Cougars hand one to UCLA
The setup seemed perfect. Washington State was back on the Palouse for its first football game in 35 days.
PULLMAN — The setup seemed perfect.
Washington State was back on the Palouse for its first football game in 35 days.
It was a crisp fall day, with snow still evident on the Martin Stadium turf.
A Dad's Weekend crowd of 25,661 was poised to throw its voice behind the home team.
It seemed the perfect time for the Cougars to attack.
But it turns out the UCLA Bruins are adept counter-punchers. They snatched back-to-back-to-back first-quarter interceptions, rolled up 556 yards of total offense and eventually rolled over the stunned Cougars, 43-7, Saturday.
The Cougars won the toss, took the ball and attacked. They were "just trying to create some offense," coach Paul Wulff said.
That mindset first backfired on the game's third play.
Sophomore quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, starting in place of freshman Jeff Tuel, who injured his knee last week, tried to make something happen on the first possession.
Facing a third down and about 2 feet at his 29-yard line, Lobbestael audibled from a run to pass. He tried to find fullback Jared Byers in the right flat and instead threw the ball to a diving Akeem Ayers.
First down UCLA at Washington State's 27. A minute, 18 seconds had elapsed.
One play, and six seconds later, it was 7-0 Bruins.
Taylor Embree ran past WSU cornerback Aire Justin, who thought he had safety help over the top. He should have, but didn't.
Quarterback Kevin Prince, who had his third 300-plus yard passing day of his freshman season, found Embree at the 10 and he sauntered in for the score.
The next two WSU possessions ended the same way as the first, with Rahim Moore and Ayers picking off Lobbestael passes.
The Bruins scored a touchdown after the third interception for a 14-0 lead, and had built it to 26-0 by the end of the first half.
"You've got to give credit to the defense," said Prince, who directed the Bruins to two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes. "They created the turnovers and we just capitalized."
Prince, who was 27 of 40 for 314 yards passing, scrambled down the left sideline on a 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the longest play of his career.
With Lobbestael unable to generate any offense — he was 2 of 6 for 6 yards and the three interceptions in 20 minutes — WSU turned to senior Kevin Lopina.
Lopina had not played since the second game of the season, moved down the depth chart for Lobbestael, then Tuel.
On his second possession, Lopina eluded UCLA pressure and broke away for what would turn out to be a 36-yard run. But Andrew Abbott caught him from behind and knocked the ball free. UCLA's Reggie Carter fell on it at the UCLA 29 and WSU (1-10, 0-7) had its fourth and final turnover.
Lopina, who finished 7 of 14 for 102 yards, atoned for the mistake in the third quarter, leading a seven-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in the Cougars' only score, a 46-yard pass play to Jeffrey Solomon.
• Bob Robertson, the longtime, 80-year-old radio voice of the Cougars, was honored on the field before the game. The broadcast booth in which he has worked since the 1960s will be renamed the Bob Robertson Broadcast Suite.
Robertson began calling WSU football in 1964 and has done it continuously, with the exception of a three-year stretch from 1969-71.
Robertson is a member of four halls of fame, including WSU's and the broadcast division of the College Football Hall of Fame. His college broadcasting dates back to the mid-1950s, when he did Notre Dame football briefly.
Staff reporter Bud Withers contributed to this article.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.