PULLMAN – For the sixth straight season, the Washington State Cougars lacked the bite they needed to beat their bitter rivals. And in the 111th Apple Cup, the Washington Huskies had plenty.
Amid thick snowstorms, Myles Gaskin once again made the annual rivalry feud his personal playground, rushing 27 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns to carry the No. 16 Huskies to a 28-15 win over the No. 7 Cougars Friday night at Martin Stadium.
By virtue of their 73rd win in the Apple Cup, the Huskies (9-3, 7-2) clinch the Pac-12 North title for the second time in three years and now advance to play Utah next Friday in the conference championship game. The Cougars (10-2, 7-2) lost in Pullman for the first time since the 2016 Apple Cup and squandered their third straight opportunity to claim a North division title.
WSU’s first 10-win season in over a decade will still be enough to earn the Cougars a good bowl game, perhaps a New Year’s Six Bowl still, but they’ll have to wait until next Sunday to figure out where they’re headed.
The Cougars’ Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Gardner Minshew, had his worst performance of the year, failing to throw a touchdown for the first time in 12 games as the WSU starter. Minshew did throw two interceptions, completing 26-of-35 passes for 152 yards.
UW’s offense outgained WSU’s 487-237.
Both teams squandered early opportunities to score the game’s first touchdown. Hard running from Gaskin moved the Huskies into the red zone, but WSU safety Skyler Thomas cut in front of Browning’s pass into the end zone to intercept the UW quarterback.
Then the Cougars coughed the ball up at the other end of the field after a spirited offensive drive. Minshew had 22 and 18-yard passes to his running backs, James Williams and Max Borghi, but when WSU elected to go for it on fourth down – just 12 yards shy of the goal line – an errant snap got away from the WSU quarterback and the Huskies recovered.
Browning connected on a deep throw to Andre Baccellia, who broke away from WSU corner Darrien Molton and hung onto the QB’s pass before falling at the 17-yard line. Then the Huskies turned to their horse, Gaskin, and took a 7-0 lead on 5-yard run from the senior tailback.
UW established a two-score lead on its next offensive possession, driving 80 yards on nine plays. Browning put the ball back into Gaskin’s arms and the running back spun into the end zone for another 5-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
The Cougars, who failed to score a first-quarter touchdown in their sixth straight Apple Cup, did eventually get on the board in the second quarter – and had an opportunity to do it a second time before the half was over.
A 50-yard kickoff return from Travell Harris gave WSU superb field position and a short drive culminated with an 11-yard rushing touchdown up the middle from Williams, for his 15th score of the season.
UW returner Max Richmond lost the ball on the ensuing kickoff after a hit from Cole Dubots, giving WSU possession on the 27-yard line with 28 seconds left in the half. But Minshew’s throw to the back corner of the end zone was intercepted by Byron Murphy, giving UW a 14-7 halftime lead.
The Huskies threatened to pull away in the early stages of the third quarter. A long throw from Browning to Hunter Bryant on third-and-16 gained 59 yards, then a nifty double pass saw Browning toss laterally to Aaron Fuller, who then heaved a 22-yard throw to Hunter Bryant in the end zone.
It would’ve been another 14-point lead for UW, but the Huskies fumbled the PAT and Hunter Dale ran it back the other way for a safety to give the Cougars two points and make it 20-9.
WSU then forced its third turnover of the game when Willie Taylor III strip-sacked Browning, allowing Dillon Sherman to recover the ball on the Huskies’ 23-yard line. The Cougars worked quickly on their next drive and the second touchdown of the game from Williams, a 1-yard end zone plunge, cut UW’s advantage to 20-15.
Twice, then, WSU had chances to take its first lead of the game. But Minshew was intercepted by UW linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven on the first drive and the Cougars were foiled on their next one.
Those spoiled opportunities were costly, because the Huskies re-extended their lead to 13 points when Gaskin sped off in the fourth quarter for an 80-yard touchdown to make it 28-15 and effectively seal the UW win. – Theo Lawson
8:06 – WSU 0, UW 0: Washington State intercepts UW quarterback Jake Browning’s pass in the end zone.
