SEATTLE – On a night of ups and downs, at times it seemed that Washington State would have no problem blowing through Rutgers’ defense – and at others, that its own defense would be unable to make the necessary stops. In the end, it was a series of late miscues that cost the Cougars a season-opening victory as they fell 41-38 to the Scarlet Knights at CenturyLink Field.
TURNING POINT: Washington State appeared poised to take control with a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter — and the ball. But that was thwarted when River Cracraft fumbled the punt return at midfield, which was recovered by Anthony Cioffi. That set up the go-ahead touchdown and Rutgers’ victory.
DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE GAME: While the Cougars struggled to contain the Scarlet Knights’ running game, they also produced several important stops:
Immediately following a failed fourth-down conversion at Rutgers’ 5-yard line, linebacker Tana Pritchard intercepted Gary Nova and returned it 9 yards to Rutgers’ 2-yard line. That play set up an Erik Powell field goal that reduced the Cougars’ deficit to 7-3 in the first quarter.
Pritchard stopped Paul James for no gain on third-and-1 at Rutgers’ 39. The Scarlet Knights then attempted to go for it on fourth down, but a lineman was called for a false start.