Cougar receivers getting their groove back?

IT WASN'T ENOUGH to win, but it was something. After a trio of poor performances against UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State, WSU's receiving corps showed some life Saturday afternoon in their 43-28 loss at No. 7 Oregon. For the first time since the Cougars' 31-27 win at Colorado, Jared Karstetter and Marquess Wilson both surpassed 100 yards in the same game.

Karstetter, a senior, caught seven passes for 114 yards en route to sixth place on WSU's all-time receptions list with 143. His third-quarter touchdown catch was the 17th of his career in the 35th straight game in which he had a reception.

In his fourth 100-yard game of the season – and ninth of his career – Wilson, a sophomore, had a career-high 11 catches for 126 yards.

Senior wide receiver Isiah Barton added another three catches for 18 yards.

As a result of such play, the Cougars' offense had 30 first downs, only the second time this season that it has had that many, and outgained Oregon's offense 462 yards to 454. The Ducks' offense entered the game sixth in the nation – and hadn't been outgained at home since barely escaping with a win over Purdue in 2009.

Granted, it could have been more. WSU had a number of drops. Other passes to open receivers were behind or low their intended target.

THE 24-YARD PASS from senior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael to Karstetter with 3:31 left in the third period cut the Cougars' deficit to 29-20 – and was the team's only touchdown reception of the game, which is hardly common in the age of passing versus running the ball.

But the Cougars were marred by repeated problems in the red zone, which, in turn, limited their scoring.

"You have to play almost perfect to beat a team like this," Karstetter said in a postgame radio interview. "You've got to execute in the red zone."

Lobbestael took the sole blame for his team's inability to do so.

"When I get down into the red zone, I've got to be smarter with the ball," he said in a postgame interview with the Eugene Register-Guard. "It's a team game, but at the same time the quarterback has total control over forcing it in there."

STILL, COACH Paul Wulff said he felt his team had a solid, balanced game plan.

"We had a few drops and misthrows that could've been big plays for us," he said in a postgame radio interview.

Karstetter took some responsibility on behalf of the receiving corps for some of their leader's inconsistencies. Lobbestael threw for 337 yards and a touchdown – and two interceptions, both when the Cougars were inside Oregon's 25-yard line. He was also sacked three times.

"It's a team thing when he gets sacked," he said. "We've got to get open."

Wulff was more succinct in his assessment of the offensive woes.

"We had so many opportunities," he said.

Despite the outcome, Karstetter seemed optimistic about some aspects of the Cougars' play.

"When you play a great team, you've got to make plays," he said. "I think we beat them in a lot of phases of the game today."


  • As previously reported by CF.C, Karstetter has been named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, which comes with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He plans to attend dental school once his football career is over. "I'm honored to have people who have helped me out to get to this point," he said.

  • Sophomore Damante Horton has had an interception in four straight games. His 76-yard return was the second interception returned by WSU for a touchdown this season. The other was by Alex Hoffman-Ellis in the 63-14 win over Idaho State in the season opener.

    Horton is one away from tying the WSU record of five, set by Jason David in 2002.

    "I saw one more person coming, and I felt my legs start giving out," Horton said of nearly being cut off by an Oregon offensive lineman near the Ducks' 25. "I would have been talked about all week."

  • Oregon now has a record five-game win streak in the series. Both teams previously had multiple four-game victory streaks in the series. WSU most recently accomplished that from 1981-84.

  • Lobbestael credited the offensive line for the way it handled the noise in Autzen Stadium. There were 59,126 fans present for Oregon's 79th consecutive sellout.

    "They did a good job of sorting stuff out – communicating in a loud, hostile environment," he said.

  • Sophomore safety Casey Locker, flagged for a questionable personal-foul penalty for "hitting above the shoulders," is "someone (officials) are talking about in the conference, obviously," Wulff said. Locker was penalized last week against Oregon State for a hit on wide receiver Markus Wheaton.

  • Saturday's 463-yard effort marked the fifth game this season that the Cougars have amassed more than 400 yards of total offense.

  • Lobbestael's 337 passing yards made for his fourth 300-yard game of the season – and his career.

  • WSU held Oregon to 15 points in the first half, the fewest since holding the Ducks to a field goal in the first half of the Oct. 21, 2006 game, which the Cougars won 34-23.

  • Sophomore Andrew Furney's 25-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter was his first miss of the season.

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