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November 26, 2011It wasn't Husky Stadium, but the Washington Huskies felt at home Saturday night at CenturyLink Field.
The Huskies, behind a mostly pro-Washington crowd, channeled the famous "12th Man" homefield advantage of the Seattle Seahawks' stadium en route to a 38-21 win over the Washington State Cougars in the Apple Cup.
WSU quarterback Marshall Lobbestael passed for 344 yards and three touchdowns, but the Husky defense had him on his back most of the night, recording a season-high seven sacks.
The victory snapped Washington's three-game losing streak as the Huskies finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Washington now waits to find out its bowl destination. An Alamo Bowl representative was on hand Saturday night.
"I think we've been trying to dedicate ourselves to it, but we haven't been able to get a game into the mode to where we can predict that the teams will be throwing the ball as much," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
"When you can get ahead and force some things, (make them) throw the ball down the field, you can create some pressure, and we were able to do that tonight."
And "get ahead" the Huskies did.
The Huskies forced Washington State (4-8, 2-7 Pac-12) to punt on its first drive when the defense and the coaches saw something they could take advantage of.
According to linebacker Thomas Tutogi, the play was called "Cougar Block" and it did just that. Tutogi went through unblocked and got his hand on punter Dan Wagner's kick.
The ball went straight up in the air and right back down to Jesse Callier, who walked it in for the game's first touchdown.
"Tremendous individual effort by Tutogi," said Sarkisian. "He's getting blocked (and) got the one hand up. We thought Jesse might have had the better chance of getting the block. He ultimately gets the scoop and score for the touchdown."
After that it became the Kasen Williams Show.
Quarterback Keith Price put the ball where only his receiver could get it and the true freshman from nearby Skyline High School made an outstanding 16-yard touchdown catch to put the Huskies up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter.
The Cougars temporarily put the show on hold as Lobbestael threw all over the Washington secondary for two straight touchdowns to tie the game.
With the momentum seemingly in Washington State's favor going into halftime, Williams put on his encore.
The freshman caught a pass from Price down the right flank and proceeded to hurdle cornerback Nolan Washington for an 18-yard gain. It was the type of play that you'll definitely see on ESPN's Top 10 this week and will probably go down in Apple Cup lore.
On the next play, Williams found himself wide open in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. The Huskies took the 21-14 lead going into halftime as Williams finished the half with five catches, 74 yards and two touchdowns.
"I just wanted to go out there and do what I needed to do for my team and do what we needed to do to be successful," said Williams. "I feel like we did that."
The halftime lead was all the Huskies needed as the defense came out inspired in the second half.
The Huskies held the Cougar attack to just 177 passing yards and, more impressively, negative rushing yards due to all the sacks.
Washington State tried everything it could, including a double pass late in the fourth quarter, but again, the Huskies defense came up big.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant read the trick play all the way and out-jumped star wide receiver Marquess Wilson to tip the ball to safety Sean Parker.
Parker came down with the interception and the game was all but over.
"Great play by Desmond Trufant," said Sarkisian. "How many times have we seen (Wilson) jump up and make that catch? For Desmond to make that play, and the effort of Sean Parker to get over there and get the interception was a big-time play."
db]Chris Polk[/db], who finished with an even 100 yards rushing, added two more touchdowns in the second half as the Huskies pulled away. One of those was via the air from Price.
It was Price's third touchdown pass of the game, breaking Cody Pickett's single-season record of 28 touchdown passes in 2002.
Price finished with 291 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while Polk had 136 total yards in addition to his scores.
The victory was Washington's third in a row over WSU in the longtime intra-state rivalry. The Huskies will make CenturyLink their home field the entire 2012 season while Husky Stadium undergoes a major renovation.