Cougars aren’t giving up, even without their top QB

  • KEN PETERS / Associated Press
  • Friday, November 10, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Forget the string of overtime defeats, the four-game losing streak and the fact that the quarterback is out with a broken leg. Washington State coach Mike Price remains upbeat.

“We’re excited. We have two games left and we’re going to the Coliseum to play the USC Trojans,” Price said. “This is awesome, to finish the season playing these two games.”

After facing Southern California, Washington State closes its season against rival Washington.

At stake in today’s Cougars-Trojans game is undisputed possession of the Pac-10 cellar. The teams are tied for ninth place with one conference victory apiece.

Having lost Jason Gesser, the conference’s second highest-rated passer, to a broken left leg last weekend, the Cougars (3-6, 1-5) are 11-point underdogs against the Trojans (4-5, 1-5).

Washington State has played three overtime games, losing all three during its current slump. USC is coming off a 44-38 victory at Arizona State when the Trojans blew a 29-point third quarter lead but came back to win in double overtime and snap a five-game losing streak.

Price, whose WSU roster has 38 players from California, knows the Los Angeles-area players will be especially excited to play at the Coliseum.

“I’ve seen so many Southern California kids go there and stink it up because they want to win so bad and show their family and friends how good they are. We want to be excited, but not too excited,” the Cougars coach said.

The WSU players’ trip home to Los Angeles also can create some other problems.

“I think sometimes we might be distracted because half the team is from there and relatives come by the hotel and try to see the players, so it’s a distraction,” Price said.

Matt Kegel, a redshirt freshman who has thrown just 31 pass in his budding college career, gets his first start. He was 11-for-23 for 126 yards after taking over for Gesser in a 27-24 overtime loss to sixth-ranked Oregon last weekend.

USC coach Paul Hackett was impressed with the way the Cougars stayed in the game.

“They lose arguably the best passer in the conference, and the new quarterback comes in and leads them the length of the field for a score, then he did it again in the second half,” Hackett said. “He falls a little short in overtime, but it’s a tribute to Mike Price and their system.

“I don’t think they’ll be much different (without Gesser).”

The Cougars’ offense features Milton Wynn, who has 47 catches and is averaging 98 passing yards per game, and Marcus Williams, who has 27 catches. Dave Minnich (126 carries for 553 yards) and Deon Burnett (84 for 345) share the running chores.

Marcus Trufant, Chris Martin and Mory Banks each have at least two interceptions for WSU this year.

The Trojans, inconsistent on offense much of this season, made progress in their win over Arizona State, with Sultan McCullough rushing for 176 yards and Carson Palmer passing for 279.

One of the Trojans’ best defensive players, linebacker Markus Steele, will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury.

USC holds a 35-4-2 edge over Washington State in Los Angeles, although the Cougars won the last meeting at the Coliseum, taking a 28-21 victory three years ago on Ryan Leaf’s 51-yard touchdown pass with 4:18 remaining.

Hackett figures the Trojans will have their hands full this time.

“They’ve played three overtime games and what does that tell you?” he said. “They’re very competitive.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Jackson High School is awarded the 2023 WIAA class 4A softball championship trophy in Richland, Wash., on Sat., May 27. (TJ Mullinax/for The Herald)
Jackson wins state title over GP after game called by weather

The Timberwolves win 5-1 to hoist their third state softball trophy since 2018 after a game that ended in unusual fashion.

Golf no art.
Scores after Round 2 of 92nd Snohomish County Amateur

Daniel Kim carries a three-shot lead into the final round on Monday at Everett Golf and County Club.

Lake Stevens’ Grant Buckmiller takes a peek at the clock as he runs to the title in the 4A boys 200 meter dash during the WIAA State Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State track: Lake Stevens sprinter Buckmiller blazes to multiple titles

Also, Kamiak’s Kalia Estes and Jaedyn Chase claim championships and more on local title winners and state placers.

State tournaments roundup for Saturday, May 27

State tournaments roundup for Saturday, May 27: SOFTBALL 4A State Tournament At… Continue reading

A Snohomish player slides safe into third during the 3A softball championship game between Snohomish and Peninsula at the Lacey-Thurston County Regional Athletic Complex in Olympia, Washington on Saturday, May 27, 2023. Snohomish lost, 4-1. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish falls in 3A softball title game, takes 2nd place

The Panthers make a run to the state championship tilt, but lose to top-seeded Peninsula 4-1.

Golf no art.
Scores from Round 1 of the 92nd Snohomish County Amateur

Koen Solis and Daniel Kim each shoot 67 and are tied for a three-shot lead after the opening round at Legion Memorial.

Kamiak’s Jaquan Means reacts to winning heat 3 of the boys 110 meter hurdle finals at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington on Friday, May 26, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
State track roundup: Kamiak’s Means wins 4A 110m hurdles title

Wesco runners finish with the top three times in the event, plus a roundup of the rest of the local action from Day 2.

Edmonds-Woodway boys soccer overpowered by No. 1 Lincoln

The Warriors fall in the 3A state semifinals 6-1 and will face No. 7 Lakeside in the third-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday.

State softball.
4A state softball roundup: Jackson, GP reach semifinals

Both teams survive quarterfinal nail-biters to keep state-title hopes alive; Kamiak remains alive in consolation bracket.

Most Read