No. 6 Cougars rally to win wild game of give-and-take
PULLMAN, Wash. -- In this game, there was a lot of giving before Washington State finally took control.
The Cougars, who lead the conference in takeaways, had an uncharacteristic five passes intercepted and lost two of four fumbles, yet rallied to beat Oregon State 36-30 in a game marked by miscues on both teams.
The Cougars (7-1, 4-0 Pac-10) remained at No. 6 in this week's AP poll. They'll travel to Los Angeles next weekend to take on No. 3 Southern California in a Pacific-10 Conference showdown.
"It's very uncomfortable to go through all those ups and downs," WSU safety Eric Coleman said. "One minute you are up and on top of them and they fight back. But at the same time ... we weren't going to give up. It was a dogfight."
There were a combined 12 turnovers, three safeties, 15 punts and 22 penalties and only 18 total yards of rushing in a matchup between the league's top offensive and defense teams.
Washington State saw a 14-0 lead evaporate in the second quarter and trailed 28-16 before rallying on a pair of late touchdown passes from Matt Kegel to Scott Lunde. The wide receiver was benched for poor play in the second quarter, but returned late in the third to key the Cougars comeback, hauling in eight catches for a career-high 110 yards.
Lunde, a fifth year senior with only two previous touchdown catches, confronted offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller after a bad play in the first half and spent time on the sidelines.
"It was tough. I was holding back the tears the whole first half because it's my last year ... and I want to play every second of the game," Lunde said. "It was hard, but it turned out pretty well."
Lunde's second TD catch, with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, put Washington State back on top, 29-28.
Kegel, who threw three TDs, avoided Beavers blitzes by finding Lunde on slant routes across the middle.
"Today was just my time," Lunde said. "I felt like I was in the zone."
Kegel was 21-of-40 for 305 yards, but threw five interceptions -- one more than he had in the Cougars' previous seven games this season -- and also lost two fumbles.
"I haven't seen anything like this in my life. It was a nightmare," Kegel said of his miscues. "I'm not blaming anything on anything, except a couple batted balls, a couple tipped balls. Guys being in the right place at the right time for them. They got me."
Washington State coach Bill Doba called it "a heck of a ballgame."
"We jumped up on top of them and they battled back," he said. "On offense, we struggled early, but when we had to have it down at the end, Matt threw the ball in there and we made some great catches."
Oregon State's Mitch Meeuwsen had three interceptions, one that he returned 45 yards for the Beavers' first score.
Pac-10 Conference rushing leader Steven Jackson was held to 85 yards on 28 carries, but the Beavers (5-3, 2-2) were held to just 15 net yards rushing.
"He never really got on track, but he made a lot of good, tough runs," OSU coach Mike Riley said of Jackson. "A five yard run was a big run tonight for either team. We knew it was going to be this type of game."
Kirk Yliniemi kicked field goals of 51, 35, 41 and 35 yards for the Beavers, who had hoped to bounce back from a 38-17 loss to Washington last week in Corvallis, Ore.
Jonathan Smith ran 2 yards for the Cougars' first score, then added a 22-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Kegel also hit Devard Darling with a 16-yard scoring pass.
Cougars punter Kyle Basler took a knee in the end zone to run out the clock, giving the Beavers their second safety. The first came when Kegel was sacked in the end zone.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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