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Gesser Makes a Go of It

Pacific 10: He throws for 431 yards in Washington State's 48-38 win at California, despite having a dislocated rib.

September 29, 2002|From Associated Press

BERKELEY — Washington State Coach Mike Price didn't dare keep Jason Gesser from playing Saturday, even if the quarterback did have a dislocated rib.

After a slow start, Gesser seemed like his old self, passing for 431 yards and four touchdowns as No. 16 Washington State rallied to defeat California, 48-38, in the Pacific 10 Conference opener for both teams.

"The guy is tough as steel," Price said. "He wasn't going to let me make any other decision. He probably would have quit if I tried, or boycotted or revolted."

Three Washington State receivers topped 100 yards, led by Jerome Riley with seven receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars (4-1), who were the preseason favorites to win the conference, scored 29 points in the third quarter to erase a 21-9 halftime deficit.

Kyle Boller threw for a career-high 371 yards and three touchdowns to lead Cal, which lost its second consecutive game after starting 3-0. The Golden Bears have lost four in a row to the Cougars and six of seven.

Gesser completed 28 of 44 passes. Mike Bush had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown and Devard Darling had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Gesser started and played the whole game despite the dislocated rib on his right side, which he hurt last week against Montana State. He wore a special hard flak jacket. After struggling in the first half, he directed scoring drives in the Cougars' first two offensive series of the second half on the way to a 10-point lead.

"I never thought I would not play," Gesser said. "I pretty much gave [Price] no choice."

Darling caught a six-yard touchdown pass with 4:35 left to break a 38-38 tie. Gesser set up the score by completing a 41-yard pass to Riley despite getting drilled by Tully Banta-Cain as he released the ball.

Drew Dunning had a season-best 48-yard field goal with 2:27 left to seal the victory.

After a fumbled kickoff by the Cougars, the Bears (3-2, 0-1) tied it at 38-38 on a 20-yard field goal by Mark Jensen with 7:33 left.

Jonathan Makonnen had seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown for the Bears. Joe Igber carried 20 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, but he got most of his yardage early.

The teams combined for 1,050 yards of offense.

Cal built its 21-9 halftime lead behind Boller's 16 completions for 191 yards, including five to Tom Swoboda for 53 yards and a touchdown.

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