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Washington State capitalizes on turnovers, punt block

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Washington State's defense picked up
where it left off last season.

The Cougars, who led the nation last year in takeaways (48),
came up with two interceptions and blocked a punt in the fourth
quarter, and Josh Swogger threw for three touchdowns in a 21-17 win
over New Mexico on Friday night.

It was a rousing start for a defensive unit that lost nine
starters and has 12 freshmen and sophomores on its two-deep roster.

"We've got a long way to go, but I think we got decent
protection from all the freshmen," Washington State coach Bill
Doba said.

Swogger threw scoring passes of 13 yards to Trandon Harvey and 4
yards to Troy Bienemann in the fourth quarter to erase a 17-7 New
Mexico lead in the season opener for both teams.

The first score finished off a 14-play, 82-yard drive in which
Swogger completed eight passes, including one on fourth-and-9 to
Jason Hall to the New Mexico 11. Two plays later, Swogger found
Harvey open with 9:54 left.

The Cougars' defense forced New Mexico to punt, and cornerback
Omowale Dada made the block. Teammate Tyron Brackenridge recovered
the ball and went out of bounds at the New Mexico 4. On the next
play, Swogger threw to Bienemann, who made a one-handed catch at
the back of the end zone.

"We really pulled together as an offense in the second half,"
Swogger said. "After we scored, the defense got fired up and let
me know they were going to get the ball back. They got the blocked
punt and that ended up being the deciding factor."

New Mexico's next drive ended near midfield with Husain
Abdullah's interception of a pass by Kole McKamey.

"It was a tale of two halves," Doba said. "I thought
defensively in the first half we played really well and in the
second half the defense got us going."

Washington State's comeback negated a sterling one-two punch by
New Mexico halfback DonTrell Moore and wide receiver Hank Baskett.
Moore scored on a 61-yard run and rushed for 167 yards on 24
carries, the most by a running back against WSU since former Ohio
State star Maurice Clarett had 230 yards in 2002.

Baskett caught nine passes for 165 yards, but it wasn't enough.

"It was disappointing after the way we had played," Baskett
said. "Mistakes just got us tonight."

New Mexico's losing streak against Pac-10 schools reached eight
games, including losses the last two years in the Las Vegas Bowl to
UCLA and Oregon State. The Lobos' last win over a Pac-10 team was
in 1979.

Moore, who rushed for just 12 yards against Oregon State in last
year's bowl loss, got 82 of his yards in the third quarter.

Washington State, which lost 16 starters from a 2003 team that
went 10-3 and beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl, struggled until its
defense took over in the fourth quarter.

Wes Zunker's 21-yard field goal with 14:57 remaining gave New
Mexico a 17-7 lead, but it was all Cougars after that. Alex Teem
had two interceptions, and the Cougars' defense, which gave up 222
yards to New Mexico's offense in the third quarter, held the Lobos
to 61 yards in the final 15 minutes.

Through the first three quarters, Moore and Baskett gained easy
yards.

Baskett had catches of 54 and 45 yards, the first to set up a
1-yard touchdown run by Adrian Byrd in the third quarter, and the
second leading to Zunker's field goal.

All of the scoring was in the second half.

Washington State broke the scoreless tie early in the third
quarter after Teems intercepted a McKamey pass at the New Mexico
18. On third-and-8, Swogger found Chris Jordan just inside the end
zone.

New Mexico came right back to tie it on Byrd's run. The
McKamey-to-Baskett pass to the Cougars' 16 and a run by McKamey on
the option to the 1 set up Byrd for his first career rushing TD.

Moore's 61-yard scoring run put the Lobos up 14-7 with 7:04 left
in the third quarter.

New Mexico had 415 total yards to Washington State's 271, but
the Cougars' defense forced four turnovers. That and Swogger's
ability to make crucial completions in the fourth quarter were the
difference.

"We really lacked concentration when we had them in long
yardage situation and we gave up some big plays in coverage," said
New Mexico coach Rocky Long.