Relive the Roses
Nov. 7, 2007
By Jason Krump
As noteworthy as the lopsided win over Southwestern Louisiana was, the game also marked the first of the season that a Cougar starting wide receiver, in this case Shawn McWashington, did not play.
"He could have played but Stanford was the next week and that was a very important game," Mike Levenseller said. "We elected to hold Shawn out of that game to get him healthy for Stanford and the Apple Cup."
While Washington was just two weeks away, the Cougars needed every player healthy and ready the week before the Apple Cup, as they could ill afford to look past the Cardinal.
The loss to the Sun Devils had thrown WSU in a battle with Arizona State and UCLA for Pac-10 supremacy.
If the Cougars won their last two games, the only team that could prevent WSU a trip to the Rose Bowl was ASU, and then only if those two teams ended in a two-way tie. WSU would prevail in a three-way tiebreak scenario with ASU and UCLA and a two-way tie with UCLA as a result of the head-to-head win over the Bruins in August.
"We knew we were going to bounce back against Southwestern Louisiana, and, going back to a Pac-10 game, we knew we had to get back on track," Chris Jackson remembered.
"We had our eyes not only on the Rose Bowl but really had our eyes on the Pac-10 title," Jackson added. "It had been so long since Washington State had been mentioned in the top of the Pac-10, we said, `Let's start handling our business.'"
With so much at stake, Mike Price implored the fans to attend the Cougars' final home game as turnout for earlier home games had been less than scintillating.
In the five previous home contests, WSU's average attendance was 31,874 in the 37,600 capacity Martin Stadium. Factored into this average were the 26,000 fans who attended UCLA and the 31,137 who witnessed the No. 10 Cougars overtime win against Arizona.
The less than stellar crowd against Arizona gave WSU national notoriety, but not in the manner desired as Sports Illustrated listed Washington State fans in its college football winners & losers section (they were not listed under the winners column) in the Nov. 3 issue.
Furthermore, the low figure provoked several letters to the editor citing the lack of fan support, which was published in the Nov. 2 edition of the Spokesman-Review.
"We need the support of the fans," Price was quoted in the Nov. 10 Washington State weekly press release. "We need to get the stands full and sell standing room only tickets. We need to have it so loud that Stanford cannot hear itself think. Our fans can help us get the victory over Stanford, which will give us a shot at the Rose Bowl."
It turned out that the fans got the message, as, on what started as an unseasonable warm (temperatures were in the mid-50s) sunny November afternoon that turned colder as the sun set, they packed Martin Stadium to the tune of 40,306, a stadium record that stands to this day.
"There wasn't a blade of grass that someone wasn't sitting on," Price remembers. "The crowd support was awesome."
Picked to finish second in the Pac-10 prior to the season, Stanford began the year 4-1, but had struggled since, and were riding a four-game losing streak heading into Pullman.
At the game's outset, the Cardinal looked to be well on its way to a fifth straight loss.
On Stanford's second play from scrimmage, starting quarterback Chad Hutchinson injured the thumb on his throwing hand and sat out the rest of the game. Backup Todd Husak stepped in and commenced what would be a trying day for him.
Though it didn't start out that way for Husak, as he drove the Cardinal to the Cougars' 17, but then his misadventures began. On three consecutive plays Husak fumbled, which Stanford recovered but for a loss of 27 yards; fumbled again, which he recovered; and was intercepted by Lamont Thompson, the first of two interceptions by the freshman defensive back.
With WSU in possession for the first time, the standing room only crowd witnessed the Cougars do something they were unable to do in their previous two games, jump out to the lead.
A Rian Lindell 52-yard field goal and a Leaf 4-yard touchdown run put WSU in front 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
However, this time, it was the Cougar opposition that responded as Stanford scored two second quarter touchdowns on passes of 59 and 5 yards from Husak to Troy Walters. The Cougars answered on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Leaf to Jackson and though Lindell's extra point attempt was no good, WSU led 16-14.
In their last two Pac-10 games against Arizona and Arizona State, the Cougars had trailed at the half. With 1:08 left and up by two, it seemed the Cougars would be able to enjoy a halftime lead; however, Damon Dunn took Lindell's kickoff and returned it 89 yards to the Cougars' 4-yard line. Only a saving tackle by Thompson prevented a touchdown.
Still, Stanford enjoyed a first and goal situation and had plenty of time to take advantage of it. But after being pushed back to the 9 on a holding call, Husak was intercepted by Brandon Moore to thwart the Cardinal threat and preserve the Cougars' lead.
That advantage was extended in the third quarter when Leaf hit Jackson once again, this time from 9 yards out. The two-point conversion was good to put WSU up 24-14.
A Lindell field goal extended WSU's lead to 27-14, but Stanford closed out the quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run on a reverse from Dunn to pull within six at 27-21.
That deficit quickly turned into a lead in the opening moments of the fourth quarter when Walters stunned the Cougars and the sell-out crowd with a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Suddenly, with the extra point conversion, Stanford led 28-27.
However, as had become the theme all year, when the Cougars were tested, they responded.
"That was the attitude of our team that year; we weren't going to be denied," Jason McEndoo said. "Every game was indicative of our season of no quit attitude. We always knew we were going to come back.
"I think the reason we had that attitude was the senior group we had," McEndoo added. "We had been through the up and down years and the experiences where we let the game slip through our hands. We weren't going to let it happen."
Beginning the drive from their own 34, the Cougar offense only needed six plays to answer. Michael Black's 4-yard touchdown run, combined with another successful two-point conversion, placed WSU back on top 35-28.
After the defense held Stanford to a three and out, the Cougars once again put points on the board, this time courtesy of a 29-yard Lindell field goal that lengthened WSU's lead to double-digits once again at 38-28 with 4:23 remaining.
On its ensuing drive, Stanford lost the ball on downs, and WSU was able to take a knee, and secure its seventh Pac-10 win.
Leaf ended the day with 258 yards while Jackson caught eight balls for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Black ran for a season-high 174 yards, his sixth 100-yard rushing performance of the season. The defense did its part too, forcing Husak into four interceptions.
"Stanford was a game that we put together another good game offensively and got back on track on our home field," Jackson said.
The win placed WSU in a position to embark on a destination that no Cougar fan had thought was possible again ... the Rose Bowl.
With a little help from UCLA, the Cougars had just one more obstacle to overcome in order to make the dream of Pasadena a reality.
Washington at Husky Stadium.
It was not the first time this scenario occurred.
Relive the Roses
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