PULLMAN – Just when fans began entertaining the unthinkable – a winless football season on the Palouse - Washington State's Cougars rose from the dead Saturday against SMU to play a spirited final 16 minutes of regulation that put a supercharge into the Martin Stadium faithful and sent the game into overtime. As in their last win here, Nico Grasu did the honors to cap off the improbable.

Grasu, splitting the same uprights that propelled the Cougs to overtime victory last November in the Apple Cup, did it from 39 yards out this time.

The Cougar defense – the same defense that seemingly couldn't stop the Little Sisters of the Poor – came up with three second-half interceptions and another on the first play of overtime to propel the Cougs to their first win of the season.

WSU 30, SMU 27.

Read it and smile. The Cougars, looking hapless for much of the day, refused to give up and sent the game into OT when Marshall Lobbestael capped an 80-yard drive with a short scoring aerial to Jared Karstetter with just seconds left in regulation.

Cougar defensive back Chima Nwachukwu picked off Bo Levi Mitchell on the first play of OT to put the Cougs on the glide path. His INT followed three others by WSU -- two of which, by Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Myron Beck, went for long TDs, and a third by Brandon Jones that foiled a late SMU drive that was shaping up to ice the game.

How improbable was the outcome? SMU led 17-0 at one point and produced nearly double the offensive yards of the Cougs -- 504 to 276, with the last 100-plus for WSU coming in the final five minutes. The Mustangs also held a 19-minute advantage in time of possession.

Lobbestael completed 24 of 52 passes for 239 yards, 2 INTs and 2 TDs. Paul Wulff told the Cougar Radio Network that he considered inserting freshman QB Jeff Tuel at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but when the defense changed the momentum of the game he didn't want to "upset the situation" in any way.

Dwight Tardy was WSU's top rusher, with 33 yards on eight carries, while Karstetter was the top receiver with five catches for 63 yards.

The Cougars' top tacklers were linebacker Jason Stripling and end Travis Long, with nine total tackles each. Long registered one sack and helped trigger Jones' interception with his pressure on SMU's Mitchell.

The Cougars now head to USC next weekend -- the first of six road games in the next seven.


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