No. 13 Cougars Take Sun Bowl Title Over Boilermakers, 33-27

Dec 31, 2001

Associated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas - Washington State's defense shut down Purdue in timefor Jason Gesser to rally the Cougars to a Sun Bowl win.

Gesser passed for 281 yards and ran for a touchdown Monday to help No. 13Washington State beat Purdue 33-27.

No. 13 Washington State (10-2) trailed 20-17 at halftime, but the Cougarsheld Purdue scoreless in the second half until the final two minutes.

'Our coaching staff made some great adjustments in the second half after westruggled early,' Cougars coach Mike Price said. 'This is one of the mostsatisfying coaching experiences I've ever had. With all the injuries we've hadthis year, this win is really sweet.'

Purdue (6-6) drew to 33-27 with 1:53 left and recovered the ensuing onsidekick. The Boilermakers drove to the Washington State 22 before turning the ballover on downs.

Drew Dunning hit four of four field goal attempts and Nakoa McElrath caughtfive passes for 116 yards as the Cougars won their first bowl game in sevenyears.

'My timing was off in the first half, but after we went to the shotgun inthe second half, it gave me more of a chance to get my timing down,' Gessersaid. 'We knew what we had to do, but they were blitzing us and took us out ofour rhythm.'

Purdue freshman Kyle Orton was 38 of 74 for 419 yards passing and twotouchdowns, all Sun Bowl records, but was intercepted four times.

'We didn't execute well, and dropped too many balls,' Purdue coach JoeTiller said. 'When you have a young quarterback and things start to get out ofsynch, they tend to stay that way.'

Taylor Stubblefield caught nine passes for 196 yards, a Sun Bowl record, andtwo touchdowns. John Standeford and Tim Stratton each had 12 receptions,sharing a new Sun Bowl record. Stratton boosted his career total to 212receptions, which is third-most in Big Ten history.

'The way Orton can throw the football, Drew Brees' passing records may notlast very long,' Stratton said.

Purdue was gaining momentum in the second quarter when Orton threw a 65-yardpass to Stubblefield that put the Boilermakers on the Washington State 3.

Orton threw to Stubblefield again for a touchdown with 1:56 left in the halfto tie the score at 17.

The Cougars went three-and-out and Purdue drove to the Washington State 33where Travis Dorsch kicked a 50-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to givethe Boilermakers the halftime lead.

Washington State's defense put up the first points in the game when JasonDavid intercepted a pass and ran it back 45 yards with 13:10 left in the firstquarter. The Cougars struck again in the first quarter when Gesser hit MikeBush on a 46-yard pass to make it 14-0.

Purdue scored 20 points in the second quarter. The Boilermakers got theirfirst score with 12:54 left in the half on Montrell Lowe's 1-yard run.

The Cougars scored first in the second half and never trailed again afterDunning kicked a 34-yard field goal with 13:23 left in the third quarter, whichtied the score at 20. Gesser ran for a touchdown from the 1 with 3:04 left inthe third quarter to give the Cougars a 27-20 lead.

Dunning's 15 points and four field goals both tied the Sun Bowl records.

Neither team mounted much of a rushing attack with Purdue running 32 timesfor 55 yards and Washington State 27 times for 81 yards.

'The real benefit about the game was not on the scoreboard, but the help itwill give us going into next year,' said Tiller, whose team is young.

The Cougars' last bowl win came in 1994, when they beat Baylor 10-3 in theAlamo Bowl.

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