PULLMAN – The Washington Huskies have pulled it before, drawing Stanford offsides on third-and-short to pull out a big win earlier this season.
Not this time.
In the waning seconds of regulation Friday afternoon, tied at 28, the Huskies were at the Washington State 15-yard-line, playing for an easier field-goal try for Travis Coons.
The Huskies rushed to the line of scrimmage, but were whistled for a false start that pushed them back 5 more yards and may have been the difference in a kick that Coons pushed wide to the right to bring on overtime and an eventual loss in the Apple Cup.
“We were trying to draw them offsides,” said UW quarterback Keith Price. “But the ref made a decision to throw the flag.”
Which they did all game – 18 penalties for 129 yards, tying a Washington record set in 1976. The Huskies were flagged for 92 yards’ worth on the second half alone.
Some were obvious, including two pass-interference penalties on a drive that narrowed the Huskies’ lead to 28-17 early in the fourth quarter.
“You’ve got to execute when things get tight, and when it’s a third down we can’t get a pass-interference penalty,” said UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
On the Cougars’ next possession, WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel made perhaps the biggest play of the game, evading several tacklers, completing a 29-yard pass to the Husky 18. A roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive tackle Andrew Hudson gave the Cougars a first-and-goal.
“That’s what can kill you,” Wilcox said.
Two more pass-interference penalties on the same drive helped the Cougars cut the UW lead to 28-25 with 7:26 left.
Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian shook his head at the penalty numbers while not necessarily agreeing with the calls.
“We play some tight coverage and they deemed them pass interference,” Sarkisian said. “I can argue with them until I’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day they have the power to make those calls.”