Apple Cup 2012: The most epic of comebacks

William Mancebo

I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in Cougar football game before. But what a time to start.

My morning started early, much earlier than I would've liked it to after consuming more food than most people can eat in two days. The wife and I needed to drive up to Redwood City to visit my mom's for post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner. Even though the meal is in the evening, we had to be there in time to watch the Apple Cup which meant leaving Burbank at 7:15 in the morning.

I wondered all week whether this would be worth it. After watching them leave an egg lying on the turf in Tempe, my mind didn't so much wonder whether the Cougars would win but only if they'd manage to keep it from being embarrassing. The Cougars were regressing and at the worst time possible. As a fan, we can't just shrug off a loss in this game. We're reminded of it by our friends who have an affinity for Washington all season.

To my very pleasant surprise, I was in a good mood at the end of the first half. The Huskies only touchdown had come from a drive that started in the red zone as the result of an interception and an unlikely one at that. The defense seemed to be putting up a wall Washington couldn't get through and the offense, although still having a rough go of it in the red zone, looked like they were at least firing on more cylinders than usual.

A punt on the opening drive of the second half didn't bother me too much nor did the Huskies methodical 13 play drive to pick up their first lead. The offense could come out and score and the defense was bound to have a subpar drive. It happens. No biggie.

On the next possession, a fumble in the red zone and an easy Washington touchdown. Alright well it's still a game, they're still within two touchdowns with tons of time to go. Why worry?

Then the interception. After I got done scooping up the hat I'd thrown across the room I watched the defense stand up and get the ball back.

Then another turnover in the Washington red zone and another easy touchdown pushed it to a 28-10 Husky lead. So, that's how this was going to go. You were going to give me hope and take it all away. Fine. But don't drag this out, just do it and get this over with.

The offense came onto the field and marched westward, punching it in to make it a 28-17 game. Of course they would I'm thinking. Give me a little hope back just to make the pain worse. The three and out the Washington State defense forced on the next possession was nice but, this wasn't going to happen.

Then the third rushing touchdown on the day plus the two-point conversion made it a 28-25. It couldn't be. Another three and out from Washington and the Cougars had the ball back with just over five minutes to play. Not six minutes ago they had been behind by 18 and they had a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

They got to the 28 yard line and would go no further when Andrew Furney marched onto the field and connected from 46 yards. My family let out a scream that sent the dog barreling in to join the excitement. I couldn't believe what I was watching. Down 18 points with about 10 minutes to go, the Cougars had tied the game. They hadn't even scored 18 points in five of their last six games but somehow, someway, they'd done it. My voice was quickly disappearing as were the eardrums of the neighbors. After I calmed down a bit, i saw the clock. The Huskies had enough time to get into field goal range but after gaining just eight yards on their last four drives, I thought the Cougar defense had their number.

One minute and 55 seconds later, the Huskies were on the WSU 18-yard line and all Travis Coons needed to do was chip the ball 35 yards between the uprights to break my heart. It was going to happen. They were going to come all the way back and I was going to watch it slip away.

Wide. Right.

An explosion of noise the likes of which Redwood City, California has likely never heard. The dog started barking and I tackled her to the ground (fret not, the 95 pound black lab can handle it) and my wife was going positively bonkers. This was unbelievable.

The Huskies would start the overtime with the football and this left me worried. Although the 25 yard line isn't inside the red zone, they couldn't be stopped that close to the end zone all day.

Price dropped back to pass. Pressure. Errant pass. Kalafitoni Pole FAT MAN INTERCEPTION! I've never yelled "RUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNN DAMNIT! RUN YOU SONOFABITCH!!!!!!" so loudly in my life. Pole was unfortunately tackled just short of the end zone and on the ensuing possession, Washington State got the ball down to the Washington 9-yard line. On first down, out trotted Andrew Furney for the game winning attempt.

I've never seen such a beautiful 26 yard field goal in all my life.

Pandemonium is the only way to describe what happened next. As I high stepped around the house, I came back to watch students and alumni alike pour onto the field. It's been a very long time since I smiled this much or was this happy about a Cougar football game. The feeling was incredible beyond all possible measure. The Cougars just completed the largest comeback in Apple Cup history and my jubilation knew no limit.

On Wednesday, I wrote a win in this game would forgive almost everything that's happened this season. Even though I still remember all the bad things, all the agony and all the heartbreak, it would help.

At the end of the day, the Huskies are still bowling and the Cougars will still be home for the postseason. The Cougars barely avoided double digit losses and struggled in nearly ever facet of the game all season. It's been a more painful 11 weeks than I ever imagined.

But I'll be damned, even if for one day, this doesn't make it all better. This is one I'll tell my kids about.


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