Despite digging themselves into a 28-10 hole, the Washington State Cougars rallied all the way back and won the 2012 Apple Cup 31-28 in overtime.
The game was a back-and-forth battle which included huge momentum swings by both teams. Washington State outplayed the Huskies in the first half, but a crucial turnover and a potential dropped touchdown, left the Cougars with just a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Huskies finally found some rhythm to open the second half and took a 14-10 lead with a long touchdown drive. Then, WSU proceeded to melt down with dropped passes and turnovers. A Jeff Tuel fumble set UW up for its second touchdown of the quarter putting the Huskies up 21-10. WSU drove deep into Washington territory, but for the second time a dropped pass led to an interception. After forcing a punt, Bobby Ratliff fumbled deep in WSU territory gifting the Huskies another touchdown.
Trailing 28-10, it looked bleak for the Cougars, but they came right back with a run of their own. A Carl Winston touchdown made it 28-17. The WSU defense then forced a turnover setting up the WSU offense again. Tuel made possibly the play of his career with a stumbling scramble where he avoided a sure sack and hit Isiah Myers for a 29-yard gain. That led to Winston's third touchdown of the game and a two-point conversion made it 28-25.
The WSU defense held again and Tuel drove the Cougars into field goal range setting up a 45-yard Andrew Furney field goal to tie the game. Washington had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Travis Coons missed a 35-yard field goal to send it into overtime.
As they did all game, the WSU defense came up huge in the overtime period. The Cougars pressured Keith Price who tried to throw the ball away and instead threw it right into the hands of Toni Pole who raced -- literally the guy has some speed -- down the field but was tackled just shy of the endzone.
Needing just a field goal to win the game, Tuel and Co. did not disappoint. The Cougars moved the ball down the field, setting up a 27-yard field goal which Furney drilled right down the middle. The Cougars poured into the center of the field to celebrate as the students ran onto the field to join them.
Say what you want about Mike Leach, this season, this team, anything. None of it matters. If you think this team quit on Leach, you didn't watch a second of this game. The seniors who went through so much losing capped their career with an Apple Cup win.
While I'm happy for the entire team, I'm especially happy for Jeff Tuel. The guy just could not catch a break during his Cougar career but he showed everything we thought he would all of those years. Watching Tuel lead the Cougars back was a thing of beauty and despite all of the low times, he goes out an Apple Cup champion.