So this is how an era of Washington football ends.
With WSU running back Max Borghi spinning off an Asa Turner tackle attempt at the 11-yard line and diving across the goal line for a 32-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive — fitting foreshadowing for the coming catastrophe.
With WSU outgaining UW 454-200 in a thoroughly one-sided in-state incineration.
With Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura completing an astounding 27 of 32 passes for 245 yards, decimating a UW pass defense that entered the game ranked first in the nation. With the sophomore signal caller sliding to a stop and posing on the Husky Stadium turf early in a mostly meaningless fourth quarter.
With UW freshman quarterback Sam Huard throwing four critical interceptions in his first career start — the last of which clattered off of tight end Devin Culp’s hands, before being returned by Armani Marsh for a 28-yard touchdown.
With freshman cornerback Davon Banks laying on his stomach in the edge of the end zone, hands on his helmet, after failing to down a Race Porter punt at the 1-yard line.
With defensive coordinators-turned-interim head coaches improbably manning each sideline — and one possibly doing enough to earn the permanent position.
With a decisive 40-13 Washington State win that snapped a seven-game Apple Cup losing streak.
But while WSU led 13-7 at halftime, it could have — should have? — been much worse. UW turned in a pair of goal-line stands to momentarily manage the bleeding. With a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, the Cougs faced second-and-goal from the 6-yard line — before a delay of game penalty, an incompletion and a Deon McIntosh run that outside linebacker Bralen Trice stuffed for a three-yard loss abruptly ended the drive.
Midway through the second quarter, the Cougs again stalled just short of the goal line — denied on consecutive Borghi running plays after lining up on second-and-goal from the 1. Dean Janikowski converted a pair of chip shot field goals to extend the WSU lead to 13-0.
Washington didn’t earn its first first down until the 4:33 mark of the second quarter — when sixth-year senior running back Kamari Pleasant plunged forward for a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from his 49-yard line. Two plays later, Huard found wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk with a floater along the sideline for a 29-yard gain, and Pleasant cashed in with a diving 10-yard score. Huard also hit wide receiver Rome Odunze for a one-handed 16-yard score — the freshman quarterback’s first career touchdown — with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.
But that was a rare positive in Huard’s otherwise inauspicious starting debut. The former five-star recruit — whose 13,214 high-school passing yards are the most in the history of the state — completed just 17 of 31 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, sputtering and struggling in his first Apple Cup. Trailing 23-7 late in the third quarter, he hit Odunze with a looping liner for a 55-yard gain … before immediately staring down an interception that linebacker Justus Rogers returned 60 yards.
It was that kind of night.
And that kind of season.
It started with a No. 20 national ranking, immediately followed by a home loss to FCS Montana. It featured the firings of head coach Jimmy Lake and offensive coordinator John Donovan, a sideline altercation that earned Lake a one-game suspension and five losses in one-score games.
It ended with four consecutive defeats, a coaching search, an Apple Cup drubbing and a December devoid of postseason play.
On Friday, the Huskies’ chrome helmets were the only things that shined.