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Fab-five foil thee-peat, bowl

Marlon Wood, Chris Stevens, Cody Ellis, Marcel Reece, and Louis Rankin, each of whom made a big play on the game, led Washington to a 35-32 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup, the game played at Pullman, Washington. The victory ended the Cougars' hopes to win three-consecutive Apple Cups and jeopardized their chance to go to a bowl game.

Last week after its game with Stanford, someone said that without playmakers, the Huskies might need some prayer-makers, as in Hail Mary, to win the Apple Cup.

Providing both playmakers and prayer-makers, Washington's fab-five, along with UW's defense, answered Coach Tyrone Willingham's prayers, snapping the Huskies' six-game losing streak. Although Washington (5-7, 3-6 Pac-10) is not bowl eligible, its win jeopardized Washington State's (6-6, 4-5) chance to appear in a bowl game -- the marring of a rival's season being a generic requirement of the Apple Cup. With this loss, the Cougars have lost three straight games, to end their season most likely.

The playmakers:

-- After the Cougars took a 7-point lead, Cody Ellis made a juggling catch of  a Carl Bonnell pass, scooping the ball up just a foot or so from the ground, and raced 64 yards for a touchdown, knotting the score in the second quarter at 7-7.

-- After Eric Frampton's 43-yard interception return in the second quarter that gave the Cougars a 14-7 lead, Marlon Wood returned the kickoff 87 yards to the Cougar 13. Two plays later Louis Rankin ran the ball in from 8 yards out and the score was tied at the half, 14-14.

-- In the third quarter, Marcel Reece hauled in a pass from Bonnell and raced 69 yards down the right sideline to give the Dawgs a 21-14 lead.

-- After a Cougar field goal and with just 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Chris Stevens blocked a Cougar punt and recovered it 22 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 28-17, UW.

-- With the Huskies clinging to a 28-25 lead, Louis Rankin decided to take an east-west route on a play designed to go up the middle and galloped 77 yards for a touchdown, to put the Huskies' last apple in the bushel, 35-25. 

Note that Washington hasn't had a blocked punt for a touchdown since the 1991 Rose Bowl, back then it being a special delivery of Dana Hall.

Ellis' spectacular catch has got to make someone a believer. "The ball was thrown a little behind me and I tried to get my hands on it, and unfortunately I didn't catch it at first," Ellis told the Seattle Times. "It got knocked up and I got it with one hand and then turned around and all I saw was green. It was just instinct."

The Good:

-- Hail to the playmakers: Wood, Rankin, Ellis, Stevens and Reece.

-- Carl Bonnell's pass efficiency rating: 145.8

-- Ceasar Rayford's sack on Brink on fourth down with 59 seconds left, ending a Cougar drive.

-- As it did against Stanford, the defense played a credible game.

-- For most of the season, the coaching staff has been on Rankin's case, telling him to head north and south instead of east and west. Hence, Rankin's decision to take an outside route on his 77-yard touchdown run.

-- Sean Douglas' punting. Michael Braunstein's kickoffs and PATs.

The Bad

I hate to knock a win, since I am as jubilant about it as anyone. The point of the following critique is that Coach Willingham needs to leave his golf clubs in the bag and hit the recruiting trial, to show us that he's a better closer than Jack Lemmon was in Glengarry Glen Ross. You know, "Coffee is for closers." On second thought, the coach probably drinks decaf.

Willingham needs to parlay his big win into success in the recruiting wars, not that he doesn't know that or need my advice. I'm venting some frustration over what happened on the season, especially over those overtime losses and the big one that got away at 'SC. Also, the following puts the Stanford game in perspective, illustrating that it wasn't a one-time aberration due to loss of emotion and enthusiasm. In fact, the two games, against the Cougars and Cardinal, from an offensive standpoint, were quite similar minus the playmaking miracles.

Miracles? It's been 14 years since UW blocked a punt for a touchdown. Ellis's catch that went for a touchdown was out of this world. After catching a short pass, Reece's touchdown run was faster than the speed of light, considering Marcel's overall mass. And Rankin defied gravity going east and west on a play designed to go up the gut. Minus just one of the singularities, the Dawgs lose and we'd be talking Stanford again. 

Anyway, here goes (The Bad):

-- Without the big plays by Ellis, Reece and Rankin, Washington's offense totaled 170 yards on the game, similar to its performance against Stanford the week before in a 20-3 loss that accounted for 161 yards in total offense.

-- The interception return for a touchdown on a pass thrown by Bonnell.

