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Originally published Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:08 PM

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It took an extra trip home, but Cougars defensive end will play in New Mexico Bowl

Pole was sent home after fall-semester grades became known.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A day after reports that defensive end Toni Pole was sent home and will not play in the New Mexico Bowl because of academic ineligibility, Washington State football coach Mike Leach said Pole is here and will start in the game.

“He’s here; he just had to take care of an academic deal,” said Leach after WSU’s last practice before meeting Colorado State.

Wednesday, the website Cougfan.com and the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that Pole had traveled here on a team charter Tuesday, but was sent home after fall-semester grades became known.

It is believed that Pole flew back to Pullman to clear up the issue and returned on a flight to Albuquerque 48 hours after he had originally arrived here.

Asked to elaborate Thursday, Leach said, “I’m not going to go into it. He’s playing, though.”

Pole has 26 tackles and two sacks in 2013. He is best known for his long runback of an interception in overtime against Washington to the UW 5-yard line in the 2012 Apple Cup. He also blocked a field goal this year in a 10-7 win over USC and had a key “hurry” that resulted in an interception by Damante Horton for WSU’s only touchdown.

Placekicker Andrew Furney plays his final college game Saturday, and, with 46 field goals in 60 career attempts, is in position to better the school percentage record held by Drew Dunning (2000-03).

Dunning’s mark is .773. Furney is at .767, but with two or more successful kicks and no misses, would jump to .774.

“It would be really nice,” said Furney. “It’d be cool with the kickers we’ve had here, just to be able to put your name on a list with them.

“(But) the way I look at it, all records are made to be broken. Whatever record I do set, there’s going to be a kicker sooner or later that breaks it.”

Furney has far surpassed all other WSU kickers, including Jason Hanson and Rian Lindell, in percentage success beyond 40 yards, with a 22-for-29 mark (.759).

Furney was a solid 15 of 19 this season, better than the 14 of 20 that won him second team All-Pac-12 last year. But it was a rare year for kickers in the league, and he fell to honorable mention all-conference in 2013.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com



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