It doesn’t get any bigger than the Apple Cup when it comes to college football in the state of Washington. It’s the University of Washington against Washington State University. It’s tradition. It’s pride. It’s a rivalry at its finest. Let’s be honest — it means everything to the Cougars and Huskies.
I was on the field for Apple Cup 2012 in Pullman. I graduated from Washington State and I’ve covered the Cougars for my entire broadcasting career, but I worked especially close with WSU for more than five years while I was in Spokane. Now that I’m working in Seattle, I was on the other side of the coverage. My focus was more on the Huskies this season (although both teams were still a priority).
Apple Cup 2012 wasn’t much of a matchup on paper. The Huskies were 7-4 on the season, riding a four-game winning streak, while the Cougars were 2-9, losers of eight in a row. That’s why Washington was considered a 14-point favorite this time around. It was one of the largest spreads in the history of the rivalry.
The rivalry started slowly. WSU led the game 3-0 after the first quarter, but both teams added a touchdown in the second. Keith Price gave Washington its first advantage on an 11-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and then Carl Winston handed the Cougars a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
Washington State was prone to massive let downs throughout 2012, and it happened again in the third quarter of the Apple Cup. Washington scored 21 unanswered points to take a 28-10 lead heading into the fourth. Bishop Sankey, who originally committed to WSU and then changed his mind to go to UW, scored two touchdowns in the quarter. On his final score, Sankey accidentally crashed into a photographer on the sideline (click here to watch the hit). The cameraman slammed backward to the ground and was clearly shaken up by the hit. When the photographer sat up, you could see a huge gash over his left eye. Blood started pouring down his face, so he was quickly surrounded by police officers on the field. They called for medical help, but no one gave him anything to stop the bleeding. I’m guessing it was a liability issue or something, but it was really strange that no one was helping right away. It wasn’t like the guy was going to bleed to death, but it was a significant wound. Since the officers weren’t doing anything, FOX sideline reporter Petros Papadakis finally gave the guy a towel to help stop the bleeding.
After Sankey scored the touchdown to make it 28-10, I honestly thought to myself, “Here we go again.” As a Cougar fan, I’ve watched the team squander game after game in 2012. I started planning on my live reports to focus on the Huskies fourth straight win the Apple Cup, but this game was far from over.
Right before the Cougars started to rally, I realized that I forgot an earpiece I needed in the car (which was parked a good ways from the stadium). Since the game was going to lead right up to our newscasts, I needed to get the earpiece as soon as possible. I watched Carl Winston score from 2-yards out to make it 28-17, and then jolted to the car. As I was walking up the stairs at Martin Stadium, I thought to myself that this might be the start of huge comeback and I better hurry. I got my earpiece, and quickly started back to the field. Right before I got to the stadium, I heard the cannons fire to signal another WSU touchdown. Winston scored again, but it was under review. I made to the field in time for them to confirm the touchdown, and watch the Cougars convert a two-pointer to make it a 28-25 ballgame.
Apple Cup 2012 would come down to the kickers. With a little less than two minutes remaining in the game, Washington State’s Andrew Furney drilled a 45-yard field goal to make it 28-28, capping the Cougars largest fourth quarter comeback since 1985. It wasn’t nearly over though. Washington marched back down the field and set up Travis Coons for the game-winning 35-yard field goal with five seconds left in the game, but he missed. There was a strong, cold breeze blowing through Martin Stadium, and I remember seeing Coons’ kick hang up in the air and eventually fall wide right. This Apple Cup was heading to overtime.
Washington got the ball first in the bonus frame, and quickly gave possession to Washington State. On the very first play of OT, Keith price tried to make something happen when he shouldn’t have, and his pass was picked off by WSU’s Toni Pole. The big defensive lineman (he’s listed at 277 pounds) almost returned the interception for the game-winning touchdown, but he was stopped by a hustling Cody Bruns on the five yard line.
The Cougars didn’t waste any time once they got the rock. Jeff Tuel completed a pair of passes to get Washington State to the ten yard line, and on first down the Cougars sent out their kicker. Furney easily drilled the 27-yard field goal, sending Washington State to a 31-28 victory (NOTE: I predicted a 31-27 Washington State win a week earlier — I have written proof and everything). The kick also sent fans storming onto the field to celebrate their first Apple Cup win since 2008. These weren’t just college kids who rushed the field either. I saw children, grandparents — everyone.
I talked to several Cougars on the field after the Apple Cup. Cornerback Nolan Washington was at a loss for words to describe how he was feeling and Carl Winston said it was a game he’ll remember for the rest of his life. On the other side, Washington usually has a 24-hour rule to move on from a game, but head coach Steve Sarkisian admitted that this Apple Cup loss would probably take a few days to get over.
The 2012 college football season is still going, but how can you not be looking forward to Apple Cup 2013? I know I am!
Did you watch the Apple Cup this year? What did you think of the game? I would love to hear from you! Leave a message below, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on sports, music and travel!