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Cougars Can Always Turn to Dunning

December 28, 2002|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

If the Rose Bowl comes down to a pressure kick, Washington State's Drew Dunning knows the territory.

"It develops a confidence level when you've had game-winning and game-tying kicks," Dunning said. "I go up there real confident, not worrying about missing, the crowd, or people calling my name."

The biggest kick of his career came against USC this season.

Not the 35-yard game-winner in overtime, but the other 35-yarder he made to tie the score in regulation.

"With 1:50 left, we're down three," he said. "If you don't make it, they run out the clock and the game's over."

He made it, helping force overtime.

On the first possession of overtime, USC's Ryan Killeen -- who had missed a crucial extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter -- tried to make up for it on a 52-yard field-goal attempt. He missed.

Washington State took over, and set up Dunning for a 35-yard attempt -- not so much pressure, really, because if he missed, the game would continue.

He nailed it, and that 30-27 victory is why Washington State -- not USC -- is in the Rose Bowl.

Dunning, a junior, has been on the losing end of overtime too -- in the Cougars' 29-26 triple-overtime loss to Washington.

He made four field goals in that game, including two in overtime and one with 4:41 left in regulation. But he didn't get a chance in the final overtime after a controversial play was ruled a fumble recovered by Washington, ending the game.

"In overtime, it's like penalty kicks, that's the best way to describe it," Dunning said. "I'd like to have scored or had a chance to answer his kick in overtime."

Dunning, a former walk-on, doesn't have the strongest leg -- the longest kick of his career is 49 yards.

Oklahoma freshman Trey DiCarlo made 14 of 19 field goals this season, but he is a stranger to overtime and didn't play many close games.

"A lot of good kickers, college and pro, miss game-winning or game-tying kicks when they know they can do it," Dunning said. "But really, there's nothing different from any other kicks.

"Against USC, that game-winning field goal was no different from any other. A 35-yard field goal shouldn't be any different in August than it is Jan. 1."


After practicing Friday, the Oklahoma and Washington State players made an appearance at Disney's California Adventure and also sampled some rides.

For the Washington State players with Southern California ties, it was a bit of nostalgia from childhood trips to Disneyland.

"The teacups, the swings, that's me," said receiver Mike Bush, from Riverside. "Something slow, where I can't fall out."

Not defensive tackle Rien Long, who was born in Los Angeles but went to high school in Anacortes, Wash. He's strictly a roller-coaster man.

"I'm more of a Magic Mountain guy," he said of the Six Flags park in Valencia.

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