Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Huskies win Apple Cup 38-21 for third straight year!
For the third straight season the Washington Huskies(7-5,5-4) defeated their cross state rivals the Washington State Cougars(4-8,2-6) in the 104th meeting of the Apple Cup. The Huskies who are headed towards another bowl game for the second straight season while the Cougars are missing a bowl game for the eighth straight season. The Huskies were led by three touchdown passes by Keith Price who returned from injury. Price also passed Cody Pickett to become the all-time single season touchdown leader in Huskies history. The Huskies also saw two true freshman made their apple cup debuts pretty special especially Kasen Williams who caught two of Price's three touchdown passes. The Huskies under Steve Sarkisian have yet to trail in a single Apple Cup in three years improve to 3-0 in the Sarkisian era in this game.
The next two series saw two huge swings in momentum. First for the Cougars their offense finally got going but Ricky Galvin fumbled on the Huskies 23 yard line. Then with a chance to put the Cougars away the Huskies went on a nice eight play drive which started off with Price completing his first three passes for 45 yards down to the Cougars 31 then Polk ran for 11 more to the Cougars 20 yard line. That is when the Huskies offense stalled key by a huge third down drop by Austin Seferian-Jenkins which was especially painful after Erik Folk missed a 37 yard field goal as the Huskies still only remained up 14-0.
With the momentum now wearing Crimson the Cougars finally took advantage going on a 13 play, 80 yard drive which saw them convert three separate third downs. Facing a third and eight from their own 22 Lobbestael hit Marques Wilson for a gain of 12 yards. Later in the drive from the Huskies 31 facing a third and nine Lobbestael threw a designed screen to Galvin for a gain of 19 yards to offset the Huskies pass rush down to the 12 yard line. Facing a third and four from the six yard line to avoid the pressure Lobbestael ran it in for the touchdown but the Cougars were called for a holding taking the score off the board. Facing a third and 14 from the 16 Lobbestael fired one in there to Jarred Karstetter for the 16 yard touchdown to pull the game within 14-7.
The Cougars feeding off that momentum then three and outed the Huskies powerful offense getting the ball back. From their own 34 yard line the Cougars actually started to run the ball some. Carl Winston had back to back runs of four yards setting up a third and two which Galvin ran for three yards to their own 45 yard line. After a six yard pass by Lobbestael he then ran for six yards to the Huskies 43 yard line. Lobbestael then would have back to back completions for 27 yards to the Huskies 16 yard line. Lobbestael like he did the previous series would hit Wilson for a 16 yard touchdown to tie up the game at 14-14 with just a little over two minutes left in the half.
For the winners the Huskies were led by Keith Price who was 21-29(72.4%) for 291 yards(10.0 YPA) with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As usual Price spread the ball around as his leading receiver was freshman Kasen Williams who had five receptions for 74 yards with two touchdowns. Another true freshman played well in Austin Seferian-Jenkins who had four receptions for 62 yards. Senior Jermaine Kearse had five receptions for 62 yards. Kevin Smith had two for 39 yards while Polk had two for 36 yards with a touchdown. Speaking of Polk he carried the ball 22 times for 100 yards(4.5 YPC) and a rushing touchdown. Jesse Callier who scored that touchdown on the blocked punt also had four carries for 44 yards(11.0 YPC) while catching a pass. The Huskies defense recorded a season high seven sacks led by Ta'amu and Josh Shirley. The Huskies held the Cougars to just 38 yards rushing on 29 attempts.
All in all, this was a tale of two programs going in opposite direction. For the second straight apple cup Cougar fans don't know if this was Wulff's last game as Cougars head coach. For the Huskies for the second straight apple cup they are playing in another game after this. Chris Polk in three career apple cups never lost to the Cougars while rushing for over 100 yards with a touchdown in each game. The Huskies also showed with Price, Williams and Seferian-Jenkins all who have eligibility for the next two seasons after this year that the Huskies should continue to dominate this rivalry for a while. This was a good win for the Huskies as they needed some momentum heading into their bowl game(most likely the Alamo Bowl) like they did last year. For Sarkisian beating your rivals is a good way to maintain friends at Montlake. For these seniors who as freshman lost to the Cougars to go 0-12 these past three years must have felt great.
For the year Price who heading into the season was the big question mark had a fantastic season. Price completed 67.4%(school record is 65%) of his passes this season for 2,625(8.1 YPA) yards on the season. He threw for 29 touchdowns(new school record) to only 11 interceptions on the year. He has a QB rating of 107.5 for the season and this year had a QB rating over 100 in six of his 11 starts. He only had a QB rating under 80 just twice this season. Price who has had an incredible season proved the future at Montlake is bright as he is just a sophomore.
For the season Polk ran for 1,341 yards(5.1 YPC) with 11 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 324 yards with four touchdowns. All three are career highs for Polk as he proved he is a complete running back who can pound you but beat you through the passing game. There is a good chance Polk leaves after this year as he has no reason to come back other than breaking Napoleon Kaufman's career rushing record(he needs 200 in the bowl game to beat him). Polk has been a terrific Husky and will be on the short list of Husky great running backs.
As for Sarkisian he is back over .500 once again as he is 19-18 as head coach for the Huskies. He took over a program that went 0-12 and has led the Huskies to a bowl game in two of his three seasons. The Huskies lost Jake Locker to the top 10 of the NFL draft yet the offense including the quarterback play improved. Nobody has ever questioned Sarkisian's offense but going forward his defense needs to play more like they did in the Apple Cup. Sarkisian has never trailed in three career wins over the Cougars while Wulff has never had a lead against the Huskies in regulation in four career apple cup games.
In conclusion, the Huskies have done something the Cougars have never done which is win three straight apple cup games. The Huskies improved their series lead to 67-31-6 over the Cougars which has been as one sided as a rivalry can possibly be. The Huskies had plenty of guys step up who won't be on next years roster while also having several younger guys contribute as well. Now the goal for the Huskies is to win back to back bowl games for the first time since winning the Rose Bowl back to back years in the 1990 and 1991 seasons. The Huskies haven't won eight games in a season since 2001 so there is still plenty of goals to be abtained in this next bowl game. For the Cougars they completed the worst four year stretch in conference history as Wulff saw his team lose 40 games(average of 10 a season). The Cougars seniors like seniors prior to them will never know what a bowl game feels like. For the Huskies seniors this win has to feel great to be a part of 0-12 then to see the program rebuild the way it has is pretty special. The Huskies sitll have plenty of goals left on their season but at least they are back to beating the Cougars on a regular basis.