Halftime: Cougs go storming into Albuquerque

MIKE LEACH'S MESSAGE was clear as the Cougars prepared for their first bowl in a decade: Take care of business -- but have a good time. That is precisely what they did in the first half of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, rolling to a 35-23 lead over Colorado State. And junior running back Theron West has been the biggest surprise of the day -- and a possible MVP candidate.

West, a junior college transfer from LA Harbor College, directly contributed to Washinton State's first three touchdowns -- and the team's bowl record for the most touchdowns in one game (five).

His nifty spin move on third-and-3 on a pass from junior Connor Halliday went for a 12-yard gain. On the ensuing play, Halliday found true freshman River Cracraft for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 12:32 minutes left in the first quarter.

But West's contributions were not limited to special teams. On fourth down, he charged through the line to block the Colorado State punt, which set up the Cougars at the Rams' 5-yard line. Halliday later found sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks for a 1-yard touchdown pass.

West then gave WSU a 21-7 lead with 5:27 left in the first quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Halliday.

West wasn't the only one having fun, though, as the Cougars tallied five first-half scoring drives spanning between 20 seconds and 1 minute, 48 seconds.

With just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, senior wide receiver Vince Mayle caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Halliday after senior safety Deone Bucannon intercepted Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson and returned it 8 yards to Colorado State's 27.

Halliday then found Rickey Galvin for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 2:48 left in the half.

Despite three times settling for field goals by Jared Roberts, the Rams were able to effectively move the ball, including a 63-yard touchdown pass from Grayson to Charles Lovett with 7:02 left in the half.

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