HALFTIME: Cougars dominate first half

Offense. Defense. Special teams. All three units made significant, positive impacts to help Washington State build a 28-0 halftime lead in a nonconference game Saturday against Portland State at Martin Stadium. Quarterback Connor Halliday completed 24 of 37 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns — and the offense even incorporated the running game at times.

The Cougars used a blend of run and pass to build a 14-play drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by freshman Gerard Wicks with 2 minutes, 5 seconds, remaining in the first quarter. It was WSU’s first rushing touchdown of the season.

And it was just the start.

The Vikings put themselves to respond when Kieran McDonagh found Kasey Closs on third-and-21 for a 30-yard completion to WSU’s 10-yard line. But on the next play, safety Taylor Taliulu forced a Shaq Richard fumble and defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao recovered it at the Cougars’ 7.

Connor Halliday immediately took advantage as he found Isiah Myers for a 67-yard pass to PSU’s 26. Five plays later, Halliday connected with River Cracraft for a 15-yard touchdown to extend WSU’s lead to 14-0 with 12:10 left in the second quarter.

Special teams, which were a bugaboo during the Cougars’ first two games, also made an impact as Galvin returned a punt a little later in the second quarter for 44 yards to the Vikings’ 17. One play later, Halliday found Dom Williams for his second touchdown to increase WSU’s lead to 21-0 with 11:01 remaining in the first half.

One of WSU’s few stalled drives came at its own 42 when coach Mike Leach elected to go for it on fourth-and-4. But it did not matter as cornerback Charleston White intercepted a McDonagh pass in the end zone three plays later. Halliday again took advantage as he capped a six-play, 80-yard drive when he found Vince Mayle for a 3-yard touchdown pass.

The Cougars outgained PSU 357-120 during the first half.

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