JAMES WILLIAMS (Cougfan.com/Snook)

Standouts galore in WSU spring game, on both offense and defense and on both squads

SPOKANE — The Crimson team won big on the scoreboard, beating the Gray team 35-10 in Washington State's annual spring game at Joe Albi Stadium. Senior quarterback Luke Falk continued to look like a star for the Cougars, starting for Team Crimson and finishing the day 21-for-30 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. But the running backs and Cougar D also grabbed some of the spotlight.

While both WSU offensive units showcased the talent the Cougars have at running back and receiver, some defensive players shined as well.

Second-year freshman LB Jahad Woods (6-0, 216) had a good day for the Gray team, nicely breaking up a Falk pass intended for Williams at one point.

Meanwhile, senior defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale (6-3, 297) — who finished with two sacks — junior DL Kingston Fernandez (6-2, 262) and senior linebacker Frankie Luvu (6-3, 240) also did well getting pressure on Tyler Hilinski (6-3, 217) who finished the first quarter 9-for-13 but for only 44 yards. Junior DL Nick Begg (6-5, 260) was also a menace for the Crimson team.

With the teams mixed up between ones, twos, and threes, the Crimson seemed to start the day with the clear advantage of having Falk under center, as Hilinski (6-3, 217) was a little slow to get his Gray team going this afternoon, though he eventually finished 26-for-36 with 295 yards and a rushing touchdown (though none through the air).

A minor wrist injury kept senior running back Jamal Morrow (5-9, 200) out of the game, so junior Keith Harrington (5-8, 194) and sophomore James Williams (5-11, 192) took snaps for both offenses. And it was a banner day for the two Cougar running backs.

Williams finished with 10 catches and five carries for a total of 143 all-purpose yards, including a rushing touchdown. Not to be outdone, Harrington had 9 catches and 9 carries, equaling Williams’ total yardage of 143 hashes.

The day started well for Falk’s Crimson team, with sophomore center Frederick Mauigoa (6-3, 305) snapping to the senior QB using the simpler “dead snap” motion of gripping the cone of the ball rather than the laces — and looking calm and confident doing so.

Fellow sophomore Noah Osur-Myers also used the dead snap to Hilinksi — and did similarly well for the afternoon.

It did take a while, however, for either offensive team to really get going and start moving the chains. Credit to the Cougar defense, with the secondary providing tight coverage and a vanilla defensive front -- no pre-snap shifting -- getting pressure.

Hilinski started the next drive with two quick passes to senior receiver C.J. Dimry (6-5, 213). His third target to the senior dropped incomplete after good pressure from Crimson lineman Hunter Mattox (6-3, 286) forced a hurried pass to Dimry, who was immediately hit by senior safety Robert Taylor (5-10, 183) and popped the ball loose. Dimry would finish the day with six catches for 46 yards.

Falk’s first two targets were to WR Dezmon Patmon (6-4, 211) for a net gain of four yards. The Cougar defense swallowed him up on a 3-yard loss— with recently converted freshman defensive back Grant Porter (6-0, 184) leading the way.

But Patmon ended the day with seven catches for 69 yards, most of which came on a beautiful 43-yard catch and score from Falk to end the first half.

Junior Tavares Martin, Jr. (6-1, 183) quietly had a better day than the stats show (5 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD). Harrington had a pair of big runs in the first half, mixed in with a big 16-yard catch by junior receiver Easop Winston (5-11, 183).

The drive wouldn’t end with any points, however, as sophomore defensive lineman Nnamdi Oguayo (6-3, 229) sacked Falk for a loss that resulted in a fourth down and a "punt" for the Crimson.

When Williams joined Hilinski in the backfield for the Gray team, he was less effective, as the Crimson defense was solid all afternoon. 

Junior DB Hunter Dale (5-10, 195) and Luvu combined for a great hit on Williams to break up a short pass from Hilinski.

With the game still scoreless, Oguayo and redshirt freshman DB Zaire Webb (5-10, 169) combined to make a great play for the Gray team, containing Patmon in the backfield for a loss after a catch from Falk.

The first score came after Porter showed he's still learning his new position, getting called for interfering with Patmon. After a nifty Harrington run, Williams ran the ball into the end zone from the 4-yard line.

Hilinski’s next two drives were three-and-outs, as the secondary closed off all options for the sophomore and he was sacked by senior RUSH Dylan Hanser (6-4, 231).

In the second quarter, Hilinski had a little more success against a still very tight Cougar secondary, including a 40-yard bomb to sophomore Isaiah Johnson-Mack (6-3, 218) before Hilinski made the Gray team’s first (and only) touchdown by rushing into the end zone from the 6-yard line, bring the score to 14-7, but the lead would only widen for the Crimson after that.

Sophomore quarterback Trey Tinsley (6-3, 201) looked good in limited action for the Crimson team, finishing 11-for-17 for 139 yards, including a great 37-yard touchdown pass to senior slot receiver Robert Lewis (5-9, 170) to end the third quarter.

Sophomore walk on DB Hayden Schmidt (5-8, 170) ended the day well, picking off sophomore quarterback Anthony Gordon (6-3, 189) twice for the only Cougar interceptions of the day.

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