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WSU’s third loss of season costs team Pac-12 North title

Cougars end regular season with fifth straight defeat to UW

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Redshirt senior running back Jamal Morrow struggles to break a tackle during the Apple Cup versus University of Washington on Saturday.

Redshirt senior running back Jamal Morrow struggles to break a tackle during the Apple Cup versus University of Washington on Saturday.

ABBY LINNENKOHL | Daily Evergreen File

ABBY LINNENKOHL | Daily Evergreen File

Redshirt senior running back Jamal Morrow struggles to break a tackle during the Apple Cup versus University of Washington on Saturday.

SAM HEIKELL, Evergreen columnist

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WSU football’s hopes of winning the Pac-12 North were spoiled in the Apple Cup for the second straight season, as the Cougs fell to University of Washington on Saturday.

The team’s road struggles continued on both ends, as the defense failed to consistently get stops and the offense had four turnovers and could not run the ball. WSU rushed for negative 24 yards on the night.

The Cougs dropped to No. 21 in the Associated Press rankings following the loss, as the Huskies moved up to No. 13. Both teams will find out what bowl game they are in when the announcements are made next week.

“We went out there, we played anxious, we squandered all kinds of opportunities in the first half,” Head Coach Mike Leach said after the game. “And then it became a series of overcorrections after that.”

The Huskies came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, marching down the field on an opening drive that was capped off by a touchdown from junior running back Myles Gaskin.

Gaskin had himself a night, rushing for 192 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. He led a Huskies offense that racked up 328 yards on the ground.

Along with the lopsided rushing numbers, UW had five sacks and put pressure on redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk all game long.

“Their strength is the offensive line and the defensive line,” Leach said, “and I think that showed today, because they did a really good job there on both lines of scrimmage.”

Along with both sides of the line getting manhandled, Falk’s poor play has been one of the catalysts for the Cougars’ random road struggles this season. He’s had games where he plays like the quarterback that holds the Pac-12’s all-time passing yards record and has given WSU a chance to win the conference championship.

But this weekend we saw the side of Falk that WSU couldn’t afford to see. The Falk that could not get the offense moving against Cal, and the Falk that takes the whole first half to get going.

“I saw about three different Luke Falks today,” Leach said. “I saw the first-half guy, which he was a complete stranger. I saw during the middle of the game, a guy who was struggling to get on track, which I thought he courageously did. Then I saw the Luke Falk at the end, the guy that I’m more familiar with.”

Besides the shaky line and Falk’s ineffective play, the whole team was at fault for the loss and not showing up this week.

“You could kind of see it out there that people were trying to overplay and do other peoples’ jobs, and try to make that one tackle or play that they thought would win the game,” Dale said. “That’s just something that we’re going to have to learn from the film and get better from it.”

The loss marks the fifth straight year the Cougars have been defeated in the Apple Cup.

“It’s disappointing,” senior running back Jamal Morrow said. “I mean, you’ve played the whole season, and for it to all come down to this game, and to lay a dud — it sucks. But you take it and move on, and get ready for our bowl game.”

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WSU’s third loss of season costs team Pac-12 North title