Apple Cup Win ‘Feels Freaking Awesome’

By Mason Kelley

PULLMAN, Wash. – As the podium was being set up for the trophy presentation after Washington’s 31-13 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup, Danny Shelton was shouting at pointing at the W on his helmet.

He wasn’t taunting the Cougars. They were already leaving the field. Washington’s senior defensive tackle was signaling to his teammates, making sure they understood what they had just accomplished.

Minutes later, he was standing next to coach Chris Petersen and the rest of Washington’s seniors on top of the podium, reveling in one last Apple Cup victory.

“It feels freaking awesome,” said Shelton, who had four tackles and assisted on a sack. “It’s all that hard work we put in this whole season.”

Whether it was Kasen Williams leaping for a touchdown, Dwayne Washington breaking free for a pair of long touchdown runs or quarterback Cyler Miles finding Josh Perkins for a fourth-quarter scoring strike, the Huskies found a rhythm on offense to match another pristine performance from the defense. 

“The key was trusting each other and playing for each other,” Miles said. “That’s it. I thought we came out energized, focused and ready to play. It’s the best feeling in the world to do it for your teammates.”

Washington spent the week mixing focus and fun. The Huskies invited guest speakers like Brock Huard and Lawyer Milloy to talk about the what the game meant and, when they arrived in Pullman, the players were able spend a little time playing in the snow.

They went from firing imaginary arrows at each other last week against Oregon State to flinging snowballs at the team hotel.

But, when it came time to suit up and play, the Huskies were as focused as they have been all year.

“Being able to play in the snow at the hotel and then being able to lock in right before the game and start fast is just awesome,” Shelton said. “Everybody just kind of had it all inside of themselves.”

For seniors like Williams (three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown) and Andrew Hudson (five tackles and 1 ½ sacks), the game provided an opportunity to make one last statement in Pac-12 play.

“It feels good to come back here and say that we won,” said Williams, who looked more like the player he was before last season’s devastating injury.

For defensive backs John Ross and Kevin King – they each had an interception – it was an opportunity to show how far the Huskies secondary has come, playing well against a vaunted passing attack.

“It means a lot to our city, our fans and our guys, because this is the battle for Washington,” Ross said. “It’s been big for so many years that it means something to our alumni. This game is more personal than any other game, because there’s a lot of tension on both sides.”

With the win, Petersen became the fastest active coach to 100 wins, securing his first Apple Cup victory in his debut season. But, when he talked about the moment, he shifted the attention to the players and fans who fuel the rivalry.

“It’s important, because I know how important it is to our fans,” Petersen said. “I know how important it is to our seniors and how important it is to our entire university. I’m just proud that the guys played that hard.”

As the Huskies walked back to the locker room after the game, the trophy was passed around the seniors. Evan Hudson held it high above his head, while DiAndre Campbell tucked it in one arm like a football while flashing a W with his other gloved hand.

Like Shelton said, for Washington, securing an Apple Cup victory, “feels freaking awesome.”

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