Heartbreak on the Palouse

WSU lost to Oregon 44-41, after leading by 12 in 4th quarter



WSU students leave Martin Stadium after the WSU football team loses to Oregon 44-41, Sep. 24.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

How else can you put it? Saturday’s Cougar football game, the first sold-out game at Martin Stadium since 2019, was heartbreak on the Palouse as the Cougs lost to the Oregon Ducks 44-41 after leading by 12 points with a little over five minutes left in the game.

The Coug defense held Oregon to nine points in the first half and then just six in the third quarter but then let Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and the Ducks’ offense storm back and score a total of 29 points in the fourth quarter.

The Oregon offense and the WSU defense line up during an NCAA college football game, Sep. 24.

The defense that has been so strong all season let loose in the fourth quarter and Oregon took advantage of it.

Jaden Hicks had an excellent game again tallying 11 total tackles. Sam Lockett III had 11 total tackles as well. Daiyan Henley, the Cougs’ star linebacker, had eight total tackles, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit. Francisco Mauigoa had one interception he took back for 95 yards as well, being the highlight of the day for the defense.

Nix had quite the day completing 33 of 44 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 30 yards.

Oregon’s running back room rushed for 178 yards as their top two running backs bounced outside often and were able to take advantage of gaps. Mar’Keise Irving rushed for 81 and Noah Whittington for 69 yards, each on 11 carries.

WSU linebacker Kyle Thornton tackles Oregon running back Bucky Irving during an NCAA college football game, Sep. 24.

Jake Dickert put the blame on himself for letting Oregon gain over 600 yards and for scoring so much in the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t execute at all, and we didn’t do a good enough job, and I didn’t do a good enough job adjusting. Alright, that’s on me. You know, I’ll own that,” Dickert said. “We got to get it cleaned up and it starts with me.”

WSU defenders tackle an Oregon player during an NCAA college football game, Sep. 24.

Dickert was naturally upset when he walked into the press conference room and made it clear that there was no moral victory in this game for the Cougs. His team must execute better to win these close games.

The offense looked good for most of the game. The running game was a struggle all day as they only rushed for 53 yards. But the passing offense looked very good. Cam Ward threw 37/48 for 375 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Ward was also able to scramble often, he was avoiding defenders left and right and was making makeshift passes to give the Cougs big gains.

WSU quarterback Cameron Ward looks for a pass during an NCAA college football game against Oregon, Sep. 24.

Cam Ward spoke about his confidence growing as a Coug.

“I feel like we have a good scheme, I have the right playmakers around me from Linc [Lincoln Victor], to ‘Nard [Renard Bell], to Rob [Robert Ferrel], Don [Donovan Ollie] and Strib [De’Zhaun Stribling]. So having those five guys always around me and the extra work we put in, even the O-Line. All the pieces are there,” Ward said. “I feel like this was a decent day for the offense and just something to build on coming into next week.”

When the Cougars needed big plays Ward was there to make them, Stribling and Ferrel played well too. Stribling with five grabs for 84 yards and a touchdown along with Ferrel’s eight catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

This is the best the Cougars’ offense has looked all season, even against the lackluster competition in Colorado State, Ward looks more comfortable under the Cougs and is improving each week. Oregon was no exception.

Further, Dickert explained what he is telling his team over the disappointment of losing this game. He spoke about keeping their head up through tough times.

“I’d tell them to trust the process, you know, that we’re not going to waver, that we’re not going to change our demeanor. We’re not going to panic. We’re going to keep believing in each other.” Dickert continued, “In adversity, you always have a choice. Right? And we choose to let it bond us closer together.”

Although Dickert spoke about having no moral victories, there is one to be had here. Oregon was ranked No.15 coming into this game. They are a very good football team and WSU had the lead for most of the game. This is a tough loss, but truly knowing the potential of this team and how good it could be is a win for the Cougs.