A game winning touchdown drive with less than two minutes left handed Washington State (4-3, 3-2) it’s fifth straight victory of the Stanford Cardinal (3-4, 2-3). In what could be Nick Rolovich’s final game as the head coach on the Palouse, the team narrowly avoided another loss after a fourth quarter collapse.
Max Borghi gave the Cougs a three-point lead with 90-seconds left in regulation to cap off a six play, 67 yard drive. The offense took advantage of excellent field position, after a fortunate bounce on the punt, and a 47-yard bomb from Jayden de Laura to Calvin Jackson Jr. on the first play of the drive. A 17-yard pass to De’Zhaun Stribling put Washington State into the red zone, and Borghi punched it in.
Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee fumbled away his squads chance to tie the game on third and 13 with less than 30 seconds left in the game. It was the third straight play where the Cougars edge rushers had collapsed the pocket to get the quarterback. Despite being a major reason Stanford even came back in the fourth quarter, McKee is going to take a lot of blame for the final drive going pear shaped.
The fourth quarter collapse started when a phantom defensive pass interference call, on third and five, extended Stanford’s first drive of the final quarter. It was a horrific call on a play with minimal contact on a ball that was the definition of uncatchable.
At that point the air was let out of the team. The defense would surrender another touchdown on the ensuing Cardinal drive, it gave them their first lead since half time. It definitely felt like the game had permanently turned as WSU’s offense went three and out on its next two drives.
The second quarter was easily the best quarter the Cougs put together under Rolovich. Washington State started the quarter with possession, and four plays later the offense scored it’s first touchdown of the game on a 32-yard pass to Travell Harris. Harris’s touchdown was the first of three that the Cougars scored in the second frame. After a 31-yard bomb to Jackson Jr. tied the game at 13, Dean Janikowski’s kick was blocked; that kick felt huge in the fourth quarter when Stanford took a four-point lead with less than five minutes left on the clock.
Fortunately, the missed PAT ended up not mattering; and the offense’s ineffectiveness in the first quarter didn’t come back to bite it in the ass either.
Post game thoughts
- Man, that slightly over thrown pass to Jackson Jr. at the beginning of the fourth quarter felt so huge. If de Laura had taken a little bit off of the pass then the Cougars are back up by double digits and the pressure is still on Stanford. In the end, it worked out…but de Laura is going to have to reign those wide open passes in the future.
- Speaking of the sophomore quarterback, de Laura completed 17 of 30 attemps for 289 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. It’s really starting to feel like he’s figured it out as he’s just gotten better from week-to-week.
- Well hello, Max Borgi. On 17 attempts, he carried the ball for 89 yards with two touchdowns. This was easily his best performance of the season to-date and it’s something the offense has been missing.
- McKee hit explosive pass play after explosive pass play for the Cardinal. His biggest problem seemed to be the intermediate to short routes, which killed Stanford’s offensive chances. I still don’t know if that’s the result of defensive play or just a function of David Shaw’s offense.
Next up for the Cougs is their final non-conference match-up as BYU comes up to the Palouse for a 12:30 kick on FS1. I’m expecting the student section to be absolutely on fire on Saturday.
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Photo Credit: Washington State Football