Washington State rewind: Cougars reversed Apple Cup script in resounding win


SEATTLE – Travell Harris led a ‘Go Cougs’ chant as he perched on someone’s shoulders amid a crimson swarm of over 1,000 people that had blanketed the grounds of Husky Stadium.

The longtime Washington state slotback, who also celebrated his birthday on Friday, made the “Dubs Down” hand gesture, eliciting more applause from inspired fans.

A few yards away, Laura’s quarterback Jayden called for Ol ‘Crimson, then stuck the WSU flag into the grass in midfield.

Deon McIntosh was given a funny penalty for kissing mascot Butch T. Cougar after crossing the plane for touchdown.

Max Borghi kissed the Apple Cup, smoked a cigar, and later explained how he despises the Washington Huskies and the color purple.

Coach Jake Dickert lifted the travel trophy high and received props from Governor Jay Inslee as WSU athletic director Pat Chun and chairman Kirk Schulz beamed nearby – perhaps knowing full well they would offer to Dickert a five-year-a-day head coach contract later.

These are some of the images from Friday’s striking scene. WSU blew the Huskies 40-13 for the Pullman program’s biggest margin of victory in the 121-year-old Interstate Series.

The emotional celebration was a fitting crown to a grueling regular season that has gone from dismal to delicious for the Cougars (7-5, 6-3 Pac-12), who are now awaiting a selection show on December 5 that will reveal their destination of bowl.

Although UW (4-8, 3-6) was led by a team of outgoing coaches and stumbled at the end of their worst season in more than a decade, the visitors’ party in Seattle felt justified. . It had been eight years since they claimed bragging rights in Evergreen State.

The post-game revelry won’t be forgotten anytime soon, but let’s see if we can remember the one-sided idiosyncrasies of the game itself.

Mission included

The previous WSU regime drew criticism from Coug fans after several of Apple’s last seven Cup losses.

During their period of dominance in this series, the Huskies were often content to rush three and drop eight in pass coverage – because WSU’s air raid offense never really gave to UW of reason to play the race.

Cougars fans were likely to voice their frustrations after their team averaged 12 runs per game throughout the futility streak against their hated foes in the west.

Contemporary WSU staff, attending their first Apple Cup on Friday, have taken a new approach.

The Huskies continued to empty their defensive box and the Cougars continued to lead it straight at them.

“If they have to drop eight, we’re going to make them swallow it,” Borghi said.

Tailbacks Borghi and McIntosh totaled 178 yards on 38 carries, injuring a UW front that entered the Pac-12’s Day 11 on rushing defense at over 190 yards allowed per game.

WSU put him in the hands of his RBs four times per possession.

Borghi set a career-high with 22 rushing attempts and registered two touchdowns to share the lead in the program’s career goalscoring record (41 touchdowns).

An image of Borghi enjoying a cigar with the trophy resting on his lap went semi-viral on Friday night.

“Holding that Apple Cup trophy is something we’ve all dreamed of,” said Borghi after recording the best performance of his three games against UW.

Run-pass options apparently became more prevalent in the Cougs playbook under Dickert. De Laura converted some key early tries with the options keepers.

He struck a pose from the grass after rushing 12 yards outside and slipping in the middle of the fourth. That first try sparked a series of goals that took WSU’s lead to 20 points.

It had been 16 years since WSU had written so many rushes in an Apple Cup.

Hours after the match was over, WSU offensive coordinator Brian Smith took to Twitter and cast some shade on his rivals.

He shared a well-publicized photo of former UW coach Jimmy Lake wearing a hat with the phrase “Run the Damn Ball” in block letters.

“I understood the mission !!!” Smith tweeted.

Unlike previous parts of the Apple Cup, WSU has imposed its will in the racing game while UW has never been on the ground (14 rushes, 10 yards).

The Cougars’ run-and-shoot interrupted 19 over 5-yard runs – and six over 10 – behind an offensive line that fashioned wide lanes against a slim UW front without giving up a sack and consistently giving Laura enough time to work. its progressions.

“I’m taking them out to dinner as soon as possible,” Borghi said of the big men, who played without senior center Brian Greene on Friday. “I love these guys. These guys up front are the reason we won this game.

De Laura diced the vaunted UW high school, completing 21 of her first 22 attempts and finishing with an 84.3% completion rate – the highest percentage for a Coug QB in the history of the ‘Apple Cup and the # 4 mark for WSU passer in one game.

The rising star from Hawaii split the hits among five receivers on his first six shots. De Laura’s distribution and precision in the middle game kept UW on edge.

