BY Art Thiel 12:43AM 11/30/2014

Thiel: Huskies, Shelton barrel-roll over Cougs

NT Danny Shelton, complete with a stunt maneuver, led Washington to a near-shutdown of the nation’s top-rated passing attack in a 31-13 Apple up triumph in Pullman.

Huskies RB Dwayne Washington scored on runs of 51 and 60 yards Saturday night at Martin Stadium in Pullman. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

In a frozen night devoid of drama as well as mayhem — even the Washington State students could not work up much drunken belligerence — the highlight moment Saturday  at Martin Stadium in Pullman came when NT Danny Shelton unveiled a maneuver rarely seen from a 340-pounder.

In the third quarter, Shelton, an almost certain first-round choice in the NFL draft, executed a pre-snap barrel roll to his right, giving him a better angle on a pass rush in which he exploded past a blocker to sack Cougars freshman QB Luke Falk.

The stunt was one of many disruptive forays into the heart of the nation’s No. 1 passing attack that turned the 107th Apple Cup into a rout as well as a snooze. The 31-13 final score did not describe the dominance, because the Cougars’ Air Raid offense worked only in two late scoring drives against Washington reserves.

The UW defense forced three turnovers, sacked Falk four times and allowed WSU to convert only three first downs from 15 tries on third and fourth downs.

Shelton said he was egged on during practice by teammate Hau’oli Kikaha, who claimed Shelton lacked athleticism.

“He was making fun of me,” Shelton told KOMO radio. “So I practiced it, but I forgot about it in the first half. Then coach (Jeff) Choate reminded me. So I did it and made a play.”

He was given a half-sack, but his senior season has been the whole package as each week he overwhelmed offensive linemen who rarely could handle him one-on-one. In a rather tumultuous first season for new coach Chris Petersen, Shelton’s leadership and reliability was a constant.

Shelton made a pre-game statement at the team hotel when, shirtless and shoeless, he joined teammates in a courtyard playing in the falling snow. So much for the notion that the Huskies would be intimidated by the brutal weather which, by game’s end, was near zero with the wind chill.

“We had a coaching staff change, and they’ve been doing a great job of inspiring us, motivating us,” Shelton said. “I made it a goal of mine to bring a positive energy to practice and games.”

He succeeded well enough that the Huskies finished with an 8-5 record (4-5 in conference) despite an offense that stuttered for two-thirds of the season. But a bowl game will give the Huskies a chance to match the nine wins in the final year of Petersen’s predecessor, Steve Sarkisian, although the Huskies played one extra game because they opened in Hawaii.

The Huskies bowl site and opponent won’t be known until Dec. 7 after the regular season concludes nationally. But after the top four teams are selected for the first-ever national playoffs, the Huskies seem likely destined for the Cactus Bowl Jan. 2 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ.

The game, known previously as the Copper Bowl, the Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, is contractually tied to the team with the Pac-12′s sixth-best conference record and the No. 5 team from the Big 12 Conference. The Huskies have never played in the bowl that began in 1989. The per-team payout this year is $3.3 million.

RB Dwayne Washington scored on the game’s second scrimmage play from 51 yards and, on the second half’s second scrimmage play, from 60 yards to crush the Cougars (3-9), who never touched him on either run. Cyler Miles completed a season-high 25 passes in 39 attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns as the Huskies ended the regular season on a high note.

“You want your team improving and on an upswing,” Petersen said. “It’s taken a while to figure out how to practice right and get their mind right for the energy of the game. We were really ready for this game; I don’t know if we felt it quite like that all season.”


  • ll9956

    A very nice way to end the regular season. Hope there’s one more victory in their bowl game. Go Dawgs!

    • art thiel

      An L in the Apple Cup to this version of the Cougs would have prompted Montlake revolt.

  • Jamo57

    I’m sure we’ll be seeing the barrel roll highlight in all the pre-draft ESPN coverage and when he gets picked this spring (fall to the Hawks PLEASE!!!). Mel Kiper or John Gruden will provide the gushing narration.

    As tempting as it is to go back and grouse over Kneel-gate and whine the Huskies should be 9-4, the upswing at the end of the season is gratifying and feels good heading into the bowl game and offseason. Good job!

    • Big

      The barrel roll was funny, always is. I have seen it preformed flawlessly in middle school football. Mr. Shelton is a good player.

      Congratulations to the Huskies.

      • art thiel

        Now I know where Shelton gets his inspiration.

    • art thiel

      It was a good finish — he didn’t blow an 18-point lead in the 4Q like Sark.

  • Tyee Club member

    There will be some big holes to fill next season. Shaq is a first rounder. The senior D-line was the best in recent memory. Coach Pete did a good job in his first year. Husky nation should be optimistic about the direction of this program.

    • Jeff Shope

      they lose an awful lot seems like it will be rougher next year

      • art thiel

        Pete already threw off 10 percent of the team, so it could be some backslide next year.

    • art thiel

      Pete’s own tactical mistakes cost him a win or two, but he’ll grow into the job. As long as he quits saying everything is “so hard.”

  • 3 Lions

    What the Falk?
    The Cougs’ looked totally Falked up but who really gives a Falk?

    • art thiel

      Gotta come stronger than HS sophomore jokes, 3 Lions.

  • Xavier Cougit

    And Leach leaves his starters in til the very ignominious end, just so he won’t be blanked for the first time ever. Way to stay classy, Mikey. You still have a small football.

    Btw, Jim Moore owes me a bottle of wine. I’m angling for a Bledsoe cab.

    • Big

      You call out Coach Leach for lacking class? That’s rich.

      • art thiel

        Maybe he meant “going to class.”

    • art thiel

      No quit in those Cougs.

      Go light on Moore. He owes many.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    What a tumultuous season for both squads. State losing games while wracking up gaudy offensive numbers and losing their record setting QB only to raise eyebrows with their more than capable walk on Faulk.The Huskies had this “lose seldom ” coach come in and for my money various coaching gaffs cost them 1~2 wins but nontheless guided them to a positive record. The team seemed to grow a bit as the season ended. The Cactus Bowl?Is there money in selling Cacti?Nice regional name though. In any event it will be a good warm destination for the Husky faithful and they will fill that stadium in Tempe to the glee of the prickly committee.
    I love this state and wish both programs would return to prominence ala the golden years.
    As odd as Leach is it would be nice to see his system take off next year and I think Peterson will guide our wet side club to better days with a recruiting class or two under his belt. For the most part both teams displayed pretty good sportsmanship in the Apple…the game was played hard and the one with the most to lose took care of business. Good luck next year to both squads.

    • art thiel

      Most college teams have lots of drama, owing at least partly to the mis-fit of many athletes into a college scene they neither need nor want.

      In Falk, Leach may have the QB of his desires.

      • Big

        Mis-fits, most fans have no idea how true you are. Falk is no mis-fit. Not that the QB position is without it’s outlier, aka Johnny Football. Pete and Mike prefer the mis-fits they recruit until they don’t.

  • jafabian

    That was an actual practiced move by Shelton? I thought he just slipped! A bit surprised at the disparity in the score though I imagine the Dawgs still remember last years Apple Cup. I was afraid the freshman secondary would get lit up but they got 2 INTs, including one by John Ross. Overall a great football weekend for Seattle, if not a futbol one.