GERHART RUMBLES BY PELLUM
THE ROLES WERE reversed, but the names and bloodlines were the same. Cougar freshman quarterback J.T. Levenseller, his redshirt in flames, attempted and completed his first-ever collegiate pass on Saturday in the second quarter at rain-drenched Stanford. Fittingly, the recipient of that inaugural throw was junior tight end Tony Thompson.
Levenseller, taking just his second snap in a college game, rolled left and found Thompson for a 14-yard gain.
"Yeah, that was good," said head coach Paul Wulff. "It wasn't planned, but it was good to see."
Indeed. Levenseller and Thompson. Thompson and Levenseller. It was a record-setting crimson combination three decades ago, when Tony’s dad was the passer and J.T.’s dad Mike was the receiver. The tandem was so powerful that it turned into a lifelong friendship. J.T.’s initials, in fact, are an ode to Jack Thompson.
In another miserable outing in the worst season in Washington State history, a 58-0 setback to the Card, the Levenseller-to-Thompson footnote had to bring a smile, however fleeting, to the 40- and 50-something faithful.
The old-timers remember when Jack and Mike led a mid-70s renaissance. They shattered NCAA passing records, connecting with each other close to 100 times. They beat the Oregon schools in back-to-back nail biters in ’76. In the most stunning eight-day span in school history, they knocked off Nebraska and Michigan State on back to back road trips in 1977.
More than anything, Thompson and Levenseller fueled hope for a better tomorrow.
If only their progeny could do the same.
The Cougars lost Saturday for the eighth time in nine games this season. As in all their previous defeats, the Cougs were blown out. This time by a team that came in with a .500 record.
At least they didn’t surrender 60 again.
Field position, turnovers and botched execution doomed the Cougs, who helped rocket Toby “Four TDs” Gerhart and the Card to a 31-0 halftime lead. The third quarter wasn't even four minutes old when the Card added two more TDs. And just like, the game was a carbon copy of the humilating losses to USC, Oregon State, Oregon and Cal.
At 1-8, the Cougars are one loss next week against Arizona away from equaling the worst record by a WSU team since Jim Sweeney’s troops went 1-9 in 1969. The following year, they went 1-10. If this year’s team continues its tear-stained fall down the cellar stairs, 1-12 will make them not just the worst team in school history but, given the margins by which they're losing, but the worst in Pac-10 history as well.
God bless Portland State, lest the Cougs be looking at incompetence on a nationally historic scale – though an argument can be made there as well. The Cougars rank among the worst performers of all 119 Divison I-A teams in most major statistical categories on both sides of the ball.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I'm tired of seeing the same things happen when you work on them over and over and over," said head coach Paul Wulff.
NOTABLE: Levenseller went 2-for-4 passing for 20 yards on the day. Starter Kevin Lopina was 16-of-28 for 132 yards.
Brandon Gibson was the Cougs' leading receiver, grabbing 5 passes for 64 yards. On the ground, Logwone Mitz led the Cougs with 62 yards on 11 carries.