HALFTIME: Cougs hang in with feisty Cardinal

JUST SIX DAYS after setting the Football Bowl Subdivision passing record, Connor Halliday struggled to stay on his feet as the Stanford defense applied constant, crushing pressure to hold an explosive Washington State offense in check and take a 17-7 lead into halftime.

The Cougars finished the half with negative-23 rushing yards to the Cardinal's 106, and also trailed them by nearly 200 total yards (332 to 133).

A menacing Cardinal defense put Halliday in a position where he couldn’t afford to sit back and read the field and had to get the ball out of his hands as fast as possible. That resulted in him being sacked twice in the half. Still, the defense was able to escort Stanford out of the red zone on its final two possessions of the half and keep the game within 10.

The barrage of hits Halliday took – including one after releasing the ball on his first snap of the night – forced coach Mike Leach to gamble on the offense on fourth down. Both times in the first quarter paid off as the Cougars picked up the necessary yards for first downs.

The Cardinal offense that struggled in last week’s loss at Notre Dame came out swinging, but the Cougars were able to hold them to a 22-yard field goal on their opening possession. Still, they added a 39-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Hogan to Eric Cotton on their next drive to take a 10-0 lead.

Washington State’s first big play of the night came at the 6:02 mark in the first quarter as Halliday connected with Vince Mayle for a 41-yard pass, but just two plays later, the Cougars were penalized for a false start.

Halliday immediately got to work, lobbing a 9-yard pass to Mayle for their first touchdown of the night.

The Cardinal struck again with 11:08 left in the half on a 3-yard pass from Hogan to Greg Taboda.

Xavier Cooper had a near-pick with 7:09 left in the half as he tipped the ball on third-down at the line of scrimmage, and the Cardinal was forced to punt.

And with just under five minutes to play, Taylor Taliulu forced the Cardinal’s fourth redzone turnover of the season as the ball popped out at the goal line and was recovered by Paris Taylor. The Cougars were unable to get anything going, though, and had to punt again.

Stanford made it into the red zone with just under two minutes to play, but a pair of penalties backed them up to the Washington State 36, and they were forced to attempt a field goal, which went wide right.

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