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Berkeley End of Road for Long Skid

October 01, 2000|From Associated Press

BERKELEY — Washington State doesn't get to celebrate much these days--unless California is on the other sideline, that is.

Jason Gesser completed 15 of 24 passes for 238 yards, and Washington State's defense made a critical stop with 3:19 left as the Cougars defeated California, 21-17, on Saturday.

Washington State, 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference, got its first conference road victory in nine game--since its Rose Bowl campaign of 1997. Washington State's players celebrated wildly in front of their fans after the game, singing their fight song and waving flags as their band took the field.

"Our kids really rose to the occasion. They were cheering for each other on the sideline," Washington State Coach Mike Price said. "It was that intense emotion that you've got to have to win every week in the Pac-10."

In a battle of the conference's worst teams over the last three years, Washington State defeated the Golden Bears (1-3, 0-1) for the second season in a row. Those two victories are the Cougars' only conference victories since quarterback Ryan Leaf led the school to Pasadena three years ago.

"This win shows that we can bounce back and be a good football team," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "That comes from the team effort we put out there."

It was another crushing defeat for the Golden Bears, who might need to turn things around quickly in order to save Coach Tom Holmoe's job and stay afloat in the conference race. California has lost three in a row since beating Utah in the season opener.

"We have a lot of issues we have to take care of," Holmoe said. "This is the toughest trial I've had since we've been here. My biggest job right now is keeping their pride and keeping them strong, and make sure they keep their heads up."

Quarterback Kyle Boller drove the Golden Bears deep into Washington State territory in the closing minutes. On fourth-and-11 from the Cougars' 12 with 3:19 to play, the Golden Bears went for a touchdown instead of a field goal, but Boller threw incomplete under a heavy pass rush.

"I was just full of joy at that time," Trufant laughed.

"We were driving. I think we had some good drives near to the end zone," Boller said. "[But] the receivers and I couldn't hook up. When you can't hook up with your receivers, you're not going to win."

The same Washington State defense that gave up 462 yards of total offense last week against Idaho limited California to 238 yards.

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