PULLMAN – Early in a game filled with big plays, Utah’s walk-on quarterback Adam Schulz completed two passes to guys wearing charcoal-colored jerseys who ran the other way for touchdowns in what turned out to be the margin of victory for Washington State.
And the two players just happened to be seniors getting their last chance to roam the FieldTurf in Martin Stadium: Casey Locker and Damante Horton.
About 8 minutes into the game WSU eventually won 49-37, Horton jumped a hitch route and intercepted Schulz’s pass and raced back 22 yards for a touchdown to put the Cougars up 14-0.
The pick-six was Horton’s school record third for the season and record fourth for his career.
“Every time I see the ball, I get excited,” the smiling Horton said. “It was a good play in front of our fans one last time, but also because I did it in front of my mother and little sister.”
On the very next drive, Locker stepped in front of a Schulz pass and ran 39 yards for a touchdown to extend WSU’s lead to 21-0.
“That was so important,” junior quarterback Connor Halliday said of the defensive scores. “We kind of expect it from Damante. But for Casey to do it on senior day, you couldn’t have written the script any better.”
Schulz finished with 347 yards, three touchdowns and the two first-quarter interceptions. Two receivers, Dres Anderson and tight end Jake Murphy, each topped 100 yards receiving.
But coach Mike Leach praised the defense for the two early touchdowns.
“That was really good,” Leach said. “I think the defense affected (Schulz) early. We were fortunate to put it in the end zone.”
Senior safety Deone Bucannon said he was really excited for Locker after his touchdown.
“He’s been through a lot being a fifth-year senior,” Bucannon said. “I ran up to (Locker). I was talking him up. If there was anyone I wanted to get an interception, it was him.”
Bucannon said the defense can leave Horton on an island and the cornerback will neutralize the other team’s receiver on that half of the field.
“He’s done it so many times,” Bucannon said. “He leaves his heart on the field. It’s an honor playing with him.”
“It’s always good to score on defense. It makes the offense want to put more points on the board,” Horton said. “We went out like we wanted to go out.”