Martin Stadium Miracle Gives Cougs Hope

ON A COLD NIGHT on the Palouse, led by a novice quarterback, on a team that has been up and down more times than an elevator, Cougar faithful found something in the snow: Hope. After dropping their last five games, Washington State not only prevailed against Arizona State, but also won by 10 points.

That's more than the margin of a crucial field goal. It didn't come down to a two-point conversion.

It was legitimate college football.

At 1 a.m. today, more than 800 fans were logged onto CF.C's message boards reading threads containing such words as "bowl," "improvement" and "7 wins." Words that not too long ago seemed improbable. After all, a week ago, the same boards were ordering black veils to wear to the wake that would be the remainder of the Cougars' season.

And then came Saturday.

That's not to say that the Cougars are there yet. Two things stand in the way of them finishing with a winning record, getting to a bowl and stopping all the media and fan chatter about Paul Wulff saving his job. First comes Utah, which has been on an upswing, and a week later the Huskies (6-4) in the Apple Cup at CenturyLink Field.

"It's been a long road," Wulff admitted in a postgame radio interview. "It's very refreshing to come in and beat a football team."

AND BECAUSE OF THAT, for a change, there were multiple good things to discuss on a morning after the Cougars pulled out a win against a team which was ranked as recently as the beginning of the month.

Redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, who carried the crimson torch for all but two possessions, garners much of the credit.

"You get on a roll and your confidence starts growing, you just start making plays," Wulff said after the game in explaining that he had planned on playing Halliday on the third possession, then decide how long he would stay in the game.

"Sometimes certain people give you more confidence the way they play," Wulff added. "And I think Connor gave that (to us) tonight with some early throws."

For his part, Halliday was rather nonchalant about the Martin Stadium miracle he had just performed.

"I just wanted to get a chance," he said. "We knew we could do this. It's just coming out and believing. We came out flat against Cal, and you can't do that in the Pac-12."

ON THE OTHER END of many Halliday throws was sophomore Marquess Wilson, who finished the night with 223 yards on eight catches and three touchdowns, including the 85-yard bomb that kicked off the Cougars' rally. Wilson, whose season total reached 1,197 yards on Saturday, has also now surpassed Brandon Gibson's single-season school record of 1,180 receiving yards set in 2007.

The Cougars took their first lead when Wilson caught an 18-yard pass for a 16-13 edge with 1:15 left in the half.

"It's always great to have a game like that and help the team out," Wilson said. "Everyone played hard today."

As for his own performance, Wilson said that in his own mind, "I'm catching every ball thrown to me. If it's a jump ball, I'm coming down with it."

Senior Isiah Barton added seven catches for 155 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown, a 17-yard catch with 8 minutes, 55 seconds left in the game.

Senior Jared Karstetter added another six catches for 63 yards, including a key 20-yard grab late in the fourth quarter that gave WSU a first down at its own 46-yard line.

ACCOLADES ALSO GO to the defense, which managed to hold the Sun Devils to just 60 yards on the ground.

The Cougars stuffed the run early, which resulted in the Sun Devils all but giving up the scheme for most of the time left. Just last week at UCLA, Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall amassed 168 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Saturday, he finished with 37 yards and a touchdown, his second lowest average per carry (2.3) of the season.

"We were starting to get down last week," said junior defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi. "We didn't play well at all. We want to win out."

Playing on a short field marred by poor kickoffs was a challenge for the defense, but Laurenzi said that it "kind of gave us more initiative to stop them."

Wulff extended his credit to the 27,213 fans in attendance for a frosty Dad's Weekend.

"We have great fans," he said. "This is the youngest team in the conference. Good things are in store for us."


  • Saturday was quite a day for Wilson, whose performance put him on several school-record lists. He has now joined Jason Hill (sophomore wide receiver 2004-05) as the only Cougars with a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

    His 85-yard first-quarter touchdown marked his seventh career touchdown catch of 50 yards or more, tying him with Tim Stallworth for the most since 1984. Stallworth accomplished his seven catches in four years.

    Wilson caught three touchdown passes in the game, becoming the first wide receiver to do so since Chris Jordan against Idaho in 2006.

  • For the second straight game, the Cougars had two receivers record 100-plus yards: Wilson with 223 and Barton with 155.

  • Halliday completed 27 passes in 36 attempts for 494 yards, which is the most yards ever thrown by a WSU quarterback in a victory. Alex Brink threw for 531 yards in 2005, but it came in a loss at Oregon State.

  • Sophomore safety Deone Bucannon had a season-high 13 tackles, all solo tackles. His classmate Casey Locker tallied a career-high 10 total tackles and a career-high nine solo tackles.

  • Senior wide receiver Jared Karstetter extended his streak to 37-consecutive games with a reception.

  • Senior running back Logwone Mitz wore No. 6, in support of childhood friend Cory Mackay, the defensive end paralyzed in a car accident after his freshman year at WSU in 2009. Mitz traditionally wears No. 34.

  • Sophomore linebacker C.J. Mizell did not play due to a shoulder injury. Senior Mike Ledgerwood started in his place.

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