SEATTLE (AP) — The names changed. The script remained the same.
A lot of Washington defense mixed in with just enough offensive punch. And plenty of frustration from Washington State after its high-scoring offense was shut down by its rival, again.
For the seventh straight year the Apple Cup will reside in Seattle after Washington once again stymied the Cougars, rolling to a 31-13 victory on Friday. Jacob Eason threw for 244 yards and one touchdown, and ran for another, and Richard Newton scored on a pair of short TD runs for the Huskies.
But as it has for several years, the difference was Washington’s defense managing to keep the best scoring team in the Pac-12 grounded. The Cougars were held 28 points under their season average. Anthony Gordon threw for 308 yards, but after the first drive of the game when Max Borghi scored on a 1-yard run the Cougars never again found the end zone.
The Huskies (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) have relished in their ability to stymie and solve the Air Raid offense, and after beating Washington in his first season in charge in Pullman, Mike Leach has yet to develop a counter.
“They haven’t switched up their plays, so we keep running the same stuff,” Washington defensive back Elijah Molden said.
After three straight years where the Pac-12 North title was at stake for one or the other in the Apple Cup, this year’s clash had little buzz and no implications outside of potentially a slightly better bowl game assignment for the winner.
It became another afternoon where Washington showed off its ability to slow down Leach’s system. The 13 points allowed were tied for the fewest Washington State (6-6, 3-6) has scored since a 2017 loss to California. The Cougars were averaging 41 points per game and Gordon had thrown 45 touchdowns on the season, including 11 combined over the past two games.
Gordon never found the end zone for the first time this season and threw a pair of interceptions when the Cougars needed to be nearly flawless on offense.
“The game is meaningful to us and as we do that we get out over our skis, we overcorrect, we try to do too much and all of the sudden it's a frantic effort which it's hard to execute when you do it that way,” Leach said.
The seven straight wins are the longest in the series since the Huskies won eight between 1974-81. All seven have been by double-digits.
For Eason, it could end up being his only time playing in the rivalry. Eason was excellent using his tight ends to pick apart Washington State’s defense in what could be his final home game after just one season with Washington. Eason seems destined for the NFL, the question is whether it will be after this season or if he’ll return for his senior year.
If this was it, he went out on a high note after Washington’s offense that staggered through its past two games scoring just 19 and 14 points against Oregon State and Colorado. Eason was 15-of-22 passing and his favorite targets were tight ends Hunter Bryant and Cade Otton, who combined for nine receptions for 142 yards. Eason also hit Terrell Bynum on a perfectly placed 16-yard TD pass and added a 3-yard score on a QB sneak.
“I thought the guys went out there and executed well,” Eason said. “Super proud of the defense. That’s an explosive offense and kept them on their toes.”
Gordon — the leading passer in the country — completed 48-of-62 passes, but nearly all his throws were underneath and the Cougars couldn’t stretch the field vertically against Washington’s secondary.
“I think we squandered a bunch of opportunities, fell behind the chains a few times and they're too good of a defense to fall behind the chains,” Gordon said.
Despite the offensive struggles, Washington State twice had a chance to pull within one score early in the fourth quarter. The most crushing was Deon McIntosh’s fumble at the Washington 10 with 12:57 remaining. The Huskies did nothing with the turnover, but Gordon made his worst decision of the day on the ensuing drive, throwing a careless pass while scrambling that was intercepted by Trent McDuffie.
Peyton Henry’s 22-yard field goal with 6:35 left provided the final cushion for Washington.
“I can say I never lost to the Cougs,” Washington center Nick Harris said. “And when I come back in 15 years, 10 years and I speak to the guys I can say I never lost to the Cougs.”
During the seven-game win streak Washington has held Washington State to an average of 14.1 points.
Washington State scored on its opening possession, going 81 yards in 13 plays and capping the drive on Borghi’s 1-yard TD run. It was the first time the Cougars scored a touchdown in the first quarter against Washington since 2012.
Washington State: Gordon reached 5,000 yards passing for the season, the 16th time that’s happened in FBS history. He has 5,228 going into the Cougars’ bowl game. ... Borghi had just 50 yards rushing and the Cougars finished with 31 as a team.
Washington: The Huskies sacked Gordon five times after the Cougars had allowed just 13 all season. Joe Tryon had two sacks.
Washington State: The Cougars will wait a week to find out their bowl assignment.
Washington: The Huskies will wait to find out their bowl assignment.
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