No. 11 Washington St. 41, No. 17 Washington 35
SEATTLE (AP) _ Record-setting Ryan Leaf has put the Washington State Cougars back into the Rose Bowl _ after a 67-year wait.
Leaf passed No. 17 Washington silly on Saturday and led the No. 11 Cougars to a 41-35 victory in the Apple Cup, earning them their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1931.
Only three players, now in their late 80s, from Washington State’s 1931 team that played in Pasadena are still alive.
These Cougars will get their chance on New Year’s Day against No. 1 Michigan.
``This football team will be remembered for 100 years,″ Cougars coach Mike Price said.
``It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long (67 years),″ said Leaf, 21. ``I understand what they’ve (Cougars fans) have been waiting for. I’ve been waiting three years.″
The strong-armed Leaf, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to come out for the NFL draft, passed for two touchdowns _ both to Chris Jackson _ and scored a third. He was 22-for-38 for 358 yards with one interception.
Ryan finished his day’s work as the Pac-10′s single-season passing king with 3,637 yards and 33 touchdowns as well as Washington State’s single-season passing yardage leader.
``Ryan Leaf is the best quarterback in America,″ said Price, who developed Drew Bledsoe for the NFL in the early ’90s.
``That guy’s got a rocket,″ said Washington’s Jason Chorak, last year’s Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
The Cougars (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) get to go to the Rose Bowl because they beat UCLA in Pullman, Wash., in August. The Bruins beat Southern California 31-24 Saturday, eliminating Arizona State from the Rose Bowl picture.
The Huskies (7-4, 5-3) lost their third straight Pac-10 game _ their longest losing streak since 1989 _ before the largest Apple Cup crowd in history, 74,268.
Washington’s three-game losing streak cost the Huskies a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Huskies are likely to go to the Sun Bowl Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas, if Arizona State loses its finale against Arizona next Friday.
If Arizona State wins, Washington probably will go to the Aloha Bowl on Christmas Day in Honolulu.
``It hurts that much more because this is a special class that deserves credit for keeping this program together,″ Washington coach Jim Lambright said, referring to the Huskies being put on probation by the Pac-10 in ’93 and ’94 for NCAA rules violations.
Although it was a pro-Washington crowd at Husky Stadium, there was a wild celebration on the field following the game after Washington State finally ended its Rose Bowl drought. Washington State students carried him off the field.
Washington State’s players began celebrating on the field after the Cougars recovered an onside kick on Washington’s 42 with eight seconds left.
After the game, Washington State’s euphoria hadn’t worn off. In fact, it was building for a postgame celebration.
The Cougars are sure they’ll be even bigger underdogs against unbeaten Michigan than they were in the Apple Cup, where the Huskies were favored by 6 1/2 points.
``Once again, I expect us to not get any respect,″ defensive tackle Leon Bender. ``I expect us to be 20-point underdogs.
Freshman Lamont Thompson had three of Washington State’s five interceptions against Brock Huard, Washington’s sophomore quarterback. Huard was 18-for-36 for 283 yards and four touchdowns, the last a 32-yarder to Jerome Pathon which came with nine seconds left. Huard threw five interceptions in Washington’s first 10 games.
Jackson caught scoring passes of 57 and 50 yards from Leaf and wound up with eight catches for 185 yards. Michael Black ran for 170 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries.
The Cougars built their lead to 38-28 with 1:46 gone in the fourth quarter when Leaf recovered his own fumble in the end zone on a third-and-1 sneak attempt. It was Washington State’s second recovery of a fumble for a touchdown.
Rian Lindell kicked a 29-yard field goal for the Cougars with 4:12 left that gave them a 41-28 lead.
Washington State scored the first touchdown of the second half for a 24-7 lead, when tackle Rob Rainville fell on Black’s fumble in the end zone on a play from the Washington 3.
The Cougars went 40 yards for the score after Thompson intercepted a Huard pass that went off of Pathon’s hands.
The Huskies came back to score two touchdowns in 2:53. The first came when Huard passed 38 yards to Fred Coleman and the second, cutting Washington State’s lead to 24-21, was provided by Tony Parrish’s 32-yard interception return at 6:04 of the third quarter.
Leaf came right back to get the Cougars another touchdown, on the 50-yard pass to Jackson, with 3:58 left in the third period, but Huard had a 17-yard scoring pass to Mike Reed with 15 seconds to go in the quarter to get Washington within 31-28.
The Cougars led 17-7 at halftime, scoring all their first-half points in the second quarter after intercepting Huard three times.
Coleman caught six passes for 124 yards and one touchdown.
Washington linebacker Lester Towns had 14 tackles, 10 of them unassisted and four for losses, while Thompson had a dozen tackles for the Cougars.