Two-minute drill: Cougs triumph on Bear hunt

WHEN IT COUNTED, they made it happen. Despite some early defensive fobbles, a solid showing by the offense helped Washington State roar right past the California Golden Bears, 44-22 in Berkeley. The Cougars' first win against the Golden Bears since 2002 was anchored by an injured Connor Halliday, who threw for three touchdowns and set a school record for pass attempts.

On second-and-goal at WSU's 5-yard line during the game's opening drive, running back Daniel Lasco fumbled, which was recovered by junior nose tackle Toni Pole with 10:58 left in the first quarter. The Cougars took advantage of the turnover with a touchdown and 7-0 advantage on their ensuing possession.

A more apt name for the category might be "Gauta Plays of the Game." Senior nose tackle Ioane Gauta regularly has played well during his two seasons at WSU, but this might have been his most explosive performance. He had a pair of sacks and disrupted several passes, including a fourth-down deflection late in the game.

  • The Cougars' front seven made three outstanding plays to start the second quarter when California had the ball at WSU's 1. Twice, running back Brendan Bigelow was stuffed before being stripped by Pole.

  • On third-and-8 at WSU's 13, freshman quarterback Jared Goff attempted to scramble when he could not find an open receiver, but Gauta stuffed him for a second-quarter sack.

  • Senior safety Deone Bucannon took advantage of the Cougars' pass rush during the second quarter when they hit Goff as he was throwing downfield. Bucannon intercepted the pass and returned it to the Golden Bears' 26.

  • Gauta tipped a Goff fourth-and-1 pass at WSU's 33.

  • With about 11 minutes remaining in the game, California went for it on fourth-and-9. But Goff was hit as he released the ball, which fell incomplete.

    It appeared to be just a generic screen pass on second down. But junior running back Marcus Mason took Halliday's pass and beat several Golden Bears defenders for a 68-yard touchdown pass that gave the Cougars a 21-12 lead with 1:04 left in the first half.

    WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske likes to apply pressure in hopes of generating turnovers. While the Cougars surrendered several explosive plays, they also ruined several promising California drives. None were more significant than the pair of fumble recoveries when the Golden Bears drove inside the WSU 5.

    The Cougars won the turnover battle 5-1. There might not be a more significant stat for teams playing on the road than takeaways.

    There is no question that the game was entertaining as Halliday and Goff combined to pass for more than 1,000 yards. In fact, Halliday set a school record for pass attempts with 67. But with both coaches employing an Air Raid offense, high passing totals are expected.

    WSU coach Mike Leach would have received plenty of criticism if his team lost for his decision to run the ball from the Cougars' 1 directly after Bigelow's fumble. Teondray Caldwell was stuffed in the end zone by DeAndre Coleman, which led to a significant momentum swing during the second quarter. WSU led 14-0 after Bigelow's turnover, but the Cougars were outscored 15-7 before halftime. Halliday, who was 41 of 67 for 521 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, deserves a lot of credit for WSU ending its eight-game losing streak in the series against the Golden Bears. The Cougars took a quick 14-0 lead and missed a significant opportunity when they went three-and-out near midfield during the first quarter. Halliday, who was hurt a week ago against Stanford, converted several third-down plays during the third quarter.

    Even though Andrew Furney missed a 39-yard field goal during the first half, WSU gets the edge here because Theron West stripped the ball from Bigelow and the Cougars recovered at California's 10-yard line. While WSU did not score on the drive they burned more game clock that the Golden Bears desperately needed late in the fourth quarter.

    The Cougars return to Martin Stadium to host Oregon State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

    WSU 7-0
    9:26: Junior wide receiver Vince Mayle caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Halliday. The Golden Bears were cited for pass interference on the play.
    WSU 14-0
    4:21: Sophomore running back Jeremiah Laufasa scored on a 5-yard run. Key play: Junior running back Marcus Mason took a screen pass 41 yards down the sideline to California's 29-yard line.
    WSU 14-2
    13:58: Teondary Caldwell was stopped by Deandre Coleman for a safety.
    WSU 14-5
    11:00: Vincenzo D'Amato 35-yard field goal. Key play: Chris Harper had a 50-yard reception from Goff.
    WSU 14-12
    7:20: Harper scores on an 89-yard touchdown pass from Goff. It is the second longest touchdown pass in school history. Key play: Score was set up when Halliday was intercepted.
    WSU 21-12
    1:04: Junior running back Marcus Mason turns a screen pass from Halliday into a 68-yard touchdown.
    WSU 21-15
    0:15: D'Amato 43-yard field goal. Key play: Goff finds Richard Rodgers for a 29-yard gain down to WSU's 26.
    WSU 28-15
    7:14: Caldwell scores on a 10-yard touchdown run. Key plays: Junior Isiah Myers breaks a tackle for a 30-yard gain directly before the touchdown. Also, the Cougars converted a pair of third-and-1 situations.
    WSU 35-15
    4:24: Mayle breaks away for California defenders for a 72-yard touchdown.
    WSU 35-22
    3:33: Goff connects with James Grisom for a long touchdown pass. FOURTH QUARTER:
    WSU 38-22
    14:39: Andrew Furney converts a 44-yard field goal. Key plays: Halliday completed a pair of third-and-long passes to Bobby Ratliff and Rickey Galvin.
    WSU 41-22
    7:53: Furney 41-yard field goal. WSU 44-22
    7:53: Furney 22-yard field goal.

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