The combination of Corey Dillon and a dominating defense turned the Apple Cup football game into a University of Washington showcase - for three quarters.
But it’s doubtful anyone in the crowd of 37,600 will remember that.
In the fourth period, quarterback Ryan Leaf came to life in rallying Washington State from oblivion into a 24-24 tie, as the Cougars scored three touchdowns in little more than 7 minutes to the delight of WSU fans still at Martin Stadium.
Then, in the first overtime in the history of the cross-state series, Washington prevailed, 31-24. A 3-yard touchdown pass from Brock Huard to Jerome Pathon put the No. 12-ranked Huskies (7-1 in Pac-10, 9-2 overall) ahead.
The Cougars (3-5, 5-6) failed to score on their possession from the Husky 25 in overtime. On fourth down, Chad Carpenter was ruled out of bounds when he caught a Leaf pass at the edge of the end zone.
In the fourth quarter, Leaf began the Cougars comeback by setting up the first touchdown play by completing consecutive passes of 47 yards to Shawn Tims and 40 yards to Kevin McKenzie. Leaf tallied on a 2-yard bootleg run with 8:50 to play.
Then, at 3:46, Leaf and Tims combined on a 33-yard touchdown pass in shaving the Cougars’ deficit to 24-17. And at 1:18, Michael Black completed a 40-yard drive by scoring on a 10-yard run. Tony Truant’s extra-point kick made the comeback complete at 1:18.
Dillon, 225-pound junior tailback, expanded on his UW single-season rushing record by gaining 155 yards on 38 carries. He scored three touchdowns on runs of 1, 1 and 5 yards in surpassing the Huskies’ singleseason scoring record.
But an apparent injury kept him on the sideline for most of the fourth quarter.
John Wales accounted for the other Husky points by hitting one of two field-goal attempts and three extra-point kicks. However, he missed two field-goal attempts, including a 41-yard attempt that hooked left with 2 seconds to play in regulation.
Until WSU’s fourth-quarter surge, the Cougars had been unable to sustain any offensive consistency against the Husky defense.
Through three quarters, Leaf had completed just 5 of 20 for 33 yards. The running attack had generated just 27 yards. Their only points came on a 23-yard field goal by Tony Truant, with 3:30 to play in the third.
Although they led by only 10-0, the Dillon-led Huskies dominated the first half. They outgained the Cougars, 166 yards to 16, as Dillon rushed for 93 yards on 23 carries. They had 12 first downs to one for the Cougars, and that was on a penalty.