PULLMAN – All the disappointment, frustration and bitterness associated with yet another losing football season at Washington State came to a crashing halt Saturday afternoon when thousands of fans stormed the field to celebrate the Cougars’ 31-28 overtime victory over Washington in the Apple Cup.
“That was a great moment, man,” WSU sophomore linebacker Logan Mayes said. “You don’t get too many of those feelings in your life.
“That’s like a wedding, first-child-born kind of feeling.”
Mayes, the son of legendary WSU running back Rueben Mayes, knows the pain of being a Cougars fan better than most. Logan spent most of his childhood in Pullman, and he is well aware of Washington’s dominance in the Apple Cup series.
“I remember as a little kid, just being so heartbroken when we lost those games,” Mayes said. “So right when we won, the first thing I thought of was, there’s some little kids out there who are going to be happy the next three days.”
Mayes made his first college start Friday when Travis Long – after starting all 47 games WSU had played the past four seasons – had to miss his final game with a knee injury.
“It was definitely big shoes to fill,” Mayes said. “Travis has been our bell cow all year.
“He’s a guy we can rely on to make big plays. I feel like I really had to step up and do my job in those key moments. I really had to make plays.
“I just went out there and tried to make him (Long) proud.”
Mayes did just that when he latched onto Washington quarterback Keith Price on the first drive in overtime. Price tried to throw the ball with Mayes hanging on him, but WSU defensive tackle Kalafitoni Pole reached out with one hand, intercepted the pass and nearly scored before Cody Bruns caught Pole 70 yards later at the 5-yard line.
“I thought he was going to (score),” Mayes said of Pole. “He was outrunning running backs and wide receivers.”
A short time later, Andrew Furney banged home a 27-yard field goal, and the Cougars were improbable winners. They had lost eight straight games, given up 21 consecutive points to UW in the third quarter and trailed by 18 with less than 11 minutes to play in regulation before staging the biggest rally in the history of the 112-year series between the rivals.
“It’s a feeling I’ll never forget, seeing that kick go through the uprights,” WSU senior quarterback Jeff Tuel said.
Tuel, who graduates in December, said he’s undecided if he will stay at WSU if the NCAA grants him a medical redshirt season. Carl Winston is one of the 12 Cougars seniors who knows his college career has ended, but he hopes Friday’s win was the start of something special in Pullman.
“We’re on the right track now,” Winston said after scoring a career-high three touchdowns. “Now they’re going to have great momentum going into the off-season.”
“Good thing,” coach Mike Leach said wryly, “because the offseason starts Monday.”
True, but Leach did take time to smell the roses.
“Really a great atmosphere, a great way to send our seniors out,” he said.