The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs roll Colorado back to Boulder on senior night

WSU football seniors say goodbye to Gesa Field in style
WSU senior cornerback Cam Lampkin celebrates with teammates Kapena Gushiken and Jackson Lataimua during an NCAA football game and senior night against Colorado, Nov. 17, in GESA Field in Pullman, Wash.

Anytime Deion Sanders comes to town there is going to be plenty of media attention, but the attention was on the Cougs (5-6, 2-6) Friday night as they dismantled the Buffaloes (4-7, 1-7) 56-14. 

The Cougars were humming in all three phases of the game and all 17 seniors honored before the contest made an impact. The mix of senior night festivities, a prime-time island game and a six-game losing streak made the performance that much better.

“When you go through stretches like that, I mean it makes these moments even sweeter. Our program wanted it so bad for these seniors and these guys for everything they’ve given us. To see them smile and make plays and have fun and see a bunch of guys get an opportunity to play, I mean, it was a special night,” WSU head coach Jake Dickert said.

A few Cougar legends left their mark early and often, as receiver Lincoln Victor scored the game’s first points on a 15-yard rushing touchdown right after Ron Stone Jr. ended CU’s first drive with his first sack of the night.

Stone was not done, however, as on the Buffs’ second drive, he dropped CU quarterback Shedeur Sanders for a strip sack that was recovered by fellow sixth-year senior Brennan Jackson and taken for a touchdown. It was the third fumble recovered this year by Jackson, all three being forced by Stone.

“I told both of them, and they know how much they mean to me and what they’ve meant to this program. I’m just excited that they finished something, cause they’ll be Cougs for life,” Dickert said.

Brennan Jackson recovers a fumble forced from a Ron Stone Jr. hit on Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders in an NCAA football game at GESA Field, Nov. 17, in Pullman, Wash.

A couple of drives later WSU gave up a touchdown to CU receiver Travis Hunter, who got chippy with the Cougs all night long, but Wazzu responded immediately as receiver Leyton Smithson returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for the Cougs’ first return touchdown of the season.

“We’ve been looking for guys that can just hit it and we felt like we had some opportunities kind of in that middle part of the year. We just felt confident in Leyton, the way he was practicing and what he was doing, and he was close against Cal,” Dickert said. “I’m just so proud of that kid because once again, a player that didn’t get what he wants, started last year, hasn’t played much, stayed the course and found a way to impact the team.”

That score was the beginning of the end for CU as the Cougs with a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Nakia Watson and a pair of rushing touchdowns for quarterback Cam Ward. Watson, who has had a tough season, racked up a season-high 56 rushing yards on eight carries on the ground, as well.

Only a few drives in, the Buffs lost Sanders due to an injury/illness and faced a rotation of backups throughout the remainder of the game. As expected, it continued to get uglier as the Cougs, leading 42-7 at halftime, responded to more chippiness from Hunter by hitting receiver Kyle Williams for a 34-yard touchdown pass, leaving Hunter in the dust.

WSU receiver Kyle Williams stares down Colorado DB Travis Hunter in an NCAA football game at GESA Field, Nov. 17, in Pullman, Wash.

The game finally began to slow down, but not before Jackson struck gold again, returning another fumble 74 yards for another score and his third defensive touchdown of the season, more than not only any other player in the Pac-12 but any other team this season.

“I knew no one was catching me. I put in the work over the summer. I’ve hit my stride, we’ve hit our wickets, I was ready to go, I was ready to take off,” Jackson said. “I think the second one where it was 70 yards, like it was just green grass. Like this is crazy, never would I think I’m gonna be in a position to run 70 yards with the football in my hand, everyone watching me, I have a little look back thing like the receivers do half the time I was like ‘what am I doing,’ but it was incredible.”

From there it was all garbage time as the Cougs switched the No. 2 offensive and defensive units, getting the young guys playing time, but also the seniors who operate mostly on special teams.

“Those are the types of situations you always hope you can do for your brothers. You want everyone to be able to look back and talk about their memories here at Gesa Field. Those memories are so important and I’m glad all those guys were able to make some, especially on a night like tonight,” Stone said.

The most impactful senior performances came from Jackson, who extended his career-best sack total for a season to seven. Stone had two sacks, three QB hits and the forced fumble, as he now has five sacks on the year. Last but not least Victor, whose five catches on the night raised his season total to 78, tying him for eighth in WSU history for single-season reception total. 

“It’s just a testament to my hard work and sacrifice that not only my parents have made, but my circle. They’ve done a great job just keeping me level-headed. Things have never gone my way, but when you push through something hard and you push through adversity, there’s always greatness at the end,” Victor said. “My dad always tells me hard work never goes unnoticed and I truly live by that… There’s many nights where I really contemplated playing football because of how hard it is, and you think back to the process. The more you fall in love with the process, the better it’s going to be.”

WSU senior receiver Lincoln Victor celebrates with teammates Josh Kelly and Djouvensky Schlenbaker after a touchdown in an NCAA football game against Colorado, Nov. 17, at GESA Field in Pullman, Wash.

Other key contributors for WSU were receiver Josh Kelly, who had six catches for 130 yards, Ward throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 completions and freshman receiver Carlos Hernandez, who broke his lone two catches for 77 yards, 40 of which coming after the catch.

Overall the Cougs outgained the Buffs 469-255 in total, racking up five sacks and nine tackles for loss while averaging 7.2 yards per play to CU’s meager 3.8. The win was a true showing of dominance at all levels, something the Cougs desperately needed to end the six-game slide and keep hopes alive of potential bowl eligibility. 

Now Wazzu has just one more guaranteed test this season as they head to Husky Stadium next week for the final edition of the Apple Cup, at least in a Pac-12 setting. The Cougs would love nothing more than to ruin Washington’s College Football Playoff hopes and undefeated season while extending their own bowl streak to eight consecutive years in the process.

The Apple Cup looms over the horizon, but for now, Cougars everywhere will enjoy this one knowing the losing streak is over, the seniors were sent off  in style and the Buffaloes were rolled right back to Boulder.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.