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2-Minute Drill: Inside the WSU nightmare

PULLMAN -- After a strong first half, the Cougars struggled to do anything positive in the second half en route to a shocking 24-17 loss Saturday against Portland State at Martin Stadium. We've got the misleading stat of the game, surprises, plays of the game and more.

CF.C player of the game: Gabe Marks

The return the to field was great for Marks, but not the Cougars as a whole. Marks finished the game with 76 yards and a touchdown that helped tie the game, 17-all, with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter. He had several crucial catches, including a 39-yard reception on WSU’s third drive to set up the Cougars’ first touchdown of the season.

Surprises:

Well, the first one is obvious: the Cougs lost. No, really, they did.  After being predicted to win by everyone (including me), Washington State came out and played decent in the first half, but failed to do almost anything productive in the second half. Missed tackles and missed opportunities on offense led to a horrible season opener.

Ah yes, the tackling issues. All week, the Cougs looked sharp and wrapped up or smacked guys pretty well. But in the second half no one seemed ready or able to tackle Portland State. Multiple players commented on the rain, but none would outright say the weather was the only factor contributing to the loss.

The last surprise is Peyton Bender made his Cougar debut, but it was late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line after Luke Falk was injured trying to get a first down near midfield. Bender did all he could, but tried to push the ball too much and nearly threw an interception on his first two plays. He didn’t, but on his fourth pass he was picked off to secure the Vikings’ upset.

Standout Stats:

• Washington State gave up 233 rushing yards, including a net of 149 yards to Portland State QBs (Alex Kuresa and Paris Penn).

• Marks led the way with six receptions, but was second in yards with 76. Dom Williams had five receptions for 86 yards.

• WSU as a team rushed 30 times for 104 yards, which is tied for the most carries since they rushed 30 times against UCLA and Eastern Washington in 2012. Specifically, the running backs combined for 96 rushing yards, 63 for Gerard Wicks and 33 for Jamal Morrow.

• Falk completed 27 of 41 passes for 289 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and no sacks. Bender finished 1 of 4 for 18 yards and the game-sealing interception.

Leading tacklers:

Jeremiah Allison had 12 tackles to lead the way for Washington State, including two for loss. Shalow Luani and Peyton Pelluer each had 8 tackles.

Misleading stat of the game: Time of Possession

In the first half, the Cougars’ offense had the ball more than double (20:27) the time PSU had possession (9:33). With a margin that wide, the Cougars should have had anywhere from 21-28 points. But they only had the ball for a little more than 9 minutes in the second half, ending with a total ToP of 30:12. Portland State had the ball for 20:15 in the second half and made the most of it by getting 24 points in the 2nd half.

Plays of the game: Gabe Marks on Game-Tying Drive

On the Cougars’ scoring drive, Marks had three catches that kept the momentum moving. But the plays at the tail end of the drive stood out. Marks caught a 6-yard pass on fourth-and-5 to give the Cougars a shot at the end zone. Then on third and goal, Marks caught the game-tying touchdown.

Injuries noticed:

Falk took a helmet to the hip and landed awkwardly on his shoulder. No announcement from Mike Leach other than, “He’s 100% healthy, like virtually all our guys.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Up Next:

Rutgers on ESPNU at 12:30 PT

Notable Note:

Players making their first career start; Gerard Wicks, Shalom Luani, Isaac Dotson, Darrien Molton and Ivan McLennan.


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