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Good Gesser Is Enough

January 01, 2002|From Associated Press

EL PASO — Washington State's defense shut down Purdue in time for Jason Gesser to rally the Cougars to a Sun Bowl victory.

Gesser passed for 281 yards and ran for a touchdown Monday to help No. 13 Washington State defeat Purdue, 33-27.

Washington State (10-2) trailed, 20-17, at halftime, but the Cougars held Purdue scoreless in the second half until the final two minutes.

"Our coaching staff made some great adjustments in the second half after we struggled early," Cougar Coach Mike Price said. "This is one of the most satisfying coaching experiences I've ever had. With all the injuries we've had this year, this win is really sweet."

Purdue (6-6) drew to 33-27 with 1:53 left and recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Boilermakers drove to the Washington State 22 before turning the ball over on downs.

Drew Dunning made all four of his field-goal attempts and Nakoa McElrath caught five passes for 116 yards as the Cougars won their first bowl game in seven years.

"My timing was off in the first half, but after we went to the shotgun in the second half, it gave me more of a chance to get my timing down," Gesser said. "We knew what we had to do, but they were blitzing us and took us out of our rhythm."

Purdue freshman Kyle Orton was 38 of 74 for 419 yards passing and two touchdowns, all Sun Bowl records, but was intercepted four times.

"We didn't execute well, and dropped too many balls," Purdue Coach Joe Tiller said. "When you have a young quarterback and things start to get out of synch, they tend to stay that way."

Taylor Stubblefield caught nine passes for 196 yards, a Sun Bowl record, and two touchdowns. John Standeford and Tim Stratton each had 12 receptions, sharing a new Sun Bowl record. Stratton has 212 career receptions.

Dunning's 15 points and four field goals both tied Sun Bowl records.

The Cougars' last bowl victory came in 1994, when they beat Baylor, 10-3, in the Alamo Bowl.

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