WSU DB Skyler Thomas read the crossing route and picked off the pass at the goal line before returning the ball out to the WSU 18-yard line.
Prior to the interception, UW marched 56 yards in 10 plays behind Myles Gaskin’s running.
WSU opened the game with a 3-and-out after Kyle Sweet couldn’t handle Garnder Minshew’s short pass.
2:51 – WSU 0, UW 0: Washington State turns the ball over in the red zone.
On 4th-and-1 at the UW 12, a poor shotgun snap eludes WSU QB Gardner Minshew and is recovered by the Huskies at the UW 23.
0:08 – UW 7, WSU 0: Myles Gaskin scores on a 5-yard rush as the Huskies quickly strike after the Cougars’ red-zone fumble.
UW went 77 yards in 2:43 thanks in part to Andre Baccellia’s 48-yard reception to get the Huskies to the WSU 17.
Gaskin has carried 10 times for 52 yards and one touchdown.
5:37 – UW 14, WSU 0: Myles Gaskin puts Washington up two touchdowns as he plunges in from 5-yards out for his second touchdown of the game.
Washington had little trouble moving the chains on the drive, facing just one third down on the nine-play, 80-yard possession.
Gaskin now has 64 yards on 14 carries.
0:33 – UW 14, WSU 7: Washington State gets on the board as James Williams finishes a much-needed scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Cougars QB Gardner Minshew, who was having difficulty connecting with his receivers early, started to find his passing rhythm during the drive. He completed seven passes during the drive, including a connection with Calvin Jackson for 7 yards on 4th-and-4.
On the ensuing kickoff, Huskies returner Max Richmond fumbled when he was hit and WSU’s Dezmon Patmon fell on the loose ball.
However, the turnover wouldn’t hurt the Huskies as, three plays later, Minshew was intercepted in the back of the end zone on 3rd-and-7.
12:40 – UW 20, WSU 9: Washington rolls down the field and scores on their first drive of the second half.
The Huskies exectued the double pass to perfection as Jake Browning threw backwards to receiver Aaron Fuller who then threw over the defense to Hunter Byrant for a 22-yard TD pass.
On the point-after attempt, Washington’s kick was blocked and returned by WSU’s Hunter Dale for the defensive two-point score.
The Huskies went 75 yards in just four plays. The long play was a 59-yard completion by Browning to Hunter Bryant.
6:40 – UW 20, WSU 9: Jake Browning fumbles and the Cougars are able to recover on the UW 23-yard line.
Browning was trying to elude pressure in the pocket when he stepped up and lost a handle on the ball. After the ball bounded away WSU’s Dillon Sherman was able to fall on it. Willie Taylor was credited with the strip sack for WSU.
The takeaway was the Cougars’ third of the game.
4:44 – UW 20, WSU 15: Washington State chips away at the UW lead with James Williams finding the end zone from 1-yard out.
The Cougars capitalized on good field position after Jake Browning’s fumble. WSU ran the ball on four of the five plays in the 23-yard drive.
Williams is one touchdown away from tying the school’s single-season TD record of 17, held by Steve Broussard and Jerome Harrison.
2:38 – UW 20, WSU 15: Miscommunication between Gardner Minshew and Dezmon Patmon leads to a UW interception.
Minshew, pressured in the pocket, thought Patmon was going to keep going on a crossing route. Patmon read the zone defense and sat in between the two defenders. Minshew threw the crossing route, Patmon was not near it, and UW’s Ben Burr-Kirven was there to make the interception at the WSU 28.
The Cougars defense was able to weather the turnover and force UW to punt.
12:30 – UW 28, WSU 15: Myles Gaskin goes 80 yards on 3rd-and-1 for his third touchdown of the game.
After Gaskin was stuffed on 2nd-and-1 the Huskies went right back to their senior running back. He has run for 164 yards on 22 carries.
The Cougars will be wearing their Apple Cup finest tonight. In a throwback to their look in the 1992 Apple Cup (see video below) and 96 Apple Cup (see photo below), the Cougs will be in crimson jerseys and pants with gray helmets. Will the script ‘Cougars’ be back on the helmet? [UPDATE: Yes it will]
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