium Saturday at 6:05 p.m., Hawaiian time (8:05 p.m. PT). It will mark the fifth time in the past 50 years the Cougars have ended their regular season with a team other than Washington (2002 UCLA, 1998 Hawaii, 1987 California and 1959 Houston).
WSU-HAWAII SERIES: Saturday's matchup marks the fourth meeting between the two teams and the first since a 22-14 WSU victory in Hawaii, Nov. 27, 1999. The Cougars hold a 2-1 advantage all-time, having dropped the first meeting 20-11 in 1925. Four years later WSU evened the series with a 28-7 victory and the only other meeting came in 1999. All three previous games have been played at Hawaii. Saturday's contest is the first of a three-game agreement between the two schools, with Hawaii traveling east for the game in 2009 and the Cougars returning to Hawaii during the 2011 season.
GIBSON PASSES HILL ON CAREER YARDS LIST: With his second catch at Arizona State two weeks ago, an 11-yard reception from Kevin Lopina, senior Brandon Gibson passed former teammate Jason Hill to become the all-time leader in career receiving yards. Gibson, who last week moved into sole possession of second place on the career receptions list (181), enters the final game of his career with 2,738 career receiving yards. He would need 14 receptions to tie former teammate Michael Bumpus on the career receptions list.
HAWAII WEEK PRACTICE SCHEDULE: This week's (Nov. 23-30) practice schedule preceding the Hawaii contest (Nov. 29) will be slightly different than WSU's normal media times. The Cougars will not practice Sunday and Monday, then will hold morning practices at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Media availability will follow the Tuesday practice only. There will be no media availability following Wednesday practice as the team will leave for Hawaii shortly after practice. Coach Wulff will hold his Tuesday conference call at 1 p.m., but will not have his regular Thursday call due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
APPLE CUP GOES CRIMSON...AGAIN: For the second straight year, and fourth time in the last five seasons, Washington State defeated rival Washington to earn the Apple Cup trophy. The win marked the first time in series history the Cougars have won four of five Cups. Head Coach Paul Wulff also became the first Cougar head coach to win the Apple Cup in his debut season since Jim Sweeney did so in 1968. Having won the Cup in 2004, 2005 and 2007, the Cougars needed some late heroics and two overtimes to defeat the Huskies, 16-13. With 54 seconds left in regulation and trailing by three points, WSU marched 69 yards, highlighted by a Kevin Lopina to Jared Karstetter 48-yard pass, before Nico Grasu connected on a 28-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime. The teams exchanged field goals in the first OT and after a defensive stop by the Cougars, Grasu drilled a 37-yard game-winning field goal, after which the Cougar fans stormed the field.
GRASU NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore kicker Nico Grasu was named the Pacific-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week following his performance against Washington. Grasu kicked three field goals, including the game-winner in the second overtime, to clinch the victory. Grasu's first field goal, a 28-yard attempt, came as time expired in regulation, sending it into overtime. Grasu then hit a 19-yarder in the first overtime before clinching the victory with a 37-yard field goal, capping a perfect 3-for-3 afternoon. Grasu is the second Cougar to earn POW honors this season as Marshall Lobbestael was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week following the Portland State contest.
TRENT REACHES 300: Senior linebacker Greg Trent recorded a game-high 12 tackles against Washington to boost his team-leading total to 86 for the season. With his final tackle against Arizona two weeks ago, Trent became the 10th player in WSU history to record 300 tackles in a career. A four-year starter with 36 consecutive starts, Trent finished last week's game with 321 career tackles, placing him seventh on WSU's all-time list.
COUGS HONOR SENIORS: Saturday's contest against Washington marked the final home appearance for 19 seniors who played their last game in Martin Stadium. Prior to the contest the Cougars recognized the players for their contributions to Washington State University and the football program. The list of seniors included A'i Ahmu, Jared Bjerkestrand, Jeff Bowen, Markus Dawes, Kendrick Dunn, Matt Eichelberger, Cory Evans, Devin Frischknecht, Brandon Gibson, Luke Hansell, Adam Hineline, Alfonso Jackson, Vaughn Lesuma, Matt Mullennix, Gary Rogers, Tali Talakai, Greg Trent, Benny Ward and Ben Woodard.
MULLENNIX GETS WIN NUMBER FOUR: Following the Cougars win in last weeks Apple Cup, senior Matt Mullennix, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA prior to this season, became the first Cougar to be a part of four Apple Cup victories. Mullennix was a redshirt freshman on the 2004 squad that posted a 28-25 victory, though he missed the game after suffering a season-ending injury in the season's fourth game. Mullennix was also a part of the 2005 and 2007 winning teams.
COUGAR PRIDE STATUE CEREMONY: Cougar Pride, a 15-foot tall monument commissioned by Gary Schneidmiller (WSU class of '71) and created by artists Mike and Chester Fields, was dedicated during a ceremony at the Martin Stadium plaza, two hours prior to kickoff of the Apple Cup, proudly sponsored by Boeing. Dignitaries included Governor Chris Gregoire, WSU President Elson S. Floyd, Fran Forgette, Chair, WSU Board of Regents, Director of Athletics Jim Sterk, the Fields, and Schneidmiller. In its entirety, the sculpture is 14-feet, 5-inches long nose to tail, 6-feet, 4-inches wide, and weighs approximately 4,500 pounds; the cougar itself will stand 11-feet, 4-inches high. It is located on the Martin Stadium Plaza, adjacent to the main thoroughfare of campus, Stadium Way. Crafted by Mike Fields and his father Chester, the process of creating the statue began in May and was only completed earlier this month when the monument was cast in bronze.
APPLE CUP NOTABLES: With the victory over the Huskies, WSU Head Coach Paul Wulff became the first head coach to win the Apple Cup in his debut season with the Cougars since Jim Sweeney in 1968...WSU's victory also gives the Cougars four Apple Cups in the last five years, the first time in the history of the rivalry that WSU has accomplished the feat...with sophomore cornerback Romeo Pellum's first quarter interception - his second of the season - the Cougar defense has now prevented its opponent from scoring on its first possession in each of the last three games...prior to the stretch, WSU had allowed scores on first possessions in seven of nine games to start 2008...with his five receptions, senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson claimed sole possession of second place on WSU's career receptions list...punter Reid Forrest's 28-yard rush in the second quarter was the third-longest rush of the season for the Cougars at the time...Logwone Mitz's 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the Cougars' longest rush of the season, and WSU's longest scoring play in 2008...the touchdown ended a six-quarter scoreless streak for the Cougars...Mitz's 70 yards was a career high...Tyree Toomer's third quarter sack was the first of his career...after going four consecutive games without a sack, the Cougars have four sacks in their last three games...with 12 tackles, senior middle linebacker Greg Trent passed Gary Larsen (317; 1971-74) to move into seventh place on the WSU career tackles list...Trent now has 321 career tackles...Washington State won the Apple Cup for the first time in overtime...Washington won the previous two Apple Cups (1996 and 2002) that went into overtime.