Coverage: Fox Sports Net
6:45 PM ET, November 18, 2006
Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) -- Stanley Daniels' big, red, watery eyes scanned the locker room in search of another teammate to hug.
It wasn't hard to find one. After four tumultuous years that would make any man cry -- even a 320-pound lineman -- tears, cheers and big plays finally flowed for Washington on Saturday night.
Battered fill-in Carl Bonnell threw for 271 yards and two quick-strike touchdowns before Louis Rankin romped to a 77-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to rouse the previously flat-lining Huskies to a 35-32 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup.
"It's huge. It's the Apple Cup. I don't care if you're 12-0 or 1-and-whatever," Daniels said, emotions following his tears.
The big plays flowed most of all for Washington (5-7, 3-6 Pac-10) -- and all but ruined hopes for a bowl bid for the Cougars (6-6, 4-5).
Alex Brink, who took Bonnell's scholarship in 2003 when Bonnell decided to go to Washington instead, was 32-for-54 for 328 yards and two touchdowns.
But Brink couldn't trump all this:
--Cody Ellis scoring Washington's first touchdown with an amazing one-handed reception, then a juggling act between his legs, on a 64-yard pass from Bonnell, who acknowledged "a special feeling" on being back inside Martin Stadium.
--Marcel Reece -- with six catches in 10 games -- erupting for a 69-yard touchdown catch and run.
--Reserve linebacker Chris Stevens blocking a punt for another touchdown.
--Marlon Wood's 87-yard kickoff return, after the Cougars had taken a 14-7 lead, to set up Rankin's first score.
And then Rankin's late romp.
Asked which big play killed his team, Washington State coach Bill Doba said, "All of them."
No wonder Daniels was weeping moments after he accepted the Apple Cup from Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire in the locker room.
"There was a lot of emotion," Daniels said. "We poured our hearts out to the team."
There were almost as many big plays as Daniels and his classmates had seen in four years while going 14-32 at UW.
Four of Washington's scoring drives were four plays or less. The fifth touchdown came when Stevens slid through to block a punt by Darryl Blunt and fell on the ball in the end zone for a 28-17 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Washington State answered with another long drive and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Alex Brink to Cody Boyd. A disputed, 2-point conversion pass to Brandon Gibson made it 28-25 Washington with 11:17 left.
But on the next scrimmage play, Rankin -- who finished with 118 yards rushing -- found a perfectly blocked right side and zipped free for his 77-yard score to put the Huskies ahead 35-25.
An interception of Bonnell by Husain Abdullah at the WSU 44 with eight minutes to go recharged the Cougars. Gibson then made a diving catch in the end zone of a 33-yard pass from Brink -- with Mesphin Forrester on his back -- to close Washington's lead to 35-32 with six minutes remaining.
Brink drove his team near midfield in the final two minutes. But an intentional grounding penalty ruined the drive, which ended when Jordan Reffett sacked Brink on fourth-and-16 with 59 seconds left.
A wild Washington celebration ensued, with players releasing two months' worth of frustration amid fans and band members who stormed the field.
"It was a ton of fun," senior linebacker Scott White said.
Daniels was still in uniform, minus his gold helmet, a good 20 minutes after Washington's first win since September. It was as if he didn't want to take off his gear, knowing it was his fellow seniors' last games after four, long years of enduring three head coaches.
"Leaving it all out there one last time, winning this game, this was our storybook ending," White said.
A week after their sixth straight loss -- 20-3 pratfall to previously winless Stanford -- the Huskies played like that disaster never happened.
"It speaks to the courage of our young men," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "A week before we were written for dead ... They never stopped working. And I'm proud of them for that."
The Cougars finished the regular season with three consecutive losses after being ranked No. 25. Last season, they started 3-0 then lost seven straight before beating Washington.
Saturday, they allowed Washington's offense -- wayward since do-it-all quarterback Isaiah Stanback was lost with a severe foot injury a month ago -- to score its most points since a season-opening win over San Jose State.
"I didn't see this coming at all. A lot of us were surprised," WSU star defensive end Mkristo Bruce said. "We kind of feel like the only thing that really can beat the Cougars is the Cougars."
This wild game was actually scoreless for a quarter and a half. But the Cougars then went 95 yards in 16 plays, the last Dwight Tardy's 14-yard touchdown run. The teams then scored 21 points in 4½ minutes to create a 14-14 tie at halftime.
Bonnell did give the Cougars one big play when he tried to force a deep pass to a well-covered Ellis. Eric Frampton easily intercepted and ran behind blockers for a 43-yard touchdown return and a 14-7 WSU lead.