Cougs come out on top of Cardinal

WSU moves to No. 10 in latest AP poll after comeback win



Redshirt junior running back James Williams tries to break through the Oregon defense in a game Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

WSU football defeated then-No. 24 Stanford University 41-38 on Saturday night in California thanks to redshirt freshman kicker Blake Mazza who hit a 42-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining to complete the comeback victory.

“We had them right where we wanted them the whole game,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “I thought our first half was disjointed on both sides of the ball … the second half was like doing surgery with chainsaws, but we did a good job of executing well.”

Stanford opened up the game with the ball and showed the WSU defense how dangerous the Cardinal offense can be. The team drove down the field and dominated the Cougars’ secondary as it took a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback KJ Costello.

The Cougars responded to the opening score from Stanford with the combination of quarterback Gardner Minshew II and redshirt junior running back James Williams. The pair carried the Cougars down the field before Williams scored a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game.

On the next drive, the Cougar defense forced a fumble from Costello that was picked up by redshirt senior defensive lineman Taylor Comfort in Stanford territory. The Cougar offense was able to take advantage of the field position and grab a 14-7 lead on a touchdown pass from Minshew to freshman running back Max Borghi.

On the ensuing drive, Stanford used star senior running back Bryce Love to drive down the field and score a touchdown to tie the game at 14.

The next Stanford drive had Costello carving up the WSU secondary and throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Kaden Smith to give the Cardinal a 21-14 lead.

With 4:43 left in the second quarter and Stanford’s offense driving down the field, Leach called a rare timeout with every member of the team on the field to get them back on track.

It did not have a positive short-term effect for the defense as they committed consecutive personal foul penalties, giving Stanford 30 yards and leading to another Cardinal touchdown to make the score 28-14.

The Cougs got the ball back with about one minute remaining and needed to put some points on the board. Sophomore wide receiver Jamire Calvin made a 54-yard catch to put the Cougs in field goal range. Mazza nailed a 23-yard field goal as time expired to put the score at 28-17 at halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the WSU offense looked primed to score as it moved the ball down the field. The Cougars cut Stanford’s lead down to 28-24 after Williams scored on a 3-yard touchdown run.

The WSU defense stepped up in the second half by only giving up 40 yards in the third quarter. When the quarter ended, the Cougars were only down by a touchdown with the score at 31-24.

WSU opened up the fourth with the ball knowing it needed a touchdown to tie the game. Minshew delivered when he threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Tay Martin to make the score 31-all.

The Cougar defense then forced a punt to give the offense the ball again. WSU then drove all the way down the field before Minshew found redshirt sophomore wide receiver Renard Bell for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Cougs a 38-31 lead.

However, just as fast as the Cougs took the lead, Stanford came right back down the field on offense to tie the game at 38 with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter after Costello found senior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside wide open in the end zone on a 25-yard pass.

The Cougs would have time for one final drive.

With three timeouts and the game in his hands, Minshew showed why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. He drove the Cougars all the way down the field, highlighted by a 35-yard pass to Calvin.

This set up Mazza to make the game-winning 42 yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining. Stanford got the ball back with 15 seconds left, but the Cougs would stop the Cardinal, giving the Cougs the 41-38 win.

Minshew had another phenomenal game as he complete 40 of his 50 passes, throwing for 438 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his receivers also had big games, with junior wide receiver Dezmon Patmon and Calvin racking up 127 and 102 yards respectively.

“On Sunday, I’m not sure we can beat Pullman Junior High, but on Thursday I think we can beat an all-star team of the [Philadelphia] Eagles and the [New England] Patriots,” Leach said. “This is not a business for rational people.”

The Cougs are now in first place in the Pac-12 North division after University of Washington lost to University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday.

WSU returns home to play Cal at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in Martin Stadium.