Running backs plant feet firmly in Cougs' win

IT WAS A MUCH better season-opening Saturday the second time around for Rickey Galvin. The redshirt freshman running back rushed for the Cougars' first touchdown of the day, which came shortly after scampering 7 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage.

It was almost a year to the day since Galvin's freshman season ended with a broken forearm five minutes into his debut collegiate game, a 65-17 loss to Oklahoma State.

"I was really excited to get off the ground after the first carry and not be injured," he said in a postgame interview Saturday.

Galvin, a native of Berkeley, Calif., had seven carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns, the other one coming with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter from 7 yards out. Despite this being his first full game, he said he didn't have too many butterflies.

"I'm confident and I trust in my offensive line," he said.

THE FOCUS ON the running game -- the Cougars averaged 8.3 yards per carry -- paid off for coach Paul Wulff, who noted, "I thought we ran the ball relatively well."

Last week, Wulff said he planned to put the running backs in situations that emphasized their personal strengths. Four players rushed for more than 40 yards each.

The third quarter showcased just that, with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Logwone Mitz, who finished with 58 yards on eight carries, on the Cougars' first drive of the half. At the 4:07 mark, true freshman Marcus Mason, known among the coaches as the program's fastest player, ran untouched for a 65-yard touchdown. Mason had a team-high 88 yards on six carries.

Junior Carl Winston added 42 yards on eight carries.

"Those guys all need to keep competing," Wulff said. "Our running game has to be a big part of our team."

Galvin said that despite being sidelined for the 2010 season, he worked on fine-tuning the elements of his game.

"I was trying to get my timing down with the offensive linemen," he said.

  • The Cougars' 64 points were the most since beating Southwestern Louisiana 77-7 on Nov. 8, 1997. It was also the first time WSU had scored four times on the ground since that game.

  • WSU's 590 yards of total offense were the most since the 638 it had in a 48-9 win against Portland State on Sept. 20, 2008.

  • The Cougars have never lost to an Football Championship Subdivision team in 16 outings, and is 27-0 all-time at home against current Big Sky Conference teams.

  • Sophomore kicker Andrew Furney matched his career-long field goal of 51 yards at the end of the second quarter.

  • Four Cougars scored their first career touchdowns on Saturday. In addition to Galvin and Mason, wide receivers Isiah Barton, a senior, and Kristoff Williams, a redshirt freshman, both made catches.

  • Alex Gauper, a junior from Lewis & Clark High School, made his WSU debut. Gauper handled four kickoffs and a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Wulff said he expects both first-team kicker Andrew Furney and Gauper to travel with the team. He noted that Gauper also is the Cougars' backup punter to Dan Wagner.

  • Redshirt freshman Connor Halliday graded his debut performance at quarterback with a "B-minus or a C," but conceded that it was his first time out there. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. "You've got to start somewhere," he said. He credited his redshirt year for making him more experienced, saying, "It's a great time to learn the offense and get the playbook under your belt."

  • Senior wide receiver Jared Karstetter had praise for both quarterbacks, calling Marshall Lobbestael "one of the hardest working guys you will ever meet" and Halliday "poised back in the pocket." The win was a big confidence boost, he said, adding that they need to stay focused week-to-week.

  • Idaho State junior wide receiver Rodrick Rumble, who played with Lobbestael at Oak Harbor High School, caught 10 passes for 210 yards. That is the third most receiving yards in school history.

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