Cougars get one game closer to bowl eligibility

WSU football won on Saturday against the Stanford Cardinal



WSU Athletics Director Pat Chun said the failure to meet the roster requirement was not only because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

KURIA POUNDS, Evergreen reporter

Cougar football returned to Pullman for Dad’s Weekend to take on the Stanford University Cardinal on Saturday, resulting in a 49-22 win for WSU in front of a sold-out Martin Stadium.

The Cougar offense revived itself after a disappointing showing in Berkeley, and the special teams for WSU struggled early, but managed to fix the mistakes when it mattered.

With this win, the Cougars (5-5, 2-5) now sit one win away from being bowl-eligible for the fifth-consecutive year.

WSU drove down the field first, finishing with a 29-yard passing touchdown from redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Gordon to Easop Winston Jr., redshirt senior wide receiver, to take an early 6-0 lead. The Cardinal (4-6, 3-5) blocked the extra point attempt for WSU.

Gordon completed 44 of 60 passes for 520 passing yards, paired with 5 touchdown passes and an interception.

Both Winston and Brandon Arconado, graduate student wide receiver, finished with 255 combined receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

Head coach Mike Leach said this was the most complete game of the season so far.

“We had contributions on offense, defense and special teams,” Leach said.

Winston said the defense stepped up the whole game and the energy level has definitely been boosted.

“[The defense] put their best foot forward… It was just great to see them come together,” Winston said.

Redshirt junior linebacker Jahad Woods collected his 100th tackle of the season with a sack. This is the first 100-tackle season for the Cougar defense since former linebacker Peyton Pelluer collected 101 tackles in 2015.

Woods said he was surprised to see Stanford throw the ball that much, but it gave the defensive backs opportunities to make plays.

“It was kind of like playing against our offense just continuously throwing the ball,” Woods said.

Gordon drove down the field and capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Tay Martin to extend the Cougar lead to 13-0.

To start the second quarter, WSU went down the field and finished with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Gordon to Winston to give the Cougars a 19-0 lead, after redshirt junior punter Oscar Draguicevich III fumbled the hold, redshirt sophomore kicker Blake Mazza missed the extra point attempt.

Gordon threw a redzone interception to freshman safety Jonathan McGill with 6:21 left in the second quarter. The Cardinal answered with a 23-yard passing touchdown from junior quarterback Davis Mills to sophomore wide receiver Michael Wilson to cut the Cougar lead down to 19-14 late in the second quarter.

WSU ran the two-minute offense and drove down the field, but couldn’t convert on fourth down, so the Cougars settled for a 35-yard field goal by Mazza to stretch the lead to 22-14 entering halftime.

After an 83-yard kick return from sophomore wide receiver Travell Harris, Gordon threw a 5-yard passing touchdown to Arconado to extend the lead to 32-22.

An interception from Mills to redshirt junior safety Skyler Thomas resulted in a 2-yard passing touchdown from Gordon to sophomore running back Max Borghi to extend the Cougar lead to 42-22.

With that touchdown, Gordon now set the single-season record at WSU for passing touchdowns with 39 this season.

“Right now,” Leach said, “he’s probably playing quarterback better than anyone in the country.”

The Cougars’ next game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday against the Oregon State University Beavers at Martin Stadium for senior night.

Editor’s note: Game has been changed to win to clarify the Cougars need to win one of their next two games to be bowl-eligible.