Despite the fact that the Cougars led for nearly 59 minutes of game clock, they could not overcome the fact that they gave up 29 points in the final quarter. Oregon overcame a 12-point deficit to pick up a 44-41 win on the road in Pullman, Wash. on Saturday after noon.
Washington State’s defense was forced to stop the Ducks offense after the Cougs went three and out with less than four minutes left — this included a missed facemask call on third and long. And they couldn’t do it as Bo Nix found Troy Franklin for a 50-yard touchdown. Nix kept it for the two point conversion to make it 37-34 with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter.
Ward was picked off by the defensive end and it was taken back to the house on WSU’s next play to make it 44-34 as the Cougars absolutely collapsed in the fourth quarter when it mattered most. Nakia Watson would score a touchdown at the buzzer and the Cougs kicked the PAT to get us the final margin.
Hands to the face of the quarterback will always be roughing the passer, and it cost Oregon’s defense as what would have been fourth and 18 turned into first and ten for WSU. Three plays later a fly sweep to Robert Ferrel from Ward gave Washington State a 34-22 lead. Ferrel’s touchdown capped a 12 play, 64-yard drive that put Washington State also ate up five minutes and 19 seconds.
Cameron Ward showed off some insane athleticism on a pair of plays, this included a situation where he flipped the ball to Nakia Watson as he was in the middle of being tackled. Watson then picked up the first down. A few plays later he spun clear of a sack to keep the play alive and keep the ball moving forward. It was the kind of plays, on national television, where Ward announced that he’s real and ready to rock.
On Oregon’s next drive, the Ducks picked up a crucial fourth down conversion when Bo Nix found Bucky Irving for 21 yards. It extended a drive that had appeared to be destined for a four and out. Five plays later Cam McCormick was hit for a wide open touchdown to make it 34-29 with 3:48 left.
The Cougars pushed their lead out to 12 when Ward found De’Zhaun Stribbling for a 15-yard touchdown pass to cap off a six play, 64-yard drive that was full of trickeration.
The trickeration included a faked jet sweep, and a faked pitch that helped the Cougars drive right down the field. WSU broke open the drive on its first play with an 18-yard wideout tunnel screen to Ferrel. What was remarkable was the fact that the offense attempted zero rushes and Oregon still bit on all of the fakes. It was masterful play calling by Eric Morris.
It took a mammoth 10 play, 84-yard drive for the Ducks to cut the lead back to five after a Jordan James touchdown and Lewis PAT. Where as Oregon had used big plays to stretch out the defense on its previous possession, this was a far more methodical drive. The longest play was 27-yards, a Nix pass to Troy Franklin. WSU did a much better job of defending the run this drive which forced more passes from the Ducks and it worked.
Oregon’s first drive out of the half started with a 55-yard bomb that was slightly overthrown, and cost the Ducks a touchdown, then was capped off with a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Ducks went for two to tie it but Mauigoa came up with the tackle to keep WSU in the lead. There was also an eight yard pass sandwiched between there as it only took Nix three plays to punch it into the end zone for the first time in the game.
A horrific interception call, that stood after review, ended WSU’s response drive. The ball was punched out after the wideouts knees were down, but because we couldn’t see if the ball hit the ground or not it was called a pick and stood on review. Fortunately the Cougar defense blew up Oregon’s wide receiver screen on the first play from scrimmage and the Ducks offense never got back on schedule.
WSU answered with a field goal by Dean Janikowski to make it 20-15. The Duck defense managed to buckle down in the red zone, including batting a pass back to Ward, to keep the Cougs out of the end zone. Even though the field goal pushed up the lead, it was still a deflating drive because they’d had what appeared to be an explosive touchdown pass to Stribbling called back because he stepped out at the 11thanks to contact.
A safety blitz put an end to Oregon’s follow-up drive when Nix was forced to get rid of the ball on third and seven. Oregon had only picked up one first down as their offense struggled to find any sort of consistency on the drive.
On the possession after the officials skipped down, the Ducks drove right into the red zone once again. But it ended when Nix was picked off on first and goal by Francisco Mauigoa as he read the quarterbacks eyes. The linebacker then it took it back 95-yards to the house to make it 17-6 Cougars.
Nix fell down after the pick and tripped up a Cougar defender to draw a below the waist block call, which is objectively hilarious.
Lewis would kick his final field goal of the first half when the Cougar defense, again, buckled down inside the red zone to make it 17-9 WSU. The Ducks’ offense was unable to stretch the field one inside the 20, and they couldn’t generate push either when they tried to run up the middle. That disappointing red zone possession had been set-up by a 42-yard pass that had forced the receiver to come back