So when the brain trust at Cougfan.com sat down to pick the five most memorable performers in Washington State’s bowl history, Sammy Moore – at least on the offensive side of the ball – was the runaway choice for top cat. Of course, his selection wasn't just about performance on the field. It was also about the importance of the game in which he did his work. Defeating the heavily favored Longhorns arguably ranks as one of the five greatest wins in school history.
Oh, and did we mention that Sammy also returned a kickoff for a TD against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl?
Without further ado, here are CF.C’s choices for the five greatest bowlers in WSU history ...
1. WR/KR SAMMY MOORE
Let us count the ways. In the 2003 Holiday Bowl, Moore racked up 193 all-purpose yards -- 66 in receptions, 68 in punt returns and 59 in kickoff returns – and scored two TDs on pass receptions from Matt Kegel of 12 and 54 yards. The Cougs won 28-20 and he was named the game’s offensive MVP. The year before, in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma, he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown late in the game. In the two bowl games combined, he touched the ball 11 times, scoring three TDs and averaging 18.9 yards per touch.
2. DB LAMONT THOMPSON
It’s hard to imagine a bigger defensive day than Thompson's in the 2001 Sun Bowl, when the Cougs defeated Purdue and Kyle Orton 33-27. Thompson, who was named the game’s MVP, intercepted two passes, deflected five more and collected eight total tackles. Four years earlier, the Cougars’ thriller against No. 1-ranked Michigan and Brian Griese in the Rose Bowl, Thompson posted one interception and six total tackles. After his WSU days, he was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft and played with the Bengals, Titans and Jaguars. In case you missed it, CF.C caught up with Thompson recently for a
Where Are They Now? feature.
3. WR/RS VICTOR WOOD
Choosing the 5-10, 162-pounder out of Seattle’s Franklin High wasn’t a question of quantity, though he did collect a head-turning 228 all-purpose yards in WSU’s dramatic 24-22 win over Houston and Andre Ware in the 1988 Aloha Bowl. Nope, with Victor it was all about instantaneous impact. In the span of five minutes on that Christmas Day in Hawaii he put the Cougars on the path to victory. With Houston leading 3-0, the Cougars had marched to the Houston five after Vernon Todd had intercepted Ware. And then the Cougar Nation lost its collective breath as a handoff between Timm Rosenbach and Steve Broussard was bobbled. The ball was on the ground -- and suddenly Wood was there to grab it up and dart into the end zone to put the Cougs up 7-3. Exactly five minutes later, he capped an 80-yard Cougar drive with a 15-yard TD reception from Rosenbach to put the Cougs up 14-3. In all that day, Woods caught 48 yards worth of passes, racked up 52 yards in punt returns, “rushed” the one time for five yards, and collected 123 yards on kickoff returns.
4. DB ERIK COLEMAN
COLEMAN, KEGEL CELEBRATE
The Pride of Spokane played in three bowl games during his WSU career, but his work in the Cougars’ 28-20 win over No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl was truly something special. He was a thorn to the Horns all night, blocking a punt, breaking up four passes, forcing a fumble that Jason David retuned for a TD, and making eight total tackles (seven solo), including a sack. In his other two bowl appearances, he posted 10 tackles against Oklahoma in the Rose, and in the Sun as a sophomore he collected 77 yards in punt and kick returns. Coleman was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and honorable mention All-American choice in that 2003 season, as well as a Nagurski Award contender. He went on to a long career in the NFL with the Jets, Falcons and Lions.
5. QB RICKY TURNER
The 1981 Holiday Bowl was WSU’s first appearance in the post-season since the 1931 Rose Bowl, and fans on both sides of this two-Cougar battle – WSU vs. BYU – got their money’s worth. With star QB Jim McMahon leading the BYU offense, they jumped to a 14-0 lead. That’s when Turner came off the bench and proceeded to run the veer in circles around BYU. Turner rump-turn-optioned his way to 92 rushing yards and two TDs, while orchestrating a running back attack of Don LaBomme, Robert Williams, Tim Harris and Mike Martin that fired up another 157 hashes. His entrance into the game triggered a turnaround that was nothing less than stunning: BYU scored 31 of the game’s first 39 points, WSU 29 of the next 36. To put Turner’s work into greater perspective, consider that the sophomore from Compton found out shortly before kickoff that his grandmother was in intensive care in Los Angeles following a car accident. The Cougars closed to within 38-36 with 5:12 remaining but a key BYU sack of Clete Casper on WSU’s last possession helped seal the deal for BYU.
Bledsoe, 1992 Copper Bowl
No. 1 NFL draft pick carved up the Utah secondary with 30 completions in 46
attempts for a record 476 yards.
RB: Jonathan Smith, 2003 Holiday Bowl (2003 Rose Bowl)
Smooth" rushed for 110 on 21 carries (5.2 avg.), including a 12-yard TD run.
Also caught five Matt Kegel passes for another 51 yards. (Caught five
passes for 38 yards and returned three kick-offs for 24 more in the 2003 Rose
Wright-Fair, 1992 Copper Bowl
The back with the “strength of a lion,” picked up 123 ground yards,
scored twice, and caught 6 of Bledsoe’s passes for another 21 yards.
“Red” Dietz, 1916 Rose Bowl
toughs-as-nails fullback fought through a field of thick mud, rushing for 105
yards, scoring the decisive TD, outshining Brown All-American Fritz
Pollard, and being named the game’s MVP.
Mel Hein, 1931 Rose Bowl
played every play of every game like an all-star, the Rose Bowl was no
Hack Applequist, 1916 Rose Bowl
The Cougs pounded out 313 yards against the Bruins, due largely in
part to the finesse and fierceness of Hack. Those rushing yards stood as a Rose
Bowl record for many years.
