for this game

Washington State keeps rival Washington winless

Nov 23, 2008 - 7:00 AM PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- Someone had to win.

Nico Grasu drilled a 37-yard field goal in the second overtime Saturday to lift Washington State to a 16-13 victory over Washington in the annual "Apple Cup."

It was the Cougars' first win since defeating FCS foe Portland State in mid-September. The Huskies remained winless under lame-duck coach Tyrone Willingham, who will not return to Washington next season.

"This is the greatest feeling I've had so far playing college football," Cougar cornerback Romeo Pellum said. "Playing football period. Best feeling ever, swear to God."

The Pac-10 rivals both have suffered through miserable 2008 campaigns, but one of them would inevitably pick up its first win in conference play this weekend.

As it turned out, that was much easier said than done.

The Huskies (0-11, 0-8 Pac-10) took control early but also missed three field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime - including Ryan Perkins' 28-yard attempt that hooked wide left with less than four minutes remaining. That miss allowed the Cougars (2-10, 1-8) to tie the game as time ran out in regulation.

"When you feel like you've got a game won and you just need one play and you don't get it done, it's tough," Willingham said.

But the real killer came in the second overtime. With the game tied at 13-13, Perkins misfired on a 37-yard attempt - just moments after his 22-yard boot tied the game up in the first extra period.

On the ensuing possession, the Cougars played it safe with three straight running plays before leaving it up to Grasu, who drilled the game-winner right through the middle to help Washington State claim the Apple Cup for the second season in a row.

"Every kicker dreams about it," Grasu said. "I wish every drive ended with a kick. We've worked so hard and we have a tight bond, so when it comes down to crunch time ... we really trust each other."

Washington State - which had been shut out three times in its previous four games - appeared well on its way to suffering the same fate through the first 30 minutes as the Huskies jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

But freshman Logwone Mitz finally got the Cougars on the board with a 57-yard scoring dash late in the third quarter.

The biggest play of the afternoon, however, came courtesy of Washington State quarterback Kevin Lopina. The junior was having a miserable afternoon for the first three quarters, adding to an already abysmal season in which he has yet to throw a touchdown pass while tossing 11 interceptions.

But with the Cougars facing the prospect of being Washington's first victim of the season, Lopina came up big.

With the Huskies nursing a 10-7 lead with 34 left in regulation, Lopina delivered a perfect lob 48 yards down the right sideline to Jared Karstetter, who somehow got behind two Washington defenders to haul in just his fourth reception of the season.

"We just ran an out route with a go on the outside," Karstetter said. "Lopina pumped the out route and the corner bit just long enough where I could get behind him. I just went right up that seem it was a great throw and great protection."

Two plays later, Grasu's 28-yard kick forced overtime.

The 13 points Washington State allowed was something of a miracle considering the Cougars have given up 58 or more points on six occasions this year.

"I'm very proud of the players hanging in there and keep fighting to the end," Washington State coach Paul Wulff said. "They believed and fought to the end."

Washington has just one week left under Willingham, closing a difficult and injury-plagued campaign with next week's road meeting against California. The 54-year-old head coach was fired on October 27 in the middle of his fourth season at the school.

"Obviously if you're the head coach at this time, you take responsibility for what's going on," Willingham said. "But, it should also be noted, the day that I arrived, what the state of the program was. I take responsibility for where we're at, but there's also a process."