Happy Holiday Bowl For Cougars

Dec 31, 2003

2003 Holiday Bowl
Washington State 28, Texas 20
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AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Now this was a Holiday Bowl, with big plays all over the place.

No. 15 Washington State scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 16-point lead, then came up with a huge defensive stand late in the fourth quarter to beat No. 5 Texas 28-20 on Tuesday night.

The Cougars came up with big on special teams, too. Punter Kyle Basler was named defensive MVP after pinning the Longhorns inside their 5-yard line four times.

'This win is huge for our program, to beat the No. 5 team,' first-year Washington State coach Bill Doba said.

Sammy Moore pulls in 54-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter against Texas.

The Holiday Bowl has a history of big plays and wild finishes, and this one had both.

With the Longhorns trailing by eight, senior receiver Roy Williams caught a 45-yard pass from Chance Mock to give Texas the ball at the WSU 11 with 2:31 to play.

After Mock threw an incompletion, WSU blitzed hard and forced Mock deep into the pocket. D.D. Acholonu hit Mock and forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Will Derting at the 36-yard line with 2:16 to play.

'They were coming from everywhere,' Chance said. 'We knew coming in that's how they were going to play.'

Texas got the ball back one more time, but Mock was sacked at midfield by Acholonu as time expired.

Derting said the Cougars were pumped up because the Longhorns dissed them at a banquet Monday night.

'They said we have an OK defense and you kind of take that personally,' Derting said. 'It got us fired up.'

Washington State (10-3) won 10 games for the third straight year. At times, Texas (10-3) looked nothing like the highest-ranked team not in the BCS. The Longhorns saw their six-game winning streak end, and with it a chance to post three straight 11-win seasons for the first time in school history.

'They said we have an OK defense and you kind of take that personally.'
Cougar Linebacker Will Derting

The Cougars scored on three big plays in the third quarter to take the lead for good. The big rally came 22 years after the Cougars also scored three touchdowns in the third quarter of their first Holiday Bowl appearance, only to fall just short in a 38-36 loss to BYU.

With the Cougars trailing 10-7, Sammy Moore hauled in a 54-yard pass from Matt Kegel to give WSU its first lead, 13-10, with 9:23 left in the third quarter. Moore caught the ball at about the 20 and came dangerously close to the right sideline as he outraced Cedric Griffin to the end zone. Drew Dunning's PAT hit the left upright.

The Cougars forced Texas to punt, and Moore returned it 51 yards to the Texas 26.

Four plays later, from the 12, Kegel went into motion and the ball was snapped straight to running back Jonathan Smith. Smith had to pick up the low snap from the ground, then picked his way through the defense to score. Smith carried 21 times for 110 yards.

Two Texas possessions later, the Longhorns were pinned deep and Mock had to throw from the end zone. Matt Melton caught the ball at the 13, but was hit and fumbled. Cornerback Jason David picked it up at the 18 and ran it in for a 26-10 lead. The PAT was blocked.

Texas' David Pino kicked a 19-yard field goal with 13:32 to play, and WSU got a safety when Texas was called for holding in the end zone, giving it a 28-13 lead.

Texas closed to 28-20 when Williams, who had been a nonfactor, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mock with 4:29 to go.

Erick Coleman and Matt Kegel celebrate with the champions trophy after their 28-20 victory over Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

'Washington State had a great game plan for us,' said Williams, who passed up the NFL draft last spring to return for his senior season. 'It was pretty impressive. They were getting there when we tried to throw the football.'

Kegel, a cousin of former NFL bad-boy quarterback Ryan Leaf, was playing with a sore throwing shoulder that forced him out of WSU's final two regular-season games. He completed 18 of 32 passes for 203 yards and two TDs, with two interceptions.

Texas was held to just 131 yards rushing with Cedric Benson gaining 83 yards on 22 carries.

After a scoreless first quarter, Benson scored on a 1-yard run for Texas and Kegel threw a 12-yard TD pass to Moore. Pino kicked a 39-yard field goal 4 seconds before halftime for a 10-7 lead. Doba said all week that special teams could help decide the game, and Basler, the sophomore punter, did his part.

'We were looking at 80-90 yards the whole game because that guy's so good,' Texas coach Mack Brown said.

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