Sept. 7, 2002
PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State wanted to run the ball, and Idaho was more than willing to accommodate the Cougars.
Devard Darling and Jonathan Smith each had three touchdowns as 11th-ranked Washington State gained 240 yards on the ground to beat the Vandals 49-14 Saturday.
"We said we wanted to come out and establish the run," Cougars coach Mike Price said. "We wanted to continue to play good team defense and improve the blocking of our offensive line. I thought we did that today."
Washington State (2-0) won the Battle of the Palouse against its cross-border rival by sacking Idaho quarterback Brian Lindgren six times - three by Rien Long.
Lindgren still completed 33 of 49 passes for 267 yards and an interception, but the Vandals (0-2) gave up 500 yards for the second straight week. Washington State had 517, a week after Boise State piled up 503 against Idaho.
Darling, a wide receiver who transferred from Florida State, caught scoring passes of 15 and 41 yards from Jason Gesser. Darling also scored on a 15-yard reverse.
"That play was not in the script," Darling said. "When the coach called my number, it was a great feeling. It wasn't planned at all."
Price said he thought the sudden change of pace would work.
"What the heck. We have great field position," he said. "I couldn't think of anything else to call. It worked."
Darling's 41-yard scoring reception late in the third quarter came on fourth-and-8. That play, too, didn't happen as designed.
"It wasn't supposed to go that far down the field. We were trying to get the ball underneath," Price said. "They sat underneath and took away those options. We got great protection and (Gesser) threw it over the top for a great play."
Smith, a reserve running back, scored on runs of 1, 7 and 7 yards. He carried 12 times for 121 yards, including a 52-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Gesser was 12-of-16 for 220 yards and three touchdowns to go with an interception. His other TD pass was a 37-yarder to Mike Bush, who had four catches for 108 yards.
Washington State gained just 108 yards on the ground in last week's victory over Nevada.
"Last week, were weren't clicking offensively," starting running back John Tippins said. "Now they should know we have a running game."
Idaho coach Tom Cable said Lindgren was unable to move the offense because the Vandals lacked a running game.
"When you can't get comfortable at quarterback, it's tough. We were not able to establish a running game at all," Cable said. "The key to this game is running the football. You can't win just throwing."
The Vandals, who had to travel just eight miles from their campus in Moscow, Idaho, were overmatched from the start.
Lindgren fumbled the exchange on the second play of the game, and Will Derting recovered for the Cougars on the Idaho 15. Darling ran a reverse 15 yards to score with 50 seconds gone in the first quarter.
Lindgren fumbled when Fred Shavies sacked him, setting up Gesser's 15-yard TD pass to Darling.
Smith scored from the 1-yard line to make it 21-0 early in the second quarter. His pair of 7-yard scoring runs came at the end of the fourth quarter.
Idaho's first score came when Lindgren hit Josh Jelmberg with a 7-yard pass. Cedric Thompson set up the score with a 55-yard punt return to the Washington State 22 with 1:50 left in the second quarter.
Gesser responded with the 37-yard strike to Bush, completing a four-pass, 80-yard drive that made it 28-7 at halftime.
The Cougars travel to No. 8 Ohio State next weekend and used the game as a tuneup. Reserve linebackers Will Derting and Don Jackson each had ankle injuries, and starting wide receiver Jerome Riley had a hamstring injury. Their status for the game won't be known until later in the week.
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer