REPLAY: Sports, October 14, 1996 Washington State University receiver Kevin McKenzie was misidentified in a photo caption on page C4 in Sunday’s editions. Unpublished note: In the published caption, he was identified as David Knuff.
In an ugly game, Shawn McWashington’s touchdown pass fit right in.
The Washington State junior receiver played quarterback in high school, although few would have guessed it after watching him deliver what was the only TD pass in the Cougars’ 24-3 victory Saturday.
Officially, McWashington’s 15-yard toss to Bryant Thomas gave WSU a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
Loosely put, McWashington’s wounded duck found its way to the end zone, where Thomas nearly had time to signal for a fair catch.
McWashington put his own spin on the play, which started with quarterback Ryan Leaf handing off to McWashington on a reverse.
“See, what happened was, I knew if I threw a spiral, it would be a controversy between me and Leaf,” McWashington said, unable to suppress a laugh. “So I had to make sure I didn’t throw a spiral, because you know how the fans are in Pullman.
“They’d have been screaming for me and that would have split the team apart. We don’t want that. You just need cohesiveness.
“I’m a team player all the way.”
As a senior at Seattle’s Garfield High School, McWashington completed 30 of 71 passes for 598 yards - numbers that helped secure his future as a receiver.
WSU’s 17 penalties came within three of the school record set in 1993 against Arizona State.
Excessive penalties have become a tradition for the Cougars, who have committed 10 or more in 38 of 85 games under coach Mike Price.
Early in the season, the defensive line was often guilty of jumping offsides. In recent games, the problems have often involved late hits on kickoff and punt returns.
A late hit on a punt return proved critical in last week’s 34-26 loss at Arizona, putting the Wildcats in position to score the go-ahead TD.
There was no improvement in that department Saturday - the Cougars were flagged for a late hit on the opening kickoff.
By halftime, WSU had been whistled nine times for 117 yards, drawing three personal fouls.
The mess continued in the second half, although the Cougars made it through the kickoff. They were flagged for excessive celebration after Shad Hinchen scored on a 34-yard interception return on the half’s first play from scrimmage.
“The illegal procedure calls with the motion is so distressing,” Price said. “I don’t know what the problem is.”
Bender talks back
WSU defensive tackle Leon Bender found time to converse with some of the 26,722 in attendance.
“I like coming to Oregon State,” Bender said. “The fans here, they like to talk a lot of trash.”
Just like the fans in Pullman, then?
“They’re a little bit like Pullman’s fans,” Bender said, “but our fans, I think they have a little bit more liquor in them.”
With starting tailback Michael Black held out with a sprained ankle, Miguel Meriwether was supposed to be WSU’s featured back against Oregon State.
But Meriwether aggravated a back injury on his first carry, which gained 9 yards. Meriwether would carry just seven more times, giving way to true freshman DeJuan Gilmore.
And while Black is expected to return for this week’s home game against California, Gilmore will remain in the picture.
He carried 15 times for just 37 yards against the Beavers, but played a key role on a third-quarter scoring drive that put the Cougars up 24-3.
“It was real fun,” said Gilmore, whose redshirt status was waived when it became apparent Black wouldn’t play. “I was a little nervous at the beginning - I didn’t know what to expect.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.