2 minute drill: Cracraft, WSU D save the day
Players of the game: The linebacking corps earn player-of-the-game honors for the defense. Jeremiah Allison led the Cougars with 13 tackles, Darryl Monroe followed with 11, and Kache Palacio added eight. Allison and Palacio also teamed up for the Cougars’ only sack of Utes' quarterback Travis Wilson. WSU's defense bent but did not break, and surely the performance during the final three quarters could be another confidence booster for the Cougars going forward. On the offensive side of the ball, there were plenty of standouts. It’s hard to overlook the play of Dom Williams or Vince Mayle, as each scored two touchdowns. But the most important player on offense was River Cracraft. He did not have a touchdown reception against Utah, but helped Connor Halliday convert six third downs into first downs. Without Cracraft, the game could have gone completely different direction in terms of time management and in terms of scoring. Right before Mayle’s go-ahead touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, Halliday found Cracraft on 3rd and 3 to put the Cougars in position to take the lead. During the Cougars' first scoring drive, Cracraft made two third-down catches to keep the team alive. Biggest surprises for the Cougars:
Daquawn Brown and Charleston White did a phenomenal job covering Utah receiver Dres Anderson. Because of the coverage, and a little help from the slippery rain, Anderson did not make a single catch all night. Anderson came into the game as Utah's second-leading receiver this season, in terms of receptions.
Safety Taylor Taliulu did not record a tackle in the game, and freshman Sulaiman Hameed played alongside Darius Lemora for almost the entire game.
WSU’s leading receiver Isiah Myers was held to four catches for 27 yards.
The Cougars didn't earn their first lead until the 4:58 mark of the fourth quarter, but they decidedly won the time of possession battle, 34:13 to 25:47.
Between Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow, the Cougars ran the ball for a season-high 104 yards against the Utes, who featured the fourth-best rushing defense in the Pac-12 in 2014. WSU's previous high was 88 yards against Portland State.
The Utes were allowing 2.9 yards per carry, and the combination of Morrow and Wicks averaged 5.6 yards.
Connor Halliday was held to 40 passing yards and an interception in the first quarter. He finished 39 of 61 for 417 yards, 4 TD, and 2 INT.
The Cougar defense didn't have an interception, but they also didn't allow a touchdown pass, either. The most productive player on Utah's offense was Devontae Booker, who ran for 178 yards on 24 attempts.
The Utes never made it into the red zone, but managed to score 27 points.
The Cougars didn't attempt a field goal against the Utes. They kicked field goals in each of their previous four games this season.
The Utes scored 21 points in the first quarter, but were held to six for the rest of the night. The WSU defense blanked Utah in the third quarter.
The Cougars stayed healthy despite playing on a slip-and-slide in Utah. No injuries were noted in the game for WSU.
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