2-Minute Drill: Cougs beat Wyoming behind D

PULLMAN -- After giving up two first quarter touchdowns, the Washington State defense slammed the door shut on Wyoming’s offense. Well, at least on the scoreboard. The Cougars finally showed a bend but don’t break style instead of the bend and eventually break floodgate.

CF.C player of the game: The Cougar Defense
After the first quarter, both my personal Twitter feed and the CougFan Twitter feed were blowing up with negatives about the defense. Was it warranted after the first frame? Absolutely. The defense surrendered 45- and 14-yard touchdown passes. That all changed during the final 46 minutes, partially thanks to the field-goal attempt Robert Barber blocked.

Peyton Pelluer, Shalom Luani, Jeremiah Allison, Darrien Molton and Hercules Mata’afa also deserve credit. The entire defense played well during the final three quarters, at least in terms of stopping Wyoming from scoring. But there will need to be some adjustments to keep better teams from getting into the red zone. On a positive note, Pelluer seemingly contributed on almost every play. He had a huge statement tackle on the kickoff that started Wyoming’s fifth drive. Luani had several big hits throughout the second half that made me wince, and he forced a fumble that Mata’afa pounced on (the first fumble recovery of Mata’afa’s career). Allison snagged his first career interception with 2:46 minutes left in the game to give the offense a chance to shut the door completely on Wyoming.

Surprises:
First, the Cougars held Wyoming scoreless in the final three quarters. Now, I know that some of you would say that should be expected, but shutting out any team for any duration of time is difficult. However, the Cougar D did just that when they stuck their heels in the ground and didn’t give up another score the rest of the way.

Second, Allison finally didn’t lead the team in tackles. As much as I am teasing, I’m absolutely serious. Having anyone get more tackles than Allison is a challenge because he is everywhere and does a little bit of everything. The other half of the surprise is Pelluer led the team in tackles. He was a force to be reckoned throughout the game.

Standout Stats:
The Cougars had 14 -- yes, 14 -- tackles for loss against Wyoming, which is tied for the third most in WSU history. The last time they did that was against Idaho in 2013. Pelluer had 3.5, Kache Palacio had three, and Ivan McLennan had three.

WSU racked up five sacks for the first time since last season against Arizona State, where they also had five sacks. McLennan had three and Palacio had two.

Luke Falk had 303 yards and two touchdowns, marking the sixth time he’s thrown for more than 300 yards in a game, and he now has 21 career touchdown passes.

Dom Williams snagged his 22nd career touchdown reception, which ties him with the legendary Hugh Campbell for third-most in WSU history.

Leading tacklers: Peyton Pelluer
Like I said, he was everywhere, racking up 14 total tackles.

Misleading stat of the game: First Downs & Time of Possession
The Cowboys had 22 first downs and the Cougs had 19. Now it doesn’t look like a big difference, but it sure felt like Wyoming was getting down the field whenever and however they wanted. Now, Wyoming did get plenty of yardage, but the Cougar D stopped them, or penalty flags pushed the Cowboys back.

Time of Possession: Wyoming led the way here too with 33:25 to WSU’s 26:35. But that’s what happens when you hold the ball, run the ball and get bitten by the zebras. Now, I’m not saying WSU didn’t do a good job, but there were a number of times when a well-timed flag gave the team a boost. Plays of the game: Jeremiah Allison’s INT, Shalom Luani’s strip
Allison got his first career INT and it helped seal the victory. The senior linebacker said he was smelling the end zone, but that didn’t quite happen. Dom Williams was able to cash in to give the Cougs a 31-14 lead. Luani stripped Tanner Gentry on third-and-29 as Gentry was running downfield. Now, the Cougs would have forced a punt, but possession at midfield is much better than getting pinned at the five.

Injuries noticed: Gabe Marks
Marks was injured in the fourth quarter with less than 8 minutes to play. No word on Marks yet.

Up Next:
At California, to face the Golden Bears on October 3 (two weeks away), time to be determined

NOTABLE NOTES
  • Pelluer’s 14 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss were career highs in both areas.

  • McLennan became the first Coug to record three sacks since Andy Mattingly’s four against Arizona State in 2007.

  • Keith Harrington’s 36-yard TD run was the longest run by a Coug since Rickey Galvin went 48 yards and the score in the 59-7 win over UNLV in September 2011.

  • Luke Falk recorded his second career rushing TD in the first quarter.

  • WSU won at home for the first time since defeating Portland State 59-21 on Sept. 13, 2014.


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