Langley boots Cougars to victory
Seattle Times staff reporter
The much-criticized Washington State kicker nicknamed "Peanut" booted his first winning field goal Saturday with 9 seconds remaining.
Loren Langley, who is 5 feet 8 and 151 pounds, drilled a 17-yarder to lift the Cougars to a 17-15 victory over Baylor before 41,358 at Qwest Field.
"I wasn't really nervous when I went out there," said Langley, whose shaky performance in warmups had prompted Cougars coaches not to have him attempt a 42-yard field goal in the first half.
Langley's résumé includes missing a 28-yard field goal in last year's Apple Cup against Washington. He entered Saturday's game 0 of 2 this season and was 14 of 22 last year.
Langley said one thing that relaxed him was remembering that Seahawks kicker Josh Brown had two field goals blocked last week but then made three, including the winner as time expired.
"Josh Brown gave me some inspiration," Langley said.
Quarterback Alex Brink drove the Cougars 81 yards on 14 plays in a drive that took 5 minutes, 24 seconds to set up the winning kick. Sophomore receiver Brandon Gibson caught third-down passes of 10 and 22 yards on the drive, and a 25-yard pass to Michael Bumpus put the Cougars at the Baylor 14.
"The most impressive thing about this win is we didn't panic," said senior guard Sean O'Connor. "Third-and-long and we're down and we need to get a first down. Everyone was calm and composed in the huddle. That was really impressive."
The long drive was necessary after Baylor took a stunning 15-14 lead with 5:25 to play when Anthony Arline ran back a Bumpus fumble after the Washington State receiver took a ferocious hit from linebacker Nick Moore. Baylor went for a two-point conversion with a pass from quarterback Shawn Bell intended for Dominique Zeigler, but WSU safety Eric Frampton broke it up.
The game was a heart-ripper for Baylor and one reason was that the Bears believe that they recovered DeMaundray Woolridge's fumble at the 2-yard line three plays before the winning field goal.
"We came up with it," said Baylor cornerback C.J. Wilson. "I guess they said he was down."
The sloppy win was particularly satisfying for the Cougars, whose mantra in the offseason was "Finish!" Last season, the Cougars blew fourth-quarter leads in three games and lost five games by four or fewer points.
"We finally got that monkey off our back," said defensive end Mkristo Bruce, who had four tackles, including a sack, and his first career interception.
Cougars coach Bill Doba said: "We finally finished. We've been preaching all fall and all spring: Finish. We made some plays when we had to."
Brink said he liked the challenge of the final drive.
"It was a big drive and, honestly, it was something I was looking forward to," the junior quarterback said. "I've taken heat for not being able to win games late. To have the opportunity to do it against a good ballclub was something I was looking forward to."
Brink was booed in the first half and many fans probably wanted him to stay on the bench after Gary Rogers threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jason Hill in the second quarter to cut Baylor's lead to 9-7. Rogers stayed in the game after the TD drive but was intercepted, and Brink went back in the game.
Brink was on the receiving end of a go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter. He caught a 4-yard pass from running back Dwight Tardy to put the Cougars up 14-9 midway through the quarter.
Baylor opened scoring in the first quarter on a safety, as Tony Thompson's punt snap went over the head of Darryl Blunt and into the end zone. Blunt kicked it out of the back of the end zone to prevent a touchdown.
The Bears made it 9-0 midway through the first quarter on a 12-yard pass from Shawn Bell to Justin Fenty.
In the second quarter, Charles Dillon and Hill each dropped potential touchdown passes. Overall, the Cougars had four drops in the first half while Baylor had seven.
The Cougars (2-1) limited Baylor (1-2) to minus-10 yards rushing, mostly because they had five sacks for 35 yards.
"We finished, finally, and won," said Doba. "There is no such thing as an ugly win."
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or email@example.com
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