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Originally published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 10:03 PM

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Cougar freshmen get their shot

With a blowout victory in hand Saturday against Southern Utah, Washington State had the rare luxury of christening some young players into major-college football.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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PULLMAN – With a blowout victory in hand Saturday against Southern Utah, Washington State had the rare luxury of christening some young players into major-college football.

Two more true freshmen got on the field for WSU – Newport High product Isaac Dotson, a quarterback-turned-safety, and offensive linemen Riley Sorenson. They joined cornerback Daquawn Brown and receiver River Cracraft to make it four true freshmen who have seen action in 2013.

Two other redshirt freshmen played for the first time – quarterback Austin Apodaca and Eduardo Middleton. (Apodaca had appeared as WSU’s holder but not at quarterback.)

Dotson says he knew he might switch positions when he signed a 2013 letter of intent.

“They said I could come in as a quarterback and I’d get a shot, and they’d have me on special teams a little bit,” he said after WSU’s 48-10 victory.

About five days into fall camp in Lewiston, Dotson and inside receivers coach David Yost had a talk, and “came to the agreement that in order for me to develop on special teams, it’d be better for me to switch so some of those skills would transfer over.”

As for Saturday, Dotson said, “It was a lot of fun to be out there.”

Apodaca, from flood-ridden Longmont, Colo., spoke similarly after a 3-for-7, 27-yard debut.

“I don’t think I was nervous,” said Apodaca of a three-and-out first series. “I just need to get the cobwebs out. I hadn’t played in a football game since December of 2011. It’s real life, people trying to hit you and kill you.”

“Great for Austin to get some time,” said starter Connor Halliday colorfully, “and lose his virginity out there.”

Stolen steal

Late in the third quarter, WSU sophomore linebacker Kache Palacio intercepted Southern Utah quarterback Aaron Cantu at the SUU 13 and easily rambled in for a touchdown – only to discover that senior safety Deone Bucannon was called for holding on the play, negating it.

Palacio initially put his hands to his helmet in disappointment. On the next play, Bucannon intercepted Cantu and returned 23 yards to the SU 18, leading to another WSU score.

“I think he did it on purpose,” said a smiling Palacio in jest. “It’s all right. He probably owes me dinner.”

Said Bucannon: “I never like hurting my team. It hurts when I took away a touchdown. It was my friend and my teammate’s moment.”

Bucannon heard from kidding teammates on the sideline that he was “selfish. It was all in fun. I said I was sorry to KP.”


• WSU held Southern Utah to 219 yards. With the 193 USC totaled last week, it’s the first time the Cougars have held consecutive opponents under 225 yards since the Palouse Posse did it in 1994. That year, Washington had 197 yards in the Apple Cup won by WSU and Baylor had 151 in the Alamo Bowl.

Andrew Furney’s 46-yard field goal gives him a career percentage of .727 beyond 40 yards (16 of 22), far better than any WSU kicker in history.

Gabe Marks, whose seven catches led WSU, scoffed at the idea WSU might have suffered a letdown after two highly anticipated games at Auburn and USC to start the season. “We don’t talk about letdowns and stuff like that,” Marks said. “We expect to come out here and play good football.”

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