Oct. 9, 1999
(October 9, 1999, Pullman, Wash.): Deon Burnett carried the ball 15 times for 110 yards and four touchdowns to lead Washington State in a 44-0 hammering of Louisiana-Lafayette in front of 23,276 at Martin Stadium. WSU improved to 2-4 overall on the season, while UL dropped to 1-5. The Cougars made their offensive intentions known on their first drive of the game. After holding the Ragin' Cajun offense, the Cougars started play from their own 20 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, starting quarterback Steve Birnbaum handed off to back-up quarterback Paul Mencke on a reverse. The misdirection opened up Nian Taylor for a 29-yard pass and WSU's offensive jets were alive and firing. Three snaps later, Burnett took the ball and ran 12 yards for his first touchdown of the day to put the Cougs on the scoreboard 7-0. Before the first quarter was over, Birnbaum threw directly to Taylor for a 59-yard touchdown and the second WSU score of the game. But early in the second quarter, The Cajuns appeared ready to answer. Starting with favorable field position at the WSU 40, UL marched 20 yards before quarterback Derek Dyer's third-and-six pass was intercepted by WSU's Grady Emmerson at the Cougar 11 yard line. One possession later, with 8:53 left to play in the second quarter, WSU's offense hit paydirt for a third time. Facing second-and-three at the WSU 27 yard line, the Cajuns looked to stuff the Cougars with a blitz. Instead, Birnbaum handed off to Burnett who went untouched up the middle of the field for a 73-yard touchdown. The 21-0 margin would only stand briefly. On the Cajun's ensuing possession, UL's punting squad fumbled the ball and got caught in the backfield to turn possession over to WSU just two yards shy of the endzone. One play later, Burnett was in the endzone with his third touchdown of the day and the Cougars had a 28-0 lead, which they took into halftime. The third quarter saw WSU commit its only turnover of the game (an interception by Birnbaum) but also brought forth another Cougar touchdown. Completing an eight-play, 64-yard drive, Birnbaum tossed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Williams to give WSU a 35-0 edge with 4:03 left in the third quarter. In the final quarter, with Mencke quarterbacking the Cougar offense, Burnett scored his fourth touchdown of the game. This time it was a two-yard run from scrimmage to complete a four-play, 52-yard drive. Burnett's touchdown put WSU ahead 42-0. Before the game ended, WSU's defense earned a team safety to bring the score to its final standing. The Cougar defense handcuffed the UL offense all game long en route to two interceptions and 10 tackles-for-losses, including three quarterback sacks. It was the first time WSU shut a team out since its 58-0 blanking of Boise State in 1997
NOTES & QUOTES
ILLUSIONS: Are the Cougars that good? Are the Cajuns that bad? These were some of the questions floating around after WSU destroyed Louisiana-Lafayette. "We expected to win the game," Cajun coach Jerry Baldwin said. "This team (WSU) beat us tonight because they played better than we did today. I think we match up better with this team than what we played. Our effort was not what it should be to win a game." WSU head coach Mike Price could not disagree. "I don't know how good they are because they never gave themselves a chance," Price said of the Cajuns. "They drove down the field and shot themselves in the foot. They made mistakes. They made crucial errors and we didn't. They were the ones making the mistakes and the Cougars weren't."
THE BEST: The statistics call Deon Burnett the best freshman running back in Cougar history. After putting up 110 yards against the Cajuns, Burnett has 488 rushing yards, the most by a freshman since Rueben Mayes' put up 425 ground yards in his freshman season of 1982. But what does his coach think of him? "He is pretty good for a freshman," Price said. "He's not getting worse, I don't think." Said Burnett of breaking the record, "I hadn't even heard about it...I know how good Rueben Mayes was. He was a great player." And maybe one day Burnett will go down as one of the greats, too. "He's very coachable," Price said. "He's not a prima-donna. He's just a really good kid. God, I hope he doesn't grow up."
BYE-BYE LOVE: After four straight games in Martin Stadium, WSU will now have to try and win on the road. But before the Cougars travel to Tempe to take on Arizona State (October 23), they'll get a chance to get healthy in Pullman. "I think the bye-week is a good thing," Price said. "I think we are building momentum. I think we are getting better and it is going to give us a chance to get healthy. It is going to give us a chance to prepare for two weeks for Arizona State. We've been saying all along that we want these two weeks and we want to do some special things for them...The bye comes at a perfect time for the Cougs."