WSU Football | Cal has Cougs seething mad
Seattle Times staff reporter
PULLMAN — For a team that hadn't won in Pullman since 1979, California made up for lost time Saturday.
The 10th-ranked Golden Bears took advantage of a slumping Cougars offense to beat Washington State 21-3 before 31,441 spectators in Martin Stadium.
The Cougars are in a red-zone funk. Saturday, they got inside the 20-yard line three times and emerged with only a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Last week at Oregon State, they made four trips to the red zone and only had two field goals to show for it in the 13-6 victory.
"It's so frustrating I can't even describe it," said left guard Sean O'Connor. "To have that many opportunities and only come away with three points for really the second straight week, it's unbelievably frustrating."
Quarterback Alex Brink said, "It's so frustrating because everyone can see how close we are to getting it in the end zone, which is the point of the game."
Trailing 21-3, the Cougars appeared to score late in the third quarter on a 4-yard swing pass. One official signaled touchdown, but the play was reviewed and overturned. On fourth down, Brink was stuffed on a quarterback sneak.
Derrell Hutsona had put the Cougars in position to score with a 70-yard run after taking a pitchout from Brink, changing directions, and racing to the Cal 5.
That run accounted for 70 of the Cougs' 88 rushing yards. The Cougs didn't have a first down by rushing until the third quarter.
However, the worst Cougars stat was 0 for 11 on third-down conversions.
Cal's defensive prowess had a lot to do with WSU's woes.
"Basically, they manhandled our front," said WSU coach Bill Doba, who noted that his line has been injury-plagued.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said, "This was a defensive victory. We really did a nice job of when they got in on the short field, even in the red zone, of keeping them out of the end zone."
The victory boosted Cal to 6-1, 4-0, while the Cougars drop to 4-3, 2-2.
The Cougars were the team that couldn't afford to make mistakes Saturday and made a big one early.
Cal jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Cougars punter Darryl Blunt bobbled a good snap from Tony Thompson and Cal's Nu'u Tafisi blocked the punt and recovered on the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard plunge.
California drove 71 yards to score later in the first, with quarterback Nate Longshore getting the final yard on a sneak.
A WSU interception led to Cal's third touchdown. Cornerback Daymeion Hughes easily collected Brink's pass for his sixth interception of the year and this one apparently was on a route run incorrectly.
After the interception, Cal drove 88 yards in 12 plays and scored on an 8-yard run by Lynch, who finished with 152 yards on 25 carries.
Down 21-3 at half, the Cougs switched quarterbacks. Gary Rogers was in for two series, the first ending with a punt and the second, with completions of 17 yards to Jason Hill and 14 yards to Michael Bumpus, ending with an interception.
Rogers suffered a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder and didn't return. Quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach said the injury didn't make it necessary to decide which quarterback would play.
Brink said "no comment" and "I don't really want to talk about that" when asked about his thoughts when told of the quarterback switch at halftime.
Brink completed 19 of 35 passes for 227 yards.
The top receiver was sophomore Brandon Gibson, who caught eight passes for 130 yards. Jason Hill, who had been questionable because of a shoulder injury, caught two passes for 23 yards. He had a first-quarter pass go through his hands in the end zone.
Another Cougars star who was held in check was defensive end Mkristo Bruce, who entered the game leading the nation in sacks was 10. He was held sackless.
Bruce said, "They hit me in the mouth every single play and they let me know about it. ... This is the most physical and nasty game I've ever been a part of."
The biggest medical surprise was that right tackle Charles Harris (ankle) was able to start. He had been listed as doubtful.
The defensive star for the Cougars was strong safety Eric Frampton, who had an interception, forced a fumble, recovered another fumble and led the team in tackles with 12.
California had entered the game after scoring more than 40 points in each of its past five games.
"In the second half, we held them to zero points, which is awesome," Frampton said.
Although, the final outcome certainly wasn't awesome.
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company