<
>

Washington State stuns Huskies in Apple Cup

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Washington State Cougars had heard it all
season. Across the Pac-10. Across the state. Heck, even across
their own campus.

"They're Coug-in' it again."

Through five losses by four points or less -- after blowing leads
in bitter defeats to nationally ranked UCLA and Oregon, and to
California and Oregon State -- they kept "Coug-in' it," which is
crimson and gray for "choking late in games."

But Saturday, Washington State didn't "Coug" away the Apple
Cup.

Instead Brandon Harvey, who earlier had fumbled a punt to help
rival Washington take the lead for the first time, caught a 1 yard
pass from Alex Brink and ran 38 yards for the winning score with
1:20 remaining to propel Washington State to a 26-22 win over the
stunned Huskies.

Harvey, making just his fifth start in three years, scored his
first touchdown of the season in his final collegiate game. He
needed a key cut block from fellow receiver Greg Prator, who had
earlier scored his own touchdown.

"It was almost an out-of-body experience," Harvey said.
"There was nobody by me. I was so shocked. Then I just kept on
going.

"The only reason I knew to stop running was because I almost
went into the band."

National rushing leader Jerome Harrison hardly stopped en route
to 207 yards on 36 carries. He was a big reason why the Cougars
(4-7, 1-7 Pac-10) won their second straight over the Huskies (2-9,
1-7) after six consecutive Apple Cup losses.

The thrilling finish capped a wild final 31 minutes with four
lead changes. It also ended a seven-game Washington State losing
streak -- and provided vindication for a team that had grown tired
of "Coug-in' it" jokes.

"We WON!" senior linebacker Will Derting bellowed with his
arms raised afterward.

"Sorry," he said. "A little excited.

"It makes up for the whole season," the co-captain said. "I
won't remember anything from this senior season in games, except
this one."

It was the Cougars first Apple Cup win in Seattle since 1997,
when Ryan Leaf led them through the Huskies to the Rose Bowl.

There will be no bowl of any kind for the Cougars this season,
though. They finished with their worst conference record since
1999.

Yet the raucous, stomping player celebration on Washington's
midfield "W" logo gave no hint of that.

The Cougs' dancing led some Washington players to charge out and
confront them, namely senior center Brad Vanneman. A few, brief
shoving matches occurred within the mass of 100-plus players.

So ended Washington coach Tyrone Willingham's debut season,
which was actually better than last season's school-worst mark of
1-10 overall and 0-8 in the conference.

"A tremendous letdown," is what Willingham called the finish,
after the Huskies had taken a 22-19 lead with 14:50 left on a
three-yard run by tailback James Sims.

As for his players' response to the Cougars' celebration,
disciplinarian Willingham said he was "very disappointed to the
point of being embarrassed."

In the huddle before the decisive play, Harvey, a senior, had
told classmate Prator to block what turned out to be Washington's
only outside defender, cornerback Josh Okoebor. When quarterback
Brink saw Okoebor and the Huskies late getting into defensive
position, he quickly called for the snap and threw immediately to
Harvey, who caught the ball while still near the line of scrimmage.

Prator then dutifully took down Okoebor, and Harvey had his
uncontested march to the Cougar band.

"Yeah, this does make everything better," Prator said.
"There's no better way to go out than this."

Harrison finished the season with a school-record 1,900 yards
rushing. He extended his own Pac-10 record with his 14th straight
100-yard game by halftime, but his team led only 13-7.

But Washington wasn't taking advantage.

One week after rolling for a season-high 490 yards in a
startling win at Arizona, the Husky offense repeatedly missed
opportunities through the first 2½ quarters. Quarterback Isaiah
Stanback twice overthrew wide-open receiver Anthony Russo on
potential touchdown passes. When Russo dropped a third-down pass to
begin the second half, the usually unflappable Willingham punched
the air in disgust.

But then, on the next play, Washington finally found an
opportunity to seize.

Harvey muffed a low Washington punt. The ball bounded to Husky
J.R. Wolfork at the Cougars 35. Seven plays later, Stanback lofted
a 16-yard scoring pass to Chris Chambers. Washington had its first
lead, 14-13, with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Washington State recaptured the lead, 19-14, less than five
minutes later on a 10-yard Harrison run. But Stanback then
completed three straight passes for 61 yards to set up the Sims
score.

That, in turn, set up the Cougars' answer to "Coug-in' it" yet
again.

"Yeah, we had tough losses, and we put that on ourselves,"
Brink said. "But we believed in each other."