The 111th meeting between Washington and Washington State brought a blizzard and a familiar result of late: another dominant Husky performance, this time led by senior Myles Gaskin. The Lynnwood native piled up 170 yards and three touchdowns in the rivalry game to give UW its 73rd win vs. WSU.
PULLMAN — Some dropped to the turf and made snow angels. Some scooped up a handful of the soft stuff and started a snowball fight. Some stopped for selfies in the crimson end zone.
The Huskies played their favorite game of the year Friday evening, and then they lingered on the Martin Stadium field, in a snowstorm, and had more fun.
Myles Gaskin, Jake Browning and the Huskies’ senior class finished their careers with a perfect ledger against rival Washington State, leading the No. 16 Huskies to another Pac-12 North title and keeping alive their Rose Bowl hopes with a 28-15 victory over the No. 7 Cougars in the 111th Apple Cup.
“This feels amazing, knowing they can’t mess with us,” UW senior safety JoJo McIntosh said amid the postgame celebration. “We run this state. This is our house. We run Washington.”
The Huskies (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) will play for their second conference championship in three years when they meet South division champ Utah next Friday in Santa Clara, Calif. The winner advances to the Rose Bowl.
Chris Petersen improved to 5-0 head-to-head in the coaching matchup against Mike Leach, and the Huskies won their sixth consecutive Apple Cup by again shutting down the nation’s most prolific passing attack.
The Huskies have largely had the same defensive script against WSU’s Air Raid offense.
“They do the same thing year in and year out. This is five years in a row now,” UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. “So it makes it really easy to game-plan when an offense does the same thing every year. Obviously, now with the (snow) conditions, and they can only do one thing — that handcuffs you a little bit. So it was definitely to our advantage. And we took advantage of it.”
Lake said he was surprised Leach hasn’t made any adjustments to WSU’s offensive plan coming into the Apple Cup.
“But knowing what I read about the head football coach here, he does things a little bit different way,” Lake said. “So hopefully he remains here for a long time. That would be awesome.”
Gaskin’s 80-yard touchdown run with 12:30 left in the game gave the Huskies some much-needed breathing room and moved him over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fourth time in his career — the first Pac-12 player to ever achieve that feat.
The senior from Lynnwood rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, and he finished his career with 550 yards and 10 touchdowns in four Apple Cups.
“Myles, what do you say? That guy can do it all,” Petersen said. “He is the ultimate competitor. When you need something good to happen he is the guy that is going to get it done.”
The Cougars (10-2, 7-2) came into the game with a chance to win their first Pac-12 North title and bolster their College Football Playoff resume. The Huskies dashed those hopes while also putting a major dent in Gardner Minshew’s Heisman Trophy bid.
A steady snowfall began in the second quarter and continued throughout the rest of the night, making the Martin Stadium turf look much like an ice-skating rink.
The conditions didn’t do WSU’s Air Raid attack any favors, but, then, the Huskies have become conditioned to bullying Leach’s offense.
The Huskies often rushed just three defenders and dropped eight into coverage, limiting Minshew to a lot of checkdowns and underneath passes for short gains. The Cougars’ 15 points and 237 yards of total offense were both season lows. Their longest play: 22 yards.
Minshew, who entered the game leading the nation in passing and threw for a school-record seven touchdown passes in the Cougars’ 69-28 victory over Arizona last week, was intercepted twice, lost one fumble and was held to 152 yards passing (hitting 26 of 35 attempts) for a quarterback efficiency rating of 99.3, both season lows. He didn’t have a touchdown pass and the Huskies also sacked him twice.
But UW’s three turnovers — and poor special teams — helped the Cougars stay close.
Gaskin spun away from a would-be tackle for a 5-yard touchdown run, giving the Huskies a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Cougars’ Travell Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards, setting up the Cougars’ first scoring drive. WSU covered 49 yards on 11 plays, with James Williams taking a delayed handoff and running 11 yards for a touchdown. That got the Cougars to 14-7 down with 33 seconds left in the half.
Max Richmond lost a fumble on the Huskies’ kickoff return, giving Minshew a chance to tie from the UW 24-yard line with 28 seconds left. But UW’s Byron Murphy helped the Huskies escape when he intercepted a Minshew pass in the right corner of the end zone.
The Huskies extended their lead to open the third quarter when receiver Aaron Fuller threw a double-pass touchdown to sophomore tight end Hunter Bryant, his first touchdown catch of the season. That came one play after Bryant’s 59-yard reception from Browning on third-and-16 from the UW 29.
But UW’s extra-point try was blocked and WSU’s Hunter Dale returned it some 90 yards to give the Cougars two points, making the score 20-9.
Browning later lost a fumble that the Cougars recovered at the UW 23. Five plays later, Williams dived in on a 1-yard touchdown run to get WSU to 20-15 with 4:44 left in the third.
The Cougars wouldn’t score again, and the Huskies were able to kill the final 8:47 off the clock with a 14-play, 76-yard drive, all run plays.
In the midst of the all the snow angels and snowball fights, there was a brief presentation on a makeshift stage in the east end zone. Petersen was handed the Governor’s Trophy and raised it aloft.
The Huskies then played tribute to the UW Marching Band, which was not in attendance after one of the band’s buses rolled on its side Thursday during the trip east.
“We’ve been thinking about ’em. We played this game for those guys,” Petersen said. “I will tell you, we sang the fight song at the end there for the band, with no music. And I’ve never heard our guys sing louder and better since I’ve been here. And I mean that sincerely.”