NCAA Football

Washington wins sixth straight Apple Cup, Pac-12 North title

The No. 16 Washington Huskies (9-3, 7-2) are heading to Santa Clara after their 28 – 15 victory over the No. 7 Washington State Cougars (10-2, 7-2) in Pullman, Wash. on Black Friday. It was a physical performance that saw the Huskies earn their sixth straight victory over the Cougars in the series — matching a series high winning streak.

A promising Cougar drive came effectively came to an end when the Huskies reached Minshew for their second sack of the game with around nine and a half minutes left in the game. Williams had a couple of big runs, but they weren’t enough to move his offense all the way down into end zone. Mike Leach pretty much waved the white flag by punting with nine minutes left in the game, trailing by 13.

Relying on Salvon Ahmed, the Huskies ground up the final seven minutes of the game to secure their sixth straight win in the Apple Cup.

It became clear in the second half that Jimmy Lake and the Huskies defense decided to bring pressure to try to move Minshew off of his spot; as a blitz collapsed teh pocket and he made a very poor decision in throwing the ball behind Martin and and it was nearly picked(initially ruled an interception, overturned on replay review). On fourth down, in their territory, Leach was forced to punt the ball.

Three plays later, Gaskin broke off an 80-yard touchdown run to put the Huskies up two scores on a beautifully run counter. Gaskin then punched in a two point conversion to make it 28-15, UW with 12:30 left in the fourth quarter.

After the Cougar touchdown, UW’s offense was unable to get its footing in the snow against a suddenly aggressive Cougar defense. The Huskies biggest play was a eight-yard pass, but it still lead to their first punt of the game.

Unfortunately, Minshew’s second pick of the game came two plays after WSU got the ball back. The senior locked onto Patmon and Burr-Kirven read the play perfectly, picking off the pass without giving the Cougar receiver a chance to make a play on it.

Fortunately for the ‘stache, the Cougar defense held strong against the Gaskin offense and forced a rugby punt.

Poor tackling allowed the Huskies to break open a huge play on a screenplay to Andre Baccelia on second down, getting Washington into Cougar territory. After a penalty and a couple of short runs, Browning fumbled the ball on third and fifteen in the face of a blitz that he was unable to handle.

A beautiful crossing route to Winston Jr. gave the Cougars a first down inside the 15. Then a couple of James Williams runs gave them a first down at the one yard line; he punched it in on the very next play to get WSU within five before the point after touchdown. The two point try was caught out-of-bounds.

The opening kick off to start the second half was a touchback, giving Washington the ball at the 25. UW would pick up 57-yards on a pass that was completed because Pueller bit on Browning’s scramble instead of sitting back. On the very next play, UW broke out a wide receiver pass to extend its lead to 20-7. But the Huskies failed to kick the PAT (bounced off the center’s helmet) and Hunter Dale ran it allllll the way back to get the Cougs two-points out of that disastrous defensive series.

Now trailing by eleven points, the Cougs were in need to score territory. After picking up a first down on three plays, Minshew was “sacked” (intentional grounding) for the tenth time of the season to give Wazzu a third and 16. Borghi was unable to get the first down on a swing pass, and Mike Leach sent out his punt team.

Washington State had to burn its final time out of the half after the first down play only gained two yards. During the second down play, protection broke down against the three-man rush for the first time in the game and Minshew was forced to throw the ball at Borghi’s feet as he was hit. The Huskies picked off the very next pass from when it appeared that the Cougar receiver slipped in the end zone.

The Huskies kneeled it out to go into halftime with a seven-point lead after controlling the majority of that first half.

After a 47-yard kickoff return, the Cougar offense picked up a first down by relying on Williams and Borghi; then hitting Jackson on a quick pass to get them in the Husky. But a well called blitz led to a second and long play. On third and six (after an eight yard Minshew scramble) the Cougs tried to catch UW napping on a counter; the ensuing fourth down play was picked up after the offensive line gave their quarterback all day until a receiver got himself open. With time rapidly winding down the Cougars punched it with a running play to Williams that gave the Cougs life towards the end of the first half.

UW promptly fumbled the ball on the ensuing kick off and Patton recovered it for the Cougs.

Washington State’s offense able to effectively drive down to field, despite the driving snow, including a couple of nice runs by the law firm of Borghi and Williams. In fact, the Cougars ran the ball twice on third and fourth down at midfield to keep the drive going. Unfortunately the drive stalled out on the next four plays and WSU was forced to punt the ball.

Browning hit Bryant on the very first play from scrimmage on blown coverage by Skyler Thompson, giving the UW another set of downs. This drive showed more promise for Speed D because it was able to generate more pressure on the senior quarterback, including flushing him from the pocket. But a couple of missed holding calls on a dump off passes helped Ahmed pick up a huge first down (nearly a touchdown but he stepped out-of-bounds). Another Browning scramble turned second and long into third and one…which was promptly turned into a first down. Gaskins survived several hits (not tackles) and punched it into the endzone to extend Washington’s lead.

Wazzu’s second drive of the game started off better with Minshew picking up a first down with his legs, then hitting Borghi in the flat a couple plays later for another one. Williams also got in on the fun with a big gain on second down to get Washington State near the red zone. The Cougs further moved into the red zone when Sweet made a great catch – that was reviewed – on the ensuing first down. The Mississippi ‘stache would scramble on third and seven (after an illegal substitution penalty), but came up just short on his slide; the snap was fumbled on fourth and one, which Washington recovered.

On its ensuing drive after the fumble, UW picked up some decent yardage on first down, then the first on an option play where the senior quarterback kept the ball. A beautifully executed play action pass but the Huskies in the red zone on the very next play after the option keeper. Gaskin punched it into the endzone a few plays later to give Washington a 7-0 lead.

Minshew’s first pass of the game was nearly intercepted, but Winston broke it up. The second play was a well executed five yard run to Williams; but the quarterback missed a good run box on the third down play and was nearly picked again.

On the ensuing drive Washington started off with a five-yard run of its own and then a nine-yard pass that picked up the game’s first down. Despite the successful pass, UW relied on its workhorse Gaskin to drive down the field on the Cougars’ undersized front seven.  The senior tailback earned 19-yards on his first three carries of the game as the defense — including picking-up a third and eight in plus territory. Browning threw an interception to Skyler Thompson in the red zone to put an end to this drive.