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FINAL: Cougar WR Gabe Marks makes history as WSU rolls

THE TWO GREATEST WSU teams of the last 50 years -- the 1998 and 2003 Rose Bowl clubs -- didn't do it. But the 2016 Cougars, who began the season in such inauspicious fashion, have now won eight straight games.

The Rose Bowlers each had seven straight victories before falling in the 1931 Rose Bowl to Alabama. Next up on the 2016 milestone list is the 1930 Cougars of Mel Hein and Turk Edwards, who won nine straight.

On Saturday, after turning in another solid football performance in the first half, Washington State coasted through the third quarter before putting the pedal down to cruise past Cal.

WSU came out of the locker room against Cal to begin the second half of play with a punishing 75-yard drive to increase their supremacy on the scoreboard. Just minutes into the third quarter, Cal coach Sonny Dykes painfully glanced up to see his team trailing 35-7.

Dykes' pain continued as the Cougar D forced the Bears punt on their initial possession of the second half. Nate DeRider, who grabbed his first career interception in the opening half, delivered a disruptive blow to Webb with a sack for a nine yard loss that brought about a third and thirteen. The next play Wazzu put pressure on Webb who was left with nothing else other than simply throwing the ball away to limit the damage done.

The game slowed down following the WSU score just minutes into the third. The Cougs might have been feeling comfortable with a four score lead opting to limit their passing attack to short tosses.

With less than two minutes remaining in the third, Cal's offense came to life marching 62-yards to close the game to a three score margin for Washington State. As the clock wound down to end the third, Luke Falk had the Cougs on proceeding downfield toward the end zone once again.

Five snaps from Riley Sorenson and the Cougar offense was celebrating yet another touchdown reception by Gabe Marks. Falk lofted a near-perfect toss near the pylon which Marks cradled on one knee, looking up to see the official raising his arms to confirm the TD that put Washington State back up by four scores.

Well, four scores, less than a minute and 75-yards late the Bears clawed their way back to within three scores. Make no mistake, Dykes Bear Raid offense can light up the scoreboard.

With 13:00 minutes of Pac-12 football left, Wazzu needed to not just answer Cal's TD, they were facing an opportunity to show they can get the job done and close out a game.

Could this team hitch 'em up and put the Bears away? The answer was an emphatic yes, punctuated with a spectacular drive extending catch by Marks and a run up the gut by James Williams for the final twelve yards to pay dirt.

There might have been a little less ten minutes to play following a seventh Cougar TD, but the Wazzu winning bus had left the station.

You might think there was no much left for WSU to do. If that's the case, you'd be wrong. 

Gabe Marks became the all-time Pac-12 reception leader, passing former Colorado WR Nelson Spruce, by hauling in a high arcing pass from Falk for six points and a place in history. His 295 career catches are the most by any player in Pac-12 history.

Once Marks established his mark in the record books, all that was left in this game was to complete the stat sheet.

Falk finished the night going 36 of 50 passing for a total of 373-yards, five TD's and a lone INT.  River Cracraft led the Cougs with nine catches and three TDs, two of them in spectacular fashion. But Cracraft went down in the third quarter. ESPN reported he will have an MRI on Sunday.

FINAL: WSU 56 - Cal 21


When Kaleb Fossum returned a Cal punt in the first quarter 75-yards for a touchdown, the special teams scoring drought for WSU is officially over. Wazzu's last punt return to the house dates back to 2005 when Cougreat Michael Bumpus accomplished the feat. Last week Robert Taylor took a Arizona kickoff back 100-yards, something the Cougs hadn't done since Sammy Moore returned one for a TD in 2003. Coach Eric Mele has his unit not only getting the job done on kick coverage, the 2016 edition of Cougar football now has scored by way of a punt return and kickoff return. Special stuff indeed.

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