Cougars get kicked in the end by ASU
The Washington State football record keeps heading south, but this week's loss was a last-minute heart-ripper instead of a rout. It showed that the...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PULLMAN — The Washington State football record keeps heading south, but this week's loss was a last-minute heart-ripper instead of a rout.
It showed that the Cougars can be competitive and that they can actually play defense.
That's the upbeat news. But it was still a 23-20 defeat to No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday — just painful instead of devastating, which describes last week's rout at Arizona.
The Cougars lost Saturday in a back-and-forth game that had five lead changes and a tie.
ASU won on a 37-yard field goal by Thomas Weber with 50 seconds to play, but the Cougars had a chance to tie. They moved the ball 51 yards to the ASU 29, but Romeen Abdollmohammadi's 46-yard field goal attempt was wide left with 12 seconds to play.
Adios, upset hopes.
"We had a great feeling that we could win this game," said freshman wide receiver Jeshua Anderson, whose 34-yard catch from senior quarterback Alex Brink was the big play on the final drive that set up the field-goal attempt.
It was the Cougars' third straight loss and dropped them to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Pac-10 play.
Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils improved to 6-0, 3-0.
The loss was easier to deal with than the 48-20 disaster at Arizona, and some Cougars saw reason for optimism.
"This just gives us hope," said tight end Jed Collins, who also lined up at times at fullback. "They are ranked real high and we came out and showed we can play with them."
The Cougars did some uncharacteristic things. On the plus side, they played stout defense. On the negative side, they committed a season-high 11 penalties for 90 yards after averaging only 6.1 a game.
One thing in character was another big game from Brink.
In the loss, Brink became the all-time WSU career passing yardage leader. He completed 27 of 50 passes for 369 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He has 8,923 career yards, and the man he passed, Jason Gesser (8,830), was on the sideline to congratulate him when he did it.
"Personal accomplishments don't mean a lot right now, honestly," Brink said. "This is a rough stretch for our team. It was awesome that Jason got to be here for it. That means a lot to me. It was a great gesture by him. At some point I'm sure that will sink in, but right now I'm feeling that loss."
Brink started 1 for 9 as ASU's man-to-man defense affected the Cougars' timing. His interception was in the third quarter and it was costly — a 69-yard return for a touchdown by cornerback Justin Tryon that gave the Sun Devils a 14-10 lead.
Brink said he and receiver Michael Bumpus had different reads on what Tryon was doing.
"If the guy backpedals, he [Bumpus] runs a hitch [a comeback route]," Brink said. "If he steps up, he runs a takeoff. He kind of took a step back so Bump stuttered him. I thought he [Bumpus] was going to hitch, and then Bump left. It was kind of an in-betweener. On those you kind of have to guess, and it wasn't right."
Tryon hot-dogged his way to the end zone and taunted the crowd of 35,117, drawing an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
The Cougars came back to go up 17-14 on a 13-yard pass from Brink to tight end Devin Frischknecht later in the period. Before the quarter ended, ASU drove 62 yards and went up 20-17 on a 3-yard pass from Rudy Carpenter to Brady Conrad.
The Cougars tied the score with 3:58 remaining on Abdollmohammadi's 38-yard field goal. The tying kick capped a 77-yard drive that began on the WSU 2-yard line.
But unfortunately for WSU, the Sun Devils weren't done.
Carpenter completed 19 of 27 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. ASU running back Ryan Torain rushed for 116 yards on 24 carries.
A standout for WSU was junior wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who had a 32-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter and played gamely in the second half with a heel injury. He finished with five catches for 80 yards.
The biggest surprise of the homecoming game was how well the defense played. The Cougars, playing an attacking style, held ASU to 296 yards while gaining 451.
Opportunity knocked for sophomore linebacker Andy Mattingly, and he tore the door off the hinges in his first start. The true sophomore from Spokane got to start because Kendrick Dunn was injured and finished with four sacks and 13 total tackles, five of them solo.
Another first-time starter, safety Xavier Hicks who started for Alfonso Jackson, had 17 tackles (10 solo).
The Cougars, who have had a winless month in each of the past three seasons, face that prospect again as they play at Oregon on Saturday, have a bye, then play UCLA at home Oct. 27.
"We're ready for the challenge, ready for a couple of upsets, and try to just turn this season around," Collins said.
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or email@example.com
|Alex Brink moved past Jason Gesser as the Cougars' career passing leader:|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
UCLA extends win streak in Pullman to 18
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.