Dec 31, 2001
By CHRIS ROBERTS
Associated Press Writer
EL PASO, Texas - Washington State's defense shut down Purdue in time for Jason Gesser to rally the Cougars to a Sun Bowl win.
Gesser passed for 281 yards and ran for a touchdown Monday to help No. 13 Washington State beat Purdue 33-27.
No. 13 Washington State (10-2) trailed 20-17 at halftime, but the Cougars held Purdue scoreless in the second half until the final two minutes.
"Our coaching staff made some great adjustments in the second half after we struggled early," Cougars coach Mike Price said. "This is one of the most satisfying coaching experiences I've ever had. With all the injuries we've had this year, this win is really sweet."
Purdue (6-6) drew to 33-27 with 1:53 left and recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Boilermakers drove to the Washington State 22 before turning the ball over on downs.
Drew Dunning hit four of four field goal attempts and Nakoa McElrath caught five passes for 116 yards as the Cougars won their first bowl game in seven years.
"My timing was off in the first half, but after we went to the shotgun in the second half, it gave me more of a chance to get my timing down," Gesser said. "We knew what we had to do, but they were blitzing us and took us out of our rhythm."
Purdue freshman Kyle Orton was 38 of 74 for 419 yards passing and two touchdowns, all Sun Bowl records, but was intercepted four times.
"We didn't execute well, and dropped too many balls," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "When you have a young quarterback and things start to get out of synch, they tend to stay that way."
Taylor Stubblefield caught nine passes for 196 yards, a Sun Bowl record, and two touchdowns. John Standeford and Tim Stratton each had 12 receptions, sharing a new Sun Bowl record. Stratton boosted his career total to 212 receptions, which is third-most in Big Ten history.
"The way Orton can throw the football, Drew Brees' passing records may not last very long," Stratton said.
Purdue was gaining momentum in the second quarter when Orton threw a 65-yard pass to Stubblefield that put the Boilermakers on the Washington State 3.
Orton threw to Stubblefield again for a touchdown with 1:56 left in the half to tie the score at 17.
The Cougars went three-and-out and Purdue drove to the Washington State 33 where Travis Dorsch kicked a 50-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give the Boilermakers the halftime lead.
Washington State's defense put up the first points in the game when Jason David intercepted a pass and ran it back 45 yards with 13:10 left in the first quarter. The Cougars struck again in the first quarter when Gesser hit Mike Bush on a 46-yard pass to make it 14-0.
Purdue scored 20 points in the second quarter. The Boilermakers got their first score with 12:54 left in the half on Montrell Lowe's 1-yard run.
The Cougars scored first in the second half and never trailed again after Dunning kicked a 34-yard field goal with 13:23 left in the third quarter, which tied the score at 20. Gesser ran for a touchdown from the 1 with 3:04 left in the third quarter to give the Cougars a 27-20 lead.
Dunning's 15 points and four field goals both tied the Sun Bowl records.
Neither team mounted much of a rushing attack with Purdue running 32 times for 55 yards and Washington State 27 times for 81 yards.
"The real benefit about the game was not on the scoreboard, but the help it will give us going into next year," said Tiller, whose team is young.
The Cougars' last bowl win came in 1994, when they beat Baylor 10-3 in the Alamo Bowl.