PULLMAN, Wash. – Saturday afternoon was a fantastic day for college football on the Palouse matching Montana State and Washington State on the field turf of Martin Stadium. The Bobcats played solid defense and moved the football while the sun was up. Once the sun set, it was the Cougars who played their best defense and found ways to get some points up on the scoreboard.
When the scoreboard clock showed 0:00 left to play, above it shone the final score: WSU 23 – MSU 22
For the second consecutive game, WSU turned the ball over on their first play of their first possession. Rough start which was compounded when the second time the Cougars had the ball they turned it over a second time.
Costly mistakes limited Washington State to just 9 plays in the first quarter.
Coach Paul Wulff and his staff have molded a roster which consists of athletic, coachable, heady student-athletes. His football team could have folded up after another slow start, but that isn’t what this team is about. The guys suiting up in crimson and gray Saturday came to play 60 minutes of football.
Washington State used every precious second of game time to earn their first victory of this season.
No question Montana State Coach Rob Ash not only has a talented squad, they came prepared to win a football game. The Bobcats looked similar to the one a few years back that traveled to Boulder to defeat Colorado of the Big-12. For three and a half quarters, it appeared history would repeat itself.
Coach Wulff has mentioned numerous times his team is young and talented. It takes time to rebuild not just the caliber of players, but the expectation of winning. His team took a step in the right direction with this victory.
Washington State outside linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis said, “All week the coaches were preaching all they want to see us do is just fight and I think that was just a perfect example of fight.”
Consider this. WSU came back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win this game. The last time any Washington State football team was able stage a comparable comeback you have to go all the way back to 1984. That team trailed Stanford 42-21 going into the fourth and rallied to win.
Another statement about the character of this Cougar football team was made by sophomore safety Tyree Toomer. Rather than wear his No. 33 as listed in programs and shown in video clips flashed on the scoreboard, Toomer wore No. 15 against Montana State in honor of his teammate LeAndre Daniels who suffered a career-ending neck injury just prior to the beginning of this season.
As for what was going through Toomer’s thoughts when his team was down 22-7 he said, “I was 100 percent confident we would win the game.” He continued, “It just shows we can actually play for 60 minutes and keep fighting and we’ll like the outcome.”
How did WSU stage their comeback? The defense played aggressive football, putting pressure on MSU freshman quarterback Denarius McGhee.
McGhee gave to Cougs fits in the first half by using his speed to keep WSU on their heels mixing up passes with impressive scrambles.
Throwing a variety of blitz packages at McGhee forced him to throw three interceptions which fueled the Cougar comeback.
“…those were pressure interceptions where we got forced balls and we tipped them up. Those two (late) turnovers were very critical, obviously, to get ourselves back in the ballgame,” credited Coach Wulff in post-game interviews.
MSU Coach Ash was understandably frustrated by losing a game the Bobcats appeared to have won. “Getting close is not what we came here to do,” said Ash after the game. “…we came here to win and our guys are extremely disappointed that we didn’t win.”
“They played hard,” credited Coach Ash. “They ran the ball well. Their zone plays were tough and I thought some of their receivers made some excellent catches. This was an important game for them and they raised their level and played hard.”
Over 26,000 fans were on hand at Martin Stadium to enjoy a great college football game. As the final whistle signaled the end, those loyal fans on hand poured on to the field to share in the celebration of a Cougar victory.
Coach Wulff spoke for all of Cougar Nation saying, “Obviously we’re very excited we won the ballgame.”
© Lew Wright, Sr. 2010 – All Rights Reserved
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