PULLMAN — Chris Petersen walked away from the party happening in the end zone where the Apple Cup was being passed around by his players for the sixth straight year. He reached down and grabbed a chunk of the snow that blanketed the turf of Martin Stadium and fired back at the snowballs being flung his way from his two sons.
There was plenty of celebrating by Washington’s coach and his players — snow angels, snowball fights — after the Huskies continued their dominance over Washington State in an Apple Cup the purple and gold won’t soon forget.
“I’ve heard it sucks to lose to the Cougs. I’m glad I don’t have to experience it,” Washington quarterback Jake Browning said.
Myles Gaskin broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and No. 16 Washington won its second Pac-12 North Division title in three years, beating No. 7 Washington State 28-15 on Friday night.
With blustery winds blowing in waves of snow, Gaskin found enough traction to carry the Huskies into the Pac-12 championship game and ruin yet again the title hopes of Washington State. It was the third straight year the Huskies denied Washington State the North crown.
Gaskin rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns, a year after running for 192 and four scores against the Cougars. He was the best player on the field on a night Washington needed its senior ball carrier to be just that. The Huskies (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) will face Utah in the conference title game next Friday in Santa Clara, California. The winner will earn a spot in the Rose Bowl.
“Myles, what do you say? That guy can do it all. He is the ultimate competitor. When you need something good to happen he is the guy that is going to get it done,” Petersen said.
Washington State (10-2, 7-2) carried the Pac-12’s last remaining hope of finding a way into the College Football Playoff, but the Air Raid was mostly grounded by a combo of snow and Washington’s sticky secondary. Gardner Minshew was 26 of 35 for 152 yards.
“We had a lot riding on this game,” Minshew said. “Big goals that we have set for ourselves kind of depended on the outcome of this game and we just felt like we let each other down and wanted to win for each other but couldn’t do it.”
James Williams rushed for two touchdowns and the Cougars trailed 20-15 going to the fourth quarter, the first time since 2008 the game had been within five points going to the final quarter.
Gaskin made sure that didn’t last long.
Facing third-and-1 at the Washington 20, Gaskin broke through the line and found no one in crimson there to make the stop. He outraced Marcus Strong, getting to the goal line just in time and putting him over 1,000 yards for the season. Gaskin became the first Pac-12 running back to top 1,000 yards rushing in all four seasons.
Gaskin finished his career against Washington State with 10 rushing touchdowns.
“We balled out,” Gaskin screamed as he ran off the field in the postgame celebration.
Browning threw for 207 yards, overcoming an interception and fumble to finish his career 4-0 as the Huskies starting QB against their rivals. He made a key third-down conversion early in the third quarter, hitting Hunter Bryant for a 59-yard gain, and on the next play a double-pass had Aaron Fuller hit Bryant for a 22-yard touchdown and a 20-9 lead after the extra point was blocked and returned for a Washington State score.
“It felt good just to be able to help my team and help us get this win … just to be able to do all the things we want to do with our season,” said Bryant who missed the first nine games of the season.
The Cougars’ pulled within 20-15 on Williams’ 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter but that was as close as Washington State would get.
“I thought it was a unique way to see a football game. The biggest thing is that they came out on top, that’s the part really troubling me,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said.
Washington: The Huskies rushed for 258 yards in the snow and have 533 yards rushing in the past two games.
Washington State: The Cougars have struggled with Washington’s pass defense in recent years and the slick conditions made it even more challenging. No Washington State wide receiver had more than four catches.
The Washington band did not perform, a day after one of its three charter buses rolled onto its side while traveling from Seattle. The Washington State band performed the Washington fight song “Bow Down to Washington” during a pregame performance on the field. The section of Martin Stadium where the Washington band would have sat was roped off and left empty. The bus crashed Thursday evening on an icy stretch of Interstate 90 in central Washington. Of the 56 people on board, 47 were taken to hospitals for evaluation or treatment.
Washington: The Huskies will face Utah in the Pac-12 title game next Friday.
Washington State: The Cougars will await their bowl announcement but still should be in good shape for New Year’s Six bowl — probably the Fiesta.