“He was very sharp,” said Dickert of Laura, who finished the regular season atop the Pac-12 standings in touchdowns (23) and yards (2,751). “It was comfortable in the pocket. Let us give credit to the offensive line.

Four passers totaled at least five receptions each. Calvin Jackson Jr., who faced NFL draft prospect Kyler Gordon, recorded 68 yards.

True freshman outside receiver De’Zhaun Stribling had seven career best catches over another probable Pro Husky at Trent McDuffie. Fellow Donovan Ollie had just 161 yards on 11 starts this season, but set career highs against UW in receptions (five) and yards (68).

In five games under Dickert’s defensive spirit, WSU’s offense is running the ball at a rate of 52%. The run-and-shoot system generally favors the pass around 60/40.

But Dickert is one of those who stresses the importance of establishing a physical advantage early on, and he emphasizes winning in the rushed second-half battle.

Although it was a bad year at Montlake, the Huskies’ defensive numbers were still among the best in the Pac-12. That is to say until Friday.

WSU has amassed more points than the UW has allowed in a game since 2014. The Cougars’ 454 yards – 245 assists, 209 rushing – were the fifth most points the Huskies have given up in a single released within the past five years.

The Cougars hadn’t scored more than 20 points in an Apple Cup since 2012, and they hadn’t scored 40 or more in the series in 14 years – their most recent triumph in Seattle.

“We ran the ball – that’s the answer,” Borghi said.

The UW defense had collected 16 takeaways upon entering the match. Over the past seven Apple Cups, Cougar slippers had become a staple in the series.

WSU had committed 26 combined giveaways in its seven-game Cup slippage.

In this drought victory?

Nothing.

“It’s fun to see this click attack,” Dickert said.

The best was good enough

Under Dickert’s tutelage, the Cougar defense enjoyed a turnaround season, going from a unit prone to cover failures to a turnover-producing machine that bent but rarely broke.

UW’s offensive, meanwhile, collapsed this year.

Due to injury issues, an ineffective rush attack and unstable quarterback play, the Huskies ranked near the bottom of the Pac-12 in major stat categories – producing just over 20 points and 300 yards per game.

All this considered, the Cougars thought their “best” would be “good enough,” Dickert said.

“We knew that when we entered the game. We didn’t have to be a superhuman team, we had to be ourselves.

For good measure, WSU played near its peak – despite a few key plays dropping in its high school.

The Cougs pissed off true first-year Husky quarterback Sam Huard – who threw four interceptions after being propelled into his first career start – and held UW under 10-yards until the end of the second quarter. .

The WSU defensive front sent in inventive formations in the third downs, lobbying behind its “Cheetah” sidelines Ron Stone Jr., Brennan Jackson, Willie Taylor III and Quinn Roff. The Huskies only moved the chains twice in the third downs before their last two practices.

“Just showing different looks, doing different things, letting (Huard) see different things and just being able to rally on the ball,” said linebacker Justus Rogers of WSU’s defensive success.

Only three Husky possessions traveled more than 30 yards. Two ended in UW touchdowns and another, at the end of the third period, was stopped in the red zone when Rogers caught a misguided pass from Huard and brought it back 60 yards.

The WSU forward sacked on the night, but forced UW out of the race early and prompted Huard to throw off unbalanced throws hastily on three interceptions.

Nickel Armani Marsh, a Gonzaga Prep graduate, scored two picks, sheltering one 28 yards for the Cougs’ exclamation mark midway through the fourth quarter.

“Talk about a guy who is Mr. Consistent,” Dickert said of Marsh. “(Marsh is) from Washington state, not very recruited. He walked with us and he is a captain who will be titular for three years. What else do you have to say about the kid? “

Marsh’s 6 pick marked the first defensive TD of the year for WSU in 16 games under this staff.

Considering the Cougars’ talent for takeout, this fact may come as a surprise. Only two FBS teams recorded more turnover than the WSU (27).

“We joked about it a bit, and to finally get there I’m so proud of the guys and the way they play and attack every day,” said Dickert. “They gave us everything they had and I’m so proud of it.”

The UW’s 200 yards of total offense was the least the WSU allowed in a game this year.

The last time the Huskies failed to amass more than 200 yards in an Apple Cup – 1994, when the Palouse Posse limited UW to 197 yards in a 23-6 Coug win over Pullman.

Between 1970-2019, UW had scored 20 points or less in seven editions of this rivalry game. The Huskies have averaged over 35 points per game over the past seven Apple Cups, all double-digit wins for the West-Siders.

In 2021, WSU took advantage of a favorable game and turned the tables.

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