By Craig Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Washington quarterback Brock Huard (7) is tackled
by Michigan State's Ike Reese.
The Huskies culminate a loose week withBy Paul Arnett
an easy victory over the Spartans
in the Aloha Bowl
After a week of hanging out at the beaches by day and Waikiki at night, the University of Washington continued to party hearty at yesterday's 16th annual Jeep Aloha Bowl.
Michigan State took a strict, no-nonsense approach to the game that included focus sessions, limited beach activities and an early-to-bed, early-to-rise mentality that was supposed to pay off in a big way.
By the end of the 215-minute Christmas Day marathon, it was the Spartans who staggered out of Aloha Stadium like some pendulous drunk.
They committed five turnovers, allowed two interceptions and a fake punt to go for touchdowns, tied several dubious Aloha Bowl records, and oh yeah, they lost the game, 51-23.
"Maybe they should have hung out with us a little bit," Washington linebacker Jason Chorak said, then smiled. "Maybe they saw us walking down the street a little tipsy.
"But everybody came and put in their two hours of hard work each day. Practice was intense. We didn't have a curfew when we first got here, but the last three days they locked us down."
Michigan State's players were locked up from the moment they stepped off the plane. Some of the Spartans secretly thought the distractions of Hawaii would catch the Huskies napping.
"But it didn't turn out that way and I really can't explain it," Michigan State running back Sedrick Irvin said. The Spartans' leading rusher was limited to a meager 59 yards on 15 carries and was not a factor. "We started off bad and just got worse.
"There were a couple of times where we could have got back in it. But every time we started to step it up, they just knocked us back down."
By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Washington's Bryan Pittman scores on a first-quarter
touchdown pass as Michigan State's Amp Campbell trails
the play during action in the Aloha Bowl yesterday
at Aloha Stadium.
The Washington bad boys were led by a healthy Rashaan Shehee and Brock Huard. Both were hurt at critical times during the year and returned in big ways.
Huard completed 18 of 30 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Shehee rushed for an Aloha Bowl record 193 yards and two scores. He broke the old mark of 179 yards set by Michigan State running back Blake Ezor in the Spartans' 1989 Aloha Bowl victory over the University of Hawaii.
"It feels great to go out this way," said Shehee, who was voted the outstanding Washington player in the game. "We always knew we were a much better team when we were healthy. Brock and I kept telling each other how good we felt.
"I think we showed people today how good we could have been had things worked out. But this is a nice way to finish my career."
Whether it will be the last hurrah for Huard, who is thinking about coming out early for the NFL draft, time will tell. The 6-foot-5 lefty isn't talking.
"That's not important right now," Huard said. "Celebrating this win with my teammates is all I'm thinking about. We came in this season with some high hopes of winning the Rose Bowl and the national championship.
"It didn't work out, but this still feels really good. The seniors didn't want to lose another bowl game. We wanted to prove to people we could win a big game."
The victory might have helped squash some of the rumors swirling around Washington head coach Jim Lambright, who refused to carry a heavy stick this week. He wanted the players to have fun in the sun, and that's what they did.
"The whole bowl experience is what it's all about," Lambright said. "The players practiced hard and they came away with a big win over a team that beat Penn State."
The players rewarded Lambright with a Gatorade bath. Across the way, Michigan State head coach Nick Saban bathed in another postseason defeat.
"I don't understand why," a bewildered and disappointed Saban said. "I don't think there's anybody on this island who wouldn't say we were the most focused team to play in this game."
Perhaps, but there's this thing called talent that makes the difference. And the Huskies had plenty of it.
They finished with 298 yards rushing and limiting Michigan State's vaunted running attack to 47. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns and pulled off a fake punt for a touchdown that put the game out of reach in the third quarter.
"We showed people that we're a top-10 team when healthy," Washington center Olin Kreutz said. "People were saying we weren't preparing, but they didn't see us practice. We were partying hard, but we practiced hard, too."
So turn out the lights. The party's over.
Washington 51, Michigan State 23
Washington 14 17 13 7--51 Michigan State 7 3 7 6--23First Quarter
UW--Shehee 33 run (Lentz kick)
UW--Coleman 15 pass from Huard (Lentz kick)
MSU--Scott 12 pass from Schultz (Edinger kick)
UW--Coleman 22 pass from Huard (Lentz kick)
UW--FG Lentz 41
MSU--FG Edinger 43
UW--Parrish 56 interception return
UW--Shehee 15 run (Lentz kick)
MSU--Scott 28 pass from Schultz (Edinger kick)
UW--Reed 64 run (kick failed)
UW--Towns 66 interception return (Lentz kick)
MSU--Richardson 21 pass from Burke (kick failed)
A--44,598 tickets distributed, 34,419 turnstile
UW MSU First downs 23 15 Rushes-yards 43-298 29-47 Passing 179 296 Punt returns 2-7 4-70 Kickoff returns 1-25 8-217 Interceptions ret. 3-122 0-0 Comp-Att-Int 18-30-0 14-24-3 Sacked-Yards Lost 1-9 3-22 Punts 6-39.8 3-40.0 Fumbles-lost 2-1 6-2 Penalties-yards 13-126 4-28 Time of possession 36:14 23:46Individual Statistics
Rushing--Washington: Shehee 29-193, Reed 2-70, Shaw 6-34, J. Harris 1-5, Tuiasosopo 1-5, Huard 1-(-9). Michigan State: Irvin 15-59, McFadden 2-10, Renaud 6-5, Burke 1-(-3), Schultz 5-(-24).
Passing--Washington: Huard 18-30-0-179. Michigan State: Schultz 14-24-3-220, Burke 6-10-0-76, Irvin 0-1-0-0.
Receiving--Washington: Coleman 5-68, Shehee 5-8, Pathon 4-54, , Cleeland 3-46, Reed 1-3. Michigan State: Scott 5-114, Richardson 3-42, Long 3-36, Renaud 2-24, Rance 2-33, Reece 1-1, Irvin 1-7, D. Smith 1-9, McFadden 1-6, Hiram 1-24.
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