Cougars Win Thriller over Wildcats
October 25, 1997
PULLMAN, Wash. - With a one-yard plunge, Ryan Leaf completed a record setting day with an overtime victory over Arizona 35-34 in front of 31,137 screaming fans at Martin Stadium.
The win was the first over Arizona since 1992 and propelled the tenth ranked Cougs to 7-0 on the season and 5-0 in Pac-10 play, both best starts since 1930. The loss dropped Arizona to 3-5 on the season, with a 1-4 Pac-10 record.
Leaf passed for a career high 384 yards to bring Washington State back from a 21-14 halftime deficit. Michael Black added 123 yards on the ground for the ninth 100-yard effort of his two-year career.
Arizona's offense was powered by redshirt freshman quarterback Ortege Jenkins, who passed for 246 yards. Jenkins put Arizona on top first, moving the Wildcats 11 yards on three plays to capitalize on a Leaf interception.
After an offside penalty against the Cougs and two rushes netting five yards, Jenkins plunged into the endzone for the score.
On Arizona's next possession, Jenkins drove the Wildcats 72 yards on 12 plays, finishing with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt.
Washington State trailed 14-0, when they received Arizona's kickoff with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter. On the shoulders of six Black carries for 39 yards, Leaf and the offense came surging back.
After completing a three-yard pass to Love Jefferson on first down, Leaf found Kevin McKenzie on a 27-yard touchdown route. Rian Lindell's point-after kick put the Cougs on the board, 14-7 with 16 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Cougs began their second scoring drive. A juggling touchdown reception by Nian Taylor, with Arizona's Kelvin Hunter at his side, brought the Cougs to a 14-14 tie with 4:12 left in the half.
But Arizona fired right back. The Wildcats drove 80 yards in only nine plays, receiving help from a 14-yard pass interference penalty that brought the ball to WSU's two yard-line. Two snaps later, Jenkins found Kelvin Eafon for the one-yard touchdown connection.
After adding the extra point, the Wildcats would hold the Cougars and enter the lockeroom with a 21-14 advantage. It was the first time WSU had trailed at halftime all season.
With 7:13 left in the third quarter, Leaf completed his pass to McKenzie for their second touchdown connection of the day. The 48-yard catch-and-run knotted the game at 21.
Arizona regained the lead once more. Jenkins found Brad Brennan on a 34-yard touchdown play to cap off an 85 yard drive to take the 28-21 lead with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter.
But the Cougars refused to die. Leaf orchestrated a 59 yard scoring drive to start the fourth quarter. DeJuan Gilmore's one-yard run into the endzone, followed by a Lindell kick, tied the game 28-28 with 11:42 of game time remaining.
Neither the Wildcats nor the Cougars could capitalize on their remaining possessions and the game went to overtime.
In the overtime period, the Cougars had nine plays inside the Arizona's ten-yard-line, before Leaf found the endzone. His one yard touchdown dive and Lindell's kick put the pressure on Arizona to tie or win.
Jenkins and the Wildcats would move the ball to a fourth-and-two situation at WSU's six-yard-line when Bruce Wiggins broke free for the touchdown reception. Faced with a tie or win situation, Arizona elected to try for a two-point conversion. On the attempt, Jenkins rolled right and fumbled into the endzone after being wrapped up by two Cougar defenders.
WSU's Gary Holmes covered the ball to secure the victory, 35-34. The Washington State offense accumulated 515 yards of total offense. Arizona's cause was aided by 112 yards of penalties against the Cougs. Steve Gleason led the WSU defense with ten tackles.
WASHINGTON STATE 7 7 7 7 7 35 ARIZONA 14 7 7 0 6 34
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