Mike Utley, 1988 Aloha Bowl
the All-American wasn’t pancaking Houston defenders he was insuring no one laid
a glove on Timm Rosenbach.
Turk Edwards, 1931 Rose
Tide used the new-fangled forward pass to defeat the Cougs, but the marquee
battle in the trenches between ‘Bama All-American Fred Sington and WSC
All-American Edwards was won by the Turk.
Ace Clark, 1916 Rose Bowl
team captain joined Applequist and company in opening holes and wearing down the
Brown defense. The Los Angeles Times reported afterward the Crimson
Soldiers “tore the Brown line to shreds.”
Stallworth, 1988 Aloha Bowl
third-team All-American was Rosenbach’s favorite target, catching eight of his
tosses for 120 yards.
Riley, 2003 Rose Bowl, 2001 Sun Bowl
was in top form in Pasadena in January 2003, catching nine (8th best in Rose history) Jason
Gesser passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Two more catches for
crucial first downs were negated due to silly penalties. He also caught 6 balls
for 65 yards at El Paso in 2001.
WR: Chris Jackson, 1998 Rose Bowl
The most loquacious member of the Fab Five averaged a whopping 17.8 yards every time he and Ryan Leaf connected vs. No. 1 Michigan. He finished the day with 5 catches for 89 yards.
Bobo, 1992 Copper Bowl
big games, Bobo scored twice on Bledsoe passes that covered 87 and 48 yards. He
finished with seven grabs for 212 yard and even ran the ball twice, gaining
another 16 yards on two carries.
Drew Dunning 2001 Sun, 2003 Rose Bowl, 2003 Holiday
All-Pac-10 kicker was a perfect 4 for 4 on field goals - - including a 47 yarder
- - and an equally perfect 3 for 3 on point-afters against Purdue in the Sun. Fittingly, he
was named the Sun’s special team MVP. (Kicked two points-after in Pasadena and
two in San Diego.)
LaBomme, 1981 Holiday Bowl
Bomb was another bowl renaissance man, rushing for 79 yards on 14 carries and
booming 2 punts for 101 yards, but it is his 106 yards on 4 kickoff returns --
a 26-5 average -- that make him one to remember.
Acholonu, 2003 Holiday Bowl, 2003 Rose, 2001 Sun
Texas QBs all night in the 2003 Holiday Bowl, recording four tackles -- three of them sacks. One of the
sacks caused a fumble that was recovered by Cougar Will Derting in the
fourth quarter as the Longhorns drove for the tying score. His final sack ended
the game. (Also had four tackles in the Sun Bowl.)
Zimmerman, 1916 Rose Bowl
was said to have been the team’s best athlete and played a huge role is slowing
down the All-American Pollard.
Savage, 1988 Aloha
helped render the Houston running game non-existent, notching seven tackles as
WSU held the Texan Cougars to just 68 rushing yards. He also enjoyed a timely
sack of their QB.
Ledbetter, 1988 Aloha
Leaded One was just as hungry as teammate Savage, partaking in eight stops and
recording a sack of his own.
LB: Brandon Moore, 1998 Rose
was almost more than Michigan could handle, tallying 9 tackles (8 solo),
including one sack and four tackles for a loss.
LB: Steve Gleason, 1998 Rose
Gleason is forever remembered for the collision-heard-round the state with Cam Cleland in the Apple Cup victory that helped get the Cougs to Pasadena, but his work in this thrilling was exceptional: nine total tackles and every one of them solo. Like so much about this game, his work was overshadowed by the controversial conclusion to the game.
Smith, 2001 Sun Bowl
Smith punished Purdue all afternoon, leading Wazzu with 11 defensive
stops, including a QB sack. And, in his final play as a Coug, he batted down a
last chance pass by Purdue, thus sealing the victory for WSU.
Childs, 1994 Alamo Bowl, 1992 Copper Bowl
Ron gave the term “child’s play” new meaning in the 1994 Alamo Bowl. Against Baylor, he posted 10 tackles – eight solo – and two tackles for a loss. Two years earlier, against Utah in the Copper Bowl, he was in on nine
stops, eight of which were solo.
David, 2001 Sun (2003 Rose, 2003 Holiday)
sophomore seemed to read Purdue QB Kyle Orton’s mind, intercepting him
twice – returning the first 45 yards to start the scoring – and swatting down
several more pass attempts. (Made four tackles and broke-up two passes against
Oklahoma in '03; made three stops and returned a fumble for a touchdown in ’03
DB: Joe Taylor, 1981 Holiday Bowl
One of the most unsung DBs in WSU history, Taylor was all over Jack
Murphy Stadium, playing a part in 11 tackles, including one for an 8-yard loss,
and setting up WSU's first score with a blocked punt deep in BYU
Kyle Basler, 2003 Holiday Bowl (2003 Rose
good was Basler in the 2003 Holiday Bowl? So good that he was named the game’s defensive MVP and Texas coach Mack Brown declared his performance the difference maker. Four of
his seven punts were downed inside the five-yard line. He also averaged 46 yards
on six punts in the ’03 Rose Bowl.
Lone Star Dietz, 1916 Rose Bowl
won the only Big One in WSU history, over a heavily favored Brown and he won it convincingly. Oh, and
he did it wearing a silk hat, yellow gloves, and striped pants. ‘Nuff
D.D. ACHOLONU AND WALE DADA (32) CELEBRATE 2003 HOLIDAY BOWL WIN OVER TEXAS.