Cougars Drop Montana State Despite Losing Gesser

Sept 21, 2002

PULLMAN, Wash. - Jermaine Green's big day was dampened by an injury to Washington State's star quarterback, Jason Gesser.

Green, a little-used reserve who battled a knee injury in fall practice, ran for two touchdowns and caught another as the 16th-ranked Cougars beat Division I-AA Montana State 45-28 Saturday.

Gesser left the game in the third quarter after injuring his upper ribs and the shoulder of his right, throwing, arm. Gesser went to the locker room with Washington State (3-1) leading 31-7 and did not return. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which revealed dislocated cartilage in a rib, but no shoulder damage.

'The plan was to play him a limited amount, like we did,' Cougars coach Mike Price said. 'Had he not gotten a hurt shoulder, he probably would not have been in the game anyway.'

Tyler Thomas completed 26 of 45 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and an interception to lead the Bobcats (2-2). His favorite target was Junior Adams, who caught 11 passes for 181 yards and two TDs.

Green, a junior college transfer, ran for 123 yards on 25 carries. He also caught three passes for 29 yards.

'I figured it might be his coming-out party, and it certainly was,' Price said. 'He showed what he's capable of doing. I think he can still get better.'

Cornerback Marcus Trufant returned punts for 52 and 47 yards, setting up both of Green's rushing TDs.

'I think the difference between Washington State and Montana State today was guys like him,' Price said of Trufant. 'We just basically had some better athletes at some of the positions than they did.'

Devard Darling caught two touchdowns from Gesser, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns before being knocked out of the game. Gesser's arm apparently was yanked backward as he attempted to throw while being sacked.

Matt Kegel took over for Gesser and led the Cougars on a 75-yard scoring drive. Kegel left the game with a right knee injury and Chris Hurd took over in the fourth quarter.

Kegel said his injury was not serious, and he's ready to step in if Gesser isn't ready to play next week against California.

'If I have to play, I have to play,' Kegel said. 'I've prepared myself for three years to be a starter.'

Washington State played with a patched-up offensive line because of injuries to starters, but managed 405 yards of offense.

Montana State scored first on a 5-yard TD pass from Thomas to Hill. The Bobcats stayed close in the first half, gaining 131 yards to the Cougars 139, but were kept out of the end zone.

As they did in last year's 53-28 win, the Cougars started slowly, trailing 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. But Gesser's 33-yard touchdown pass to Darling and Green's two 2-yard scoring runs put them ahead.

Ryan Johnson also scored on a 3-yard TD run for the Bobcats. He finished with 70 yards on 11 carries.

'We couldn't stop their offense,' Montana State coach Mike Kramer said. 'They did not turn the ball over, and we needed to force turnovers to hang with a Pac-10 team like WSU.'

Associated Press Writer

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