Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  WSU football

‘It should scar them’: Washington State surrenders 700 yards, Washington separates in second half for 51-33 Apple Cup win

Nov. 27, 2022 Updated Sun., Nov. 27, 2022 at 2:04 p.m.

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – In the week leading up to the Apple Cup, many presumed this edition of the rivalry game would feature a high-powered Washington passing game versus a stout Washington State defense.

The Huskies’ offense showed up. WSU’s defense never really did.

No. 12 UW piled up a season-high 703 yards – a season-worst for WSU – and separated in the fourth quarter, reclaiming the traveling trophy with a 51-33 victory at Gesa Field. About a thousand Husky fans rushed the field after their team avenged a blowout loss to WSU in 2021, when the Cougs stormed Husky Stadium to celebrate their first Apple Cup win in seven tries.

“I told them in the locker room, it should scar them,” Cougars coach Jake Dickert said. “It should hurt. Scars are good if you learn from them. I remember the jubilation of last year’s game. This isn’t a game that we just game plan for, for seven days. This is 365 days a year, trying to outwork an opponent.”

UW’s aerial attack, led by the nation’s most productive passer in Michael Penix Jr., outclassed a WSU secondary that often looked lost trying to defend the Huskies’ talented pass-catchers. Penix threw for 485 yards, completing 25 of 43 passes and accounting for five touchdowns – he tossed three TDs, rushed for one and caught another on a double-pass play.

“They were one step ahead of us every step of the way,” Dickert said. “They did a good job with their (protection). They are willing to take the ball down the field more than anyone in the country. They hit on a lot of those. … We just never got them off-balance.”

WSU (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12), which came into the game boasting the Pac-12’s top scoring defense at 19.8 points allowed per game, had given up more than 300 passing yards in just one game this season (446, Oregon).

Against UW, the Cougars surrendered 10 passing plays of more than 15 yards, including completions of 75, 48, 47 and 41 yards. The Huskies (10-2, 7-2) averaged 10.5 yards per play and converted 11 of 13 attempts on third downs.

Aside from a punt on their opening drive and back-to-back giveaways in the third quarter, the Husky offense had a spotless performance. UW scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives in the first half and put up 16 points in the final period to put it away.

“They have a solid offensive line, they have a great quarterback that gets the ball out on time and they had receivers that could get the job done, too,” Cougar edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. said. “They played a complete game and we didn’t show up enough defensively.”

WSU’s offense faded after halftime, but came to play early on. The teams traded highlights throughout a shootout of a first half, which included 630 total yards, 33 first downs and 55 points.

The last eight possessions of the first half ended in touchdowns. Penix fired a 26-yard score to Ja’Lynn Polk and hit star wideout Rome Odunze on a 47-yard breakaway on UW’s ensuing drive. Penix caught a throw-back pass from receiver Jalen McMillan and followed blockers for a 30-yard touchdown, and added a 4-yard option run for a score late in the second quarter.

WSU’s offense played its best half of the year, producing 304 yards in the first. Quarterback Cameron Ward struggled with some accuracy issues early, but generated big plays with his feet. He took a scramble 14 yards for a TD in the first quarter. Early in the second period, he dodged three defenders in the backfield, darted out of the pocket and found slotback Robert Ferrel for a 34-yard score on a fourth-and-10. He connected with tailback Nakia Watson on a check-down pass that went for a 15-yard TD, then closed the half with a crisp two-minute drill that produced a field goal, trimming the UW lead to 28-27 at the break.

“We could never get momentum on our side,” Dickert said. “We kept swinging. There were big swings back and forth. We just never got over that hump in the second half.”

Second-half issues have plagued the Cougar offense in recent weeks. WSU’s first-team offense has scored just one touchdown in the second half across the past four weeks – a short carry from tailback Nakia Watson midway through the third quarter Saturday.

WSU managed 129 yards and six points in the second half against UW, which rang up 23 points and 377 yards in the final two frames.

The teams traded the lead seven times in the first half, but the Huskies never trailed after intermission. Penix launched a 75-yard touchdown to McMillan on the first play of the third quarter. On the next Husky possession, Coug linebacker Daiyan Henley forced a fumble and the Cougs capitalized on a short field with Watson’s scoring run, trimming the deficit to two points.

UW responded with a methodical possession, marching downfield and into the red zone, but Penix threw his seventh pick of the year, flipping an errant pass right into the hands of WSU cornerback Derrick Langford Jr. The Cougars couldn’t do anything with the takeaway.

UW tacked on another TD and missed the extra point to keep the door slightly open for WSU. But the Cougs’ offense, which yielded five sacks in the second half, flailed and UW coasted to the win.

“We gave up 51 points,” Dickert noted. “I’m not focused on the offense.”

Ward completed 33 of 52 passes for 322 yards with two touchdowns through the air and another on the ground. Watson contributed 114 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

McMillan and Odunze piled up big plays, combining for 307 yards and two scores on 11 receptions. It didn’t help that WSU was playing without one of its most consistent DBs – senior nickel Armani Marsh was out with an unspecified injury.

UW tailback Wayne Taulapapa was effective between the tackles and logged 126 yards and a late TD on 13 carries.

The teams will now await the NCAA bowl selection show on Dec. 5.

“We’ll learn from (the loss),” Dickert said. “I told those seniors in there that we still got one more, because we earned it. Now, we just gotta wait three weeks or so to get this taste out of our mouths.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Cougs newsletter

Get the latest Cougs headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.