ROSE BOWL BOUND!

Jermaine Green runs for Roses

INSPIRED BY THE determination of their walking-wounded quarterback, Jason Gesser, the Washington State Cougars defeated the UCLA Bruins today, 48-27, earning their second Rose Bowl berth in five years.

Gesser, who severely sprained his ankle two weeks ago against Washington, connected on 15 of 24 passes for 247 yards, tossing first half touchdown strikes to Devard Darling and Jerome Riley, despite being obviously hampered by his braced ankle.

 

He was not named the starting quarterback until just moments before kickoff, although Cougar coach Mike Price admitted making the decision as early as Tuesday. The limping Gesser missed only one play until being replaced by Matt Kegel when the victory was clinched with around 6 minutes remaining in the game.

 

The victory earned the Cougars their fourth trip to the Rose Bowl, but this squad of Crimson Soldiers is determined to achieve something in the Granddaddy of Them All that hasn't been done since the Lone Star Dietz coached Cougs did it in 1916: Win.

 

"We've got one more to win," Gesser said. "Our goal was not just getting there, but winning the Rose Bowl."

 

The Cougs improved to 7-1 in conference play and 10-2 overall, marking the third time in six seasons WSU has won 10 games. A win in the Rose Bowl would give the Cougars their first 11 win season ever.

 

Price noted the difference between earning a Rose Bowl berth following the 1997 season - - 67 years having passed since their 1930 visit - - and capturing the roses today.

 

"The last Rose Bowl was for Laurie Niemi, Ty Paine, Jack Thompson, and all the great Cougars who didn't get there," Price said. "This one is for us."

 

The Cougs started things off quickly, with flanker Collin Henderson fielding a trademark lateral pass from Gesser and hitting Mike Bush perfectly in stride for a 66-yard scoring touchdown reception on the game's second play.

 

Henderson has completed 10 of 11career passes, striking gold 6 times.

 

But UCLA answered, first with defensive back Ben Emanuel intercepting a Gesser pass and taking it to pay dirt. Next, with their own version of the flanker option pass, this one covering 55-yards and giving the Bruins a 14-7, their final of the game.

 

The Cougs answered with 24 unanswered points, the last touchdown coming on a highlight film 80-yard run by Jeramine Green, himself feeling the effects of influenza, with 48-seconds remaining in the first half.

 

Seventh-ranked WSU finished with 541 yards on offense, 220 of those coming on the ground, the remaining 321 traveling by air.

 

The Cougar defense played stellar, aside from two touchdown miscues, sacking Bruin QB Drew Olson four times and holding their outstanding tailback, Tyler Ebell, to a mere 10 yards on 9 carries.

 

WSU defenders intercepted Olson twice, the first by Jason David – his sixth of the season despite missing the last 3 games - - and the second by Erik Coleman, who ran his pick in for the clinching touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. His interception came one play after Emanuel picked his second Gesser pass, this one in the end zone.

 

Special teams also played an important role in the Cougar victory. Marcus Trufant's 37-yard punt return set up Gesser's TD pass to Riley, and on the following kickoff, Kevin Sperry forced a fumble that was recovered by Curtis Nettles, setting up a Drew Dunning 30-yard field goal. Adam Braidwood, a phenom all season on special teams, blocked a Bruin punt that was recovered on the UCLA 15. Two plays later, John Tippins scored on a 1-yard plunge.

 

The Cougars had three notable self-inflicted wounds that kept the Bruins alive much longer than they should've been. Dunning under threw a wide-open Tippins in the end zone on a fake field goal and had a 3-point attempt blocked. His fellow kicker, Adam Holiday, botched an apparent onside kick attempt with 48 seconds left in the first half in what Price called a "severe miscommunication." The Bruins scored on the next play, pulling them within 10 at half.

 

Washington State will learn which opponent they will face in the Rose Bowl sometime tomorrow, but speculation points to Big-12 champion Oklahoma. The 8th ranked Sooners (11-2) captured their conference crown today with a 29-7 win over Colorado.

 

1

2

3

4

T

UCLA

14

7

6

0

27

Washington State

14

17

10

7

48

Scoring

First Quarter

WSU – Bush 66-yd pass from Henderson (Dunning kick)

UCLA – Emanuel 42-yd interception return (Fikse kick)

UCLA – White 55-yard pass from Dubravic (Fikse kick)

WSU – Darling 8-yard pass from Gesser (Dunning kick)

Second Quarter

WSU – Riley 22-yd pass from Gesser (Dunning kick)
WSU – Dunning 30-yard FG

WSU- Green 80-yard run (Dunning kick)

UCLA – Taylor 39-yard pass from Olson (Fikse kick)

Third Quarter

WSU – Tippins 1-yd run (Dunning kick)
UCLA – Seidman 27-yard pass from Olson (Kick failed)

WSU – Dunning 37-yard FG

Fourth Quarter

WSU – Coleman 30-yd interception return (Dunning kick)

 

Team Statistics

 

WSU

UCLA

First downs

20

18

Rushed-yards

41-220

27-53

Passing yards

321

254

Sacked-yards lost

1-6

4-22

Return yards

124

77

Passes

17-27-2

18-36-2

Punts

3-36.3

8-37.9

Fumbles-lost

0-0

2-1

Penalties-yards

6-53

4-50

Time of possession

32:41

27:19

 

Individual Statistics

Rushing

WSU
Green 13-112, Tippins 13-64, Smith 8-40, Ryan 3-9,  Kegel 1-4,  Riley 1-(-) 2,  Gesser 1-(-) 6.
UCLA
White 8-48, Bragg 2-10, Ebell 9-10, Olson 8-(-) 15.

Passing

WSU
Gesser 15-24-247- 2, Henderson 1-1-66- 0,  Kegel 1-1-8- 0,  Dunning 0-1-0- 0.
UCLA
Olson 13-27-163- 2, Dubravac 1-1-55- 0, Moore 4-8-36- 0.

Receiving

WSU
Bush 2-71, Riley 5-70, Darling 3-68, Bienemann 2-51, Moore 1-43, Green 2-13,  Smith 1-10, Tippins 1-(-) 5.
UCLA

Taylor 4-86, Seidman 4-68, White 2-58, Bragg 2-22, Lewis 1-16, Carter 1-2, Ebell 4-2.

Attendance

56,335

 

 

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