Washington State rallied for a 31-28 overtime victory over Washington in the Apple Cup.
PULLMAN — Andrew Furney had lots of reasons to laugh after kicking a 27-yard field goal in overtime to lift Washington State to an improbable 31-28 victory over Washington in the Apple Cup on Friday.
One of them was recalling a pregame conversation he had with his father.
“We were talking about the game and how I hadn’t had a game-winner yet in my career and it’s the Apple Cup,” said the junior. “Why not today?”
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Well, maybe because four WSU turnovers gave Washington a 28-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. Three of the UW touchdown drives came on drives of just 20, 16 and 7 yards — and had a Cougars team that had lost eight in a row seemingly dead in the water.
Or maybe because all UW had to do was convert a 35-yard field goal of its own on the last play of regulation — the kind of thing the Huskies had done routinely the past few years in winning 11 consecutive games decided by fewer than 10 points.
But then, even if this Apple Cup had lacked the pregame buildup of many of its predecessors, it’s still the Apple Cup, a game that eight times since 2002 had a final margin of eight points or less.
So maybe, as Furney said, it should have been expected.
“With everything how it unfolded, how it came together, it was meant to be,” Furney said.
And when Furney’s kick sailed through, it allowed the Cougars to go into the offseason on a high note despite a 3-9 record in what up until now had been an unexpectedly rocky first season in Pullman for coach Mike Leach.
“This was a big (victory),” Leach said. “I think a lot of folks had counted us out, and our team rose up. We had some tough moments, but our team fought through it.”
The Huskies, meanwhile, were left to wonder how the game got away. There were a few obvious places to point, such as 18 penalties for 129 yards — the number of penalties tying a school record — and a balky offense that gained just 269 yards.
“I’ll be honest with you, you have a loss like this in a game like this in a rivalry game, this one will sting,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “This one will hurt for probably more than a day, quite honestly.”
The Huskies gained just 96 yards on 20 plays in the first half against a WSU team that had been beaten 46-7 last week by Arizona State.
But UW trailed just 10-7 thanks to a Keith Price pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins that followed a Justin Glenn interception of Jeff Tuel that gave the Huskies the ball at the WSU 20.
WSU had scored on drives of 75 and 81 yards to take the lead.
Then came a third quarter that pretty much typified each team’s season. Washington came alive, driving 89 yards the first time it had the ball to take the lead, then scored two more touchdowns on short drives following turnovers.
At that point, few would have been blamed for assuming UW would go on to a fifth consecutive victory and WSU a ninth defeat in a row.
“It’s the last game,” Tuel said. “You’re not going to hang your head and say it’s over. We’ve got a ballgame to win, so let’s just push on.”
That they did, driving 75 yards to cut the lead to 28-17 early in the fourth quarter, a march sparked by three UW penalties.
WSU then forced a Price fumble and drove 47 yards for a touchdown — keyed by Tuel’s escape of a sack and 29-yard completion to Isiah Myers — to cut the lead to 28-25 with 7:26 left. And then things got interesting.
Another penalty helped UW go three-and-out, and WSU drove to the Husky 28, where Leach debated going for it on fourth-and-one before sending in Furney to kick a 45-yarder to tie the game with 1:59 left.
The Huskies, though, appeared as if they might rip the hearts out of the revived Cougars as Price completed three passes to move the ball to the WSU 15. A penalty for illegal motion that UW thought was offsides against WSU moved the ball back to the 20. Still, UW seemed ready to win it one play later when Travis Coons lined up for a 35-yard field goal with five seconds left. But the kick missed wide right.
“I don’t know if it was the best snap we’ve had,” Sarkisian said. “But (holder) Cody (Bruns) was able to get it down. But it didn’t look like he struck it very well.”
Washington got the ball first to start overtime and Price dropped back. But under heavy pressure and unable to get it downfield, he tried to flip it to running back Bishop Sankey. Instead, it went straight into the hands of defensive lineman Kalafitoni Pole, who almost won the game right there before Bruns dragged him down at the 5-yard line.
No matter, the Cougars got one first down, then Leach sent Furney out to win it on a first down from the 9.
“It was actually one of those things where I knew it was good the minute I hit it,” said Furney, a product of Burlington who said he grew up a UW fan.
As the crowd descended on the field, Furney was lifted onto shoulders.
“That’s one of those lifetime moments for a kicker to experience,” he said. “I’ll cherish it.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @bcondotta