5:00 PM ET, September 16, 2006
CenturyLink Field, SEATTLE, WA
SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington State quarterback Alex Brink clearly heard the home crowd booing in his direction and chanting for his backup.
The junior quarterback simply shrugged them off, displaying impressive resolve in leading a vital Cougars' comeback Saturday afternoon.
Brink caught a touchdown pass, then drove the Cougars 81 yards in the closing minutes, setting up Loren Langley's winning field goal with nine seconds left in Washington State's 17-15 win over Baylor.
"When you play this position it's pretty clear not everybody's going to be your best friend or love you," Brink said. "It is what it is and that's OK. I choose to play this position and I take the responsibility that goes along with it."
It was the fifth straight year the Cougars (2-1) have played at Seattle's Qwest Field. They're now 4-1 in those games but Saturday's crowd of 41,358 was the smallest of the five games.
Brink was pelted with boos and chants for backup Gary Rogers on Saturday during a woeful second quarter that was a combination of dropped passes and incompletions.
Instead of letting the crowd get to him, Brink rebounded in a positive manor, completing 13 of 16 passes in the second half for 153 yards, and leading a 14-play drive for the winning score.
Langley calmly kicked the 17-yard field goal, after missing his previous two attempts this season.
"It's something we've talked about since last season, the ability to finish the ball game," Brink said. "I can see a little bit of an identity forming, a team that's pretty strong-willed."
And a team with a pretty good defense.
With the Cougars' offense sputtering, the Washington State defense corralled Baylor and its spread offense, holding the Bears (1-2) to 68 yards of offense in the second half and sacking quarterback Shawn Bell five times. Baylor finished with minus-10 net yards rushing, and turned the ball over four times.
"This just drives you insane," Baylor coach Guy Morriss said. "We've got some talent on this football team and we're not making plays. That's the thing that drives me nuts."
Despite the dominant defense, the Cougars never pulled away and the Bears retook the lead with 5:24 left. Brink hit wide receiver Michael Bumpus on a short pass and as Bumpus tried to spin on defensive back Dwain Crawford, Nick Moore blindsided him and knocked the ball loose.
Cornerback Anthony Arline scooped up the fumble and returned it 40 yards to give the Bears a 15-14 lead. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Brink calmly marched the Cougars downfield, converted on third-and-8 early in the drive with a 10-yard completion to Brandon Gibson, and later a 21-yard pass to Jason Hill on third-and-1. Bumpus then got redemption with a 25-yard reception, taking the ball to the Baylor 14.
Baylor's defense stiffened near the goal line. On first-and-goal at the 2, DeMaundray Woolridge fumbled but Washington State recovered. Brink then tried two QB sneaks, but was stopped on both attempts.
The Cougars' called a timeout with 14 seconds left, setting up Langley's kick.
"I was pretty comfortable going out there," Langely said. In the first half, coach Bill Doba passed on having Langley attempt a 42-yard field goal and went for it on fourth down. "In no way was I not ready for that kick."
Brink finished 21-for-32 for 251 yards and caught a 4-yard TD from running back Dwight Tardy midway through the third quarter to give the Cougars' a 14-9 lead. It was the first TD reception by a Washington State quarterback since Drew Bledsoe caught his own 2-yard TD pass on Oct. 27, 1990.
Bell threw a 12-yard TD pass to Justin Fenty -- the freshman's first collegiate reception -- midway through the first quarter to give Baylor a 9-0 lead. The Bears got a safety when Tony Thompson's snap went over punter Darryl Blunt's head and out of the end zone.
But Baylor could never establish a running game and Bell was under pressure from Washington State's defensive line for much of the afternoon. Five different Cougars sacked Bell, who was 31-for-48 for 256 yards and two interceptions.
"I don't mind getting beat if I go down swinging and give it everything I've got," Morriss said. "But to lose a game like we lost today, that is what is driving me nuts."
Brink completed seven of his first eight passes, but was just 1-of-8 in the second quarter, and was replaced near the end of the half by Rogers, to the delight of the student section chanting for the backup.
Washington State coaches have been trying to get the sophomore a series or two in each game and he hasn't disappointed. After Baylor muffed a punt, Rogers had the Cougars in the end zone in three plays, throwing a 13-yard TD strike to Hill and cutting the Bears' lead to 9-7. Rogers has now led the Cougars to a TD on his first series in all three games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-16||6-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-2|
|TD||7:47||JUSTIN FENTY 12 YD PASS FROM SHAWN BELL (RYAN HAVENS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||4:25||JASON HILL 13 YD PASS FROM GARY ROGERS (LOREN LANGLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 34 yards.
|TD||7:25||ALEX BRINK 4 YD PASS FROM DWIGHT TARDY (LOREN LANGLEY KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 82 yards.
|TD||5:24||ANTHONY ARLINE 40 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (FAILED 2PT PASS)||15||14|
|FG||0:09||LOREN LANGLEY 17 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 81 yards.