SAN DIEGO -- Now this was a Holiday Bowl, with big plays all
over the place.
Washington State (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 16-point lead, then came up with a huge defensive stand late in the fourth quarter to beat No. 5 Texas 28-20 on Tuesday night.
The Cougars came up with big on special teams, too. Punter Kyle Basler was named defensive MVP after pinning the Longhorns inside
their 5-yard line four times.
"This win is huge for our program, to beat the No. 5 team," first-year Washington State coach Bill Doba said.
The Holiday Bowl has a history of big plays and wild finishes, and this one had both.
After Mock threw an incompletion, WSU blitzed hard and forced Mock deep into the pocket. D.D. Acholonu hit Mock and forced a
fumble that was recovered by linebacker Will Derting at the 36-yard
line with 2:16 to play.
"They were coming from everywhere," Mock said. "We knew
coming in that's how they were going to play."
Texas got the ball back one more time, but Mock was sacked at midfield by Acholonu as time expired.
Derting said the Cougars were pumped up because the Longhorns dissed them at a banquet Monday night.
"They said we have an OK defense and you kind of take that
personally," Derting said. "It got us fired up."
Washington State (10-3) won 10 games for the third straight
year. At times, Texas (10-3) looked nothing like the highest-ranked
team not in the BCS. The Longhorns saw their six-game winning
streak end, and with it a chance to post three straight 11-win
seasons for the first time in school history.
The Cougars scored on three big plays in the third quarter to take the lead for good. The big rally came 22 years after the
Cougars also scored three touchdowns in the third quarter of their
first Holiday Bowl appearance, only to fall just short in a 38-36
loss to BYU.
With the Cougars trailing 10-7, Sammy Moore hauled in a 54-yard pass from Matt Kegel to give WSU its first lead, 13-10, with 9:23
left in the third quarter. Moore caught the ball at about the 20
and came dangerously close to the right sideline as he outraced
Cedric Griffin to the end zone. Drew Dunning's PAT hit the left
The Cougars forced Texas to punt, and Moore returned it 51 yards to the Texas 26.
Four plays later, from the 12, Kegel went into motion and the ball was snapped straight to running back Jonathan Smith. Smith had to pick up the low snap from the ground, then picked his way
through the defense to score. Smith carried 21 times for 110 yards.
Two Texas possessions later, the Longhorns were pinned deep and Mock had to throw from the end zone. Matt Melton caught the ball at the 13, but was hit and fumbled. Cornerback Jason David picked it up at the 18 and ran it in for a 26-10 lead. The PAT was blocked.
Texas' David Pino kicked a 19-yard field goal with 13:32 to
WSU got a safety when Texas was called for holding in the end zone, giving it a 28-13 lead.
Texas closed to 28-20 when Williams, who had been a nonfactor, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mock with 4:29 to go.
"Washington State had a great game plan for us," said
Williams, who passed up the NFL draft last spring to return for his
senior season. "It was pretty impressive. They were getting there
when we tried to throw the football."
Kegel, a cousin of former NFL bad-boy quarterback Ryan Leaf, was playing with a sore throwing shoulder that forced him out of WSU's final two regular-season games. He completed 18 of 32 passes for 203 yards and two TDs, with two interceptions.
Texas was held to just 131 yards rushing with Cedric Benson
gaining 83 yards on 22 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Benson scored on a 1-yard run for Texas and Kegel threw a 12-yard TD pass to Moore. Pino kicked a 39-yard field goal 4 seconds before halftime for a 10-7 lead. Doba said all week that special teams could help decide the
game, and Basler, the sophomore punter, did his part.
"We were looking at 80-90 yards the whole game because that guy's so good," Texas coach Mack Brown said.