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Apple Cup 2013 final score: Mistakes cost WSU, Cougs lose 27-17

Missed opportunities, a crucial mistake and the inability to stop Bishop Sankey came back to bite WSU in a 27-17 Apple Cup loss.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The game was in Connor Halliday's hands.

The Cougar quarterback -- playing in his first Apple Cup -- needed to mount one final drive to write his name into Apple Cup lore. Despite the fact Washington's defense controlled most of the game, Halliday and the Cougs had a perfect opportunity. An inaccurate throw, leading to an interception, killed that opportunity before it ever started.

The Apple Cup proved to be a back-and-forth game with both teams appearing to be in complete control at various times. The defenses dominated early with the two teams trading punts. Xavier Cooper forced a fumble with a big hit on Keith Price and Justin Sagote was able to recover for the first turnover of the game. Good field position helped WSU get on the board and tie the game 3-3.

The WSU offense began to break through late in the first half. Halliday led the Cougars on a 91-yard drive, hitting Rickey Galvin for a 14-yard touchdown to put WSU up 10-3. The Cougars appeared to be marching toward another score late in the first half, but some poor time management, by Halliday and Mike Leach, squandered WSU's opportunity to add three points.

That missed opportunity proved to be costly. Washington got rolling in the second half, largely in part to some excellent running from Bishop Sankey. The Huskies scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half, going up 17-10. Aided by a questionable catch along the sideline, that wasn't reviewed, the Huskies added a field goal at the end of the third quarter to go up two possessions, 20-10.

Needing a touchdown drive to stay in the game, WSU appeared to be running out of chances. Halliday made a mistake by running out of bounds, setting WSU with a 4th-and-15 from the Washington 39. The Cougars, however, pulled out a big play with Halliday hitting Dom Williams for 22 yards to stay alive. Williams caught a touchdown two plays later and we had a ballgame.

The Cougar defense did just what they needed to, forcing a punt and giving the ball back to the offense. WSU had a chance to tie or take the lead, but it wasn't to be. Halliday threw a ball behind his receiver on the second play of the drive and Gregory Ducre came up with the interception.

Desperately needing another stop, the Cougs were unable to slow Sankey and Price, both of which found room to run. The Huskies capped off the drive with a touchdown to seal the Apple Cup victory. Halliday was picked off on WSU's next possession and that was all she wrote.

WSU had several missed opportunities in the game on both sides of the ball. After dominating the line of scrimmage in the first half, the Cougar offensive and defensive lines got pushed around in the second half. Sankey got rolling and the Cougars simply couldn't stop him. He finished with 200 rushing yards on 34 carries and added a crucial 40-yard reception on a screen pass.

The Halliday interception proved to be crucial. Even with Sankey running wild, the game was in WSU's hands. With more than five minutes to play, WSU had plenty of time. An 87-yard drive and the Apple Cup would have been theirs. One mistake later and it was the Huskies celebrating the win.

Poor clock management and some questionable timeout usage early in the third quarter also hurt the Cougars. Time was of the essence late in the game and WSU could do little to stop the clock because it burned its timeouts early.

The Cougars finish the regular season at 6-6 and we'll now have to wait on the bowl committees to find out if WSU will go bowling, or if the season ends here.