-- Sans Rankin's 77 yard run, the Huskies totaled 32 yards rushing on the game. Against Stanford, UW posted 39 yards rushing.

-- Without the five big plays that either scored a touchdown or led to one, the offense looked very much like it did against Stanford, that is, mostly inept.

For example Kenny James rushed for 20 yards on 9 carries. Without his long run, Rankin rushed 16 times for 41 yards.

Without Ellis and Reece's touchdown grabs, Bonnell's pass efficiency drops from 145.8 to 78.37. Against Stanford, Bonnell's rating was 51.18. On his play that scored a touchdown, Ellis caught a poorly thrown pass in spectacular fashion. On his touchdown play, Reece caught a short pass on a crossing route, showing blazing speed on the run after catch. In other words, Bonnell's pass efficiency (145.8) might have been some sort of an artifact, but then again, UW did win the game and Bonnell did throw the two touchdown passes. Statistics don't throw passes, they are just for making comparisons.

-- Ignoring the long scoring plays, the longest sustained drive of the game netted two first downs and carried from the Washington 39-yard line to the Cougar 20. After that, UW went backwards and had to punt from the Cougar 38. Washington had six other drives resulting in punts, with the furthest drive carrying to the Cougar 48.


Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Huskies 0 14 14 7 35
Cougars 0 14 3 15 32


Time Team How Player (s) Score
2nd qtr
8:41 WSU TD Dwight Tardy, 14 yard run. Romeen Abdollmohammadi kick. WSU, 7-0
6:42 UW TD Cody Ellis 64-yard pass from Carl Bonnell; Michael Braunstein kick T, 7-7
3:24 WSU TD Eric Frampton 43-yard interception return. Abdollmohammadi kick. WSU, 14-7
2:19 UW TD Rankin 8-yard run; Braunstein kick. T, 14-14
3rd qtr
13:41 UW TD Marcel Reece 69-yard pass from Bonnell; Braunstein kick. UW, 21-14
10:15 WSU FG Abdollmohammadi 32-yard field goal. UW, 21-17
0:10 UW TD Chris Stevens 22-yard blocked punt return; Braunstein kick. UW, 28-17
4th qtr
11:17 WSU TD Cody Boyd 15-yard pass from Alex Brink; Brandon Gibson 2-point play on a pass from Brink. UW, 28-25
10:43 UW TD Rankin 77-yard run; Braunstein kick. UW, 35-25
6:00 WSU TD Gibson 33-yard pass from Brink. Abdollmohammadi kick. UW, 35-32


Statistic UW WSU
Total First Downs 14 26
  Rushing 4 7
  Passing 10 18
  Penalty 0 1
Total Net Yards 380 430
Net Yards Passing 271 328
Net Yards Rushing 109 102
Completions-att-int 14-27-2 32-54-0
Punts, yards, average 7-307, 43.9 7-233, 33.3
Return Yardage 171 137
  Punts Yards 3-26 0-0
  Kickoff Yards 6-145 5-80
 Interceptions returns Yds 0-0 2-57
Penalties Yards 6-45 2-10
Fumbles: number/lost 1-0 1-1
Time of Possession  28:14 31:46


UW rushing Att Yds Long TD  
Louis Rankin 17 118 77 2  
Kenny James 9 20 8 0  
Carl Bonnell 3 -19 0 0  
WSU rushing          
Dwight Tardy 19 105 24 1  
Derrell Hutsona 2 8 13 0  
Jed Collins 1 1 1 0  
Alex Brink 9 -12 5 0  
UW passing Att Cmp Yds Tds Int
Carl Bonnell 27 14 271 2 2
WSU passing          
Alex Brink 54 32 328 2 0
UW receiving No Yards Long Tds  
Marcel Reece 3 107 69 1  
Cody Ellis 3 72 64 1  
Sonny Shackelford 3 30 17 0  
Michael Gottlieb 2 42 27 0  
Johnie Kirton 1 10 10 0  
Anthony Russo 1 8 8 0  
Mark Palaita 1 2 2 0  
WSU receiving          
Brandon Gibson 8 129 33 1  
Cody Boyd 7 87 32 1  
Charles Dillon 7 40 10 0  
Michael Bumpus 5 43 13 0  
Dwight Tardy 3 18 14 0  
Jed Collins 2 11 6 0  
Punting UW No Yards Long Avg  
Sean Douglas 7 307 64 43.9  
Punting WSU          
Darryl Blunt 6 233 56 38.8  
Attendance: 35,117          

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