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Interceptions give boost to Washington St.

©Associated Press
September 1, 2002

SEATTLE -- Jonathan Smith had two short touchdown runs and Will Derting returned one of his three interceptions for a school-record 98-yard score as Washington State opened with a 31-7 victory against Nevada on Saturday.

Jason Gesser, whose Heisman campaign began in July with a poster put up on the side of grain elevator in Dusty, Wash., recovered from a slow start to complete 17 of 29 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown.

Zack Threadgill was 17-of-30 for 155 yards for Nevada, but he was intercepted three times -- all by Derting, an outside linebacker.

Derting's third interception was the big one, and it came as Nevada was threatening to score. The Wolf Pack had advanced to the Cougars' 10-yard line with 6:45 left when Derting stepped in front of Threadgill's pass at the 2. Derting rumbled down the left sideline for the touchdown.

Nevada, a 27-point underdog, used a variety of formations and kept the ball for nearly 12 minutes in the first quarter. The Wolf Pack took a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard run by Chance Kretschmer.

Gesser threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Riley in the second quarter to tie it at 7. Riley finished with five catches for 117 yards.

Smith provided the go-ahead score to put the Cougars up 14-7 just before the half. The seven play, 67-yard drive was helped by Nevada penalties for pass interference and roughing the passer.

Smith, a junior transfer who practiced sparingly because of an injury, had 10 carries for 50 yards. Both of his touchdowns were from 2 yards.

Kretschmer, last season's NCAA rushing leader with 1,732 yards, ran 26 times for 67 yards.

Each team netted 108 rushing yards, and Washington State had a 261-174 edge in passing. The game was slowed by penalties, with the Wolf Pack being penalized 67 yards on eight flags, while Washington State was called nine times for 80 yards.

Nevada held a nearly 2-1 advantage in time of possession.

It was the first meeting of the teams and the first time WSU played someone other than Washington in Seattle since a matchup with USC in the old Kingdome in 1976.

A crowd of 63,588 turned out at Seahawks Stadium, and Washington State officials billed it as the largest pro-Cougars crowd to watch the team.

CALIFORNIA 70, BAYLOR 22: Matt Nixon returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, and Jeff Tedford had a winning debut.

Cal, which was 1-10 last season, scored on a 71-yard double pass on its first play, and the Bears intercepted four passes -- returning two for TDs, including Nixon's length-of-the-field ramble. The Bears scored 35 in the first quarter and led 49-7 at halftime.

Kyle Boller passed for 213 yards and three touchdowns as the Bears backed up the highest-scoring quarter in school history with three fourth-quarter TDs. Cal had 460 total yards, its most prolific offensive day since Sept. 7, 1991.

Tedford, Oregon's offensive coordinator the past four seasons, was hired in December to revitalize a school after five losing years for Tom Holmoe. The crowd greeted him with chants of "We love Tedford!" and "We want 70!"

Geoff McArthur caught seven passes for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. Joe Igber ran for 65 yards and caught a touchdown as Cal snapped an eight-game home losing streak.

Reggie Newhouse had eight catches for a career-high 164 yards and a TD for Baylor, which was kicking off coach Kevin Steele's fourth season. Aaron Karas relieved Cicero and passed for 211 yards, most of it after halftime.

On the first play, Boller threw a screen pass to Terrell Williams, who pulled up and threw a long pass to freshman David Gray behind the Baylor secondary. Gray raced untouched for the score 20 seconds into the game.

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