PULLMAN - Officially, the Washington State Cougars rushed for minus-54 yards Saturday.
Of course, that doesn’t count the hundreds of yards WSU’s quarterbacks spent running for their lives when they somehow managed to avoid being tackled for a loss.
Arizona State, taking advantage of the Cougars’ young, injury-riddled offensive line, recorded an amazing 12 quarterback sacks – not to mention six quarterback hurries – in a 27-14 triumph at Martin Stadium.
“We just got completely dominated by their defensive line,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “More of a domination than I’ve ever seen.”
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How inept was the Cougars’ offense? Well, WSU’s leading rusher was punter Reid Forrest, whose 15 rushing yards came on a fake punt in the first quarter.
More than half WSU’s 181 total yards came on one play, a school-record 99-yard pass from Jeff Tuel to Johnny Forzani for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona State’s offense was no work of art, either. The Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1 Pacific-10 Conference) threw three interceptions and lost three fumbles, and their 27 points tied the season low allowed by a WSU defense that ranked at or near the bottom nationally in several defensive statistics coming into the week.
“The defense did a great job today, no question,” Wulff said.
“The defense played a great game,” Tuel said. “They did the things necessary for us to win the game.”
Obviously, the same could not be said for WSU’s offense. School officials did not know if the 12 sacks are a school record for Arizona State or against the Cougars (1-5, 0-4 Pac-10).
The rushing yardage was the worst on record at WSU (going back to 1957) and ranked third for an Arizona State defense.
Forzani tied a football record that can never be broken with his 99-yard TD romp.
The Canadian speedster, a former basketball standout who has only one year of previous football experience, flew down the left sideline past cornerback Josh Jordan.
“He (Tuel) put it in a spot which was just perfect for me,” Forzani said.
Tuel, a true freshman making his second start, threw his first college touchdown pass, to Jared Karstetter late in the third quarter.
Washington State had fallen behind 19-0 after going scoreless in the first quarter for the ninth game in a row and in the first half for the third consecutive game.
Tuel was replaced by former starter Marshall Lobbestael for all of the second quarter and most of the third quarter after lofting two soft, fluttering passes that were easily intercepted in the first quarter.
Tuel was under pressure on both passes. He was sacked eight times, but managed to complete 11 of 22 passes for 175 yards. Lobbestael went 6 for 12 for 60 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
“When he (Tuel) came back in the second half, he played a lot better,” Wulff said.
Danny Sullivan, Arizona State’s senior quarterback, also spent some time on the bench.
He was intercepted three times and passed for just 169 yards (19 of 29), but he passed for the first touchdown of the game and ran for the second to sour the mood of a season-high crowd of 26,010 that turned out for homecoming on a crisp sunny afternoon.
“Their team was fired up and ready to go, and they kept us on our heels for a good amount of the game,” Sullivan said.
Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said he was temporarily knocked out when he was bowled over by an ASU player on the sideline late in the third quarter.
Senior wide receiver Kyle Williams sparked the ASU offense with a career-high 13 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Dimitri Nance ran for 113 yards and a touchdown for the Sun Devils.
The last-place Cougars, who have lost three in a row, added to their rather remarkable list of injuries by losing starting cornerback Daniel Simmons to a broken fibula. It was not known if Simmons will miss the remainder of the season.
Simmons was one of eight freshman starters (four on each side of the ball) for WSU.
Two started on the offensive line, and three started on the defensive line (joined by junior end Casey Hamlett, a transfer from NCAA Division II Western Washington).
The Cougars made late changes to the starting defensive lineup by inserting freshman tackle Dan Spitz for Toby Turpin and Hamlett for senior end Jesse Feagin.
WSU senior center Kenny Alfred sat out the fourth quarter with a badly cut knee. Wulff is counting on Alfred, a Gig Harbor High graduate, and several other key veterans being back in the lineup once the Cougars follow their bye week with a game at California (3-2, 0-2) on Oct. 24.