FORGET THE FACT the Cougars are 1-9 for the first time in 39 years. And forget that the Cougar defense once again yielded more points than the Cougar basketball team typically does. Saturday's 31-point loss to Arizona was cause for celebration. The Cougars scored! And not just once, but four times. Yes., Virginia, there is still an offense on the Palouse.

Arizona's 59-28 beat down of the Cougars in front of a Dads' Day crowd in Pullman also marked the first time this season that WSU has beaten the point spread. The Wildcats were favored by 41.

Praise the Lord and pass the Johnnie Walker Red.

In a season of woe unlike any other in school – and, indeed, Pac-10 – history, the small victories are worth celebrating.

So when Cougar junior running back Dwight Tardy ran 18 yards to pay dirt a little less than five minutes into the first quarter, it was nothing less than cathartic.

For starters, that TD ended a scoring dry spell that spanned 10 quarters. More specifically, it spanned 159 minutes and 18 seconds. The Cougs hadn't scored a TD since Oct. 11.

Tardy's run was notable for another reason. It put the Cougars ahead 7-0, marking the second time time this season they've led a Division I-A school -- they also led Baylor 7-0 in Week 3.

No legitimate discussion of Tardy's heroics would be complete without noting that it was set up seven plays earlier by the Cougar defense, which sported a 3-5 alignment for the first time this season. Sophomore Cougar corner Romeo Pellum intercepted a Willie Tuitama pass on the Cats' second offensive snap of the game and returned it 32 yards to the WSU 44. The INT was the first of Pellum's career.

The Wildcats came back to take a 14-7 lead, but the Cougs responded – another rarity in this season of despair. Aided by a 15-yard penalty on Arizona and Chantz Staden's subsequent 16-yard kickoff return, the Cougars started their last drive of the first quarter near midfield. Second-year freshman Logwone Mitz, making his first career start, then took over with the stellar aid of his offensive line. He ripped off runs of 8 and 42 yards to get the ball to the Arizona 4 before Kevin Lopina barreled in for the score at the start of the second quarter. Wade Penner's PAT tied the score at 14.

If there weren't small favors, there wouldn't be any at all.

The rest of the game played out roughly as expected, with the Cougar D surrendering a ton of points and the offense committing too many turnovers and too many penalties.

Still, the Cougars managed two more TDs. They didn't pile up a load of yards -- just 208 to Arizona's 531 -- but they found they end zone. Finally.

And that, no matter how you slice it this season, is big-time progress.

As Cougar senior tight end Ben Woodard noted after the game, the Cougars made some plays. "Not enough, but we were having fun out there," he said.


• Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Toby Turpin, along with Mitz, made his first career start. That makes 26 Cougs who have made their first-ever college starts this season. Turpin is the ninth defensive player to register his first career start, and Mitz is the 17th player on offense.

• With 10 tackles, senior MLB Greg Trent became the 10th Cougar in school history to record 300 career tackles. Pellum also posted 10 tackles on the day.

• Sophomore safety Chima Nwachukwu recorded 13 tackles against Arizona to tie his career high vs. USC last season.

• Quarterback Kevin Lopina's four-yard second quarter touchdown and six-yard fourth quarter score were his second and third rushing touchdowns of the season. Lopina is the first Cougar quarterback to rush for two touchdowns in a single game since Ryan Leaf did it against Washington in 1995.

• Senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson caught four passes for 37 yards, extending his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 33 – 13th longest in the nation.

• Senior defensive tackle A'i Ahmu's third quarter sack was the first by a Cougar since Kendrick Dunn recorded a sack against Oregon earlier this season.

• With seven kickoff returns, Staden became the WSU single-season record holder. Staden now has 40 on the season passing Victor Wood (1988) and Sammy Moore (2003).

• The Cougars have broken the school record for most points allowed in a season. The old record was 460 in 1970. With three games left, they could put the new number into DiMaggio territory.

The Cougars travel to Tempe next week to take on 3-6 Arizona State, who beat Washington in Seattle on Saturday, 39-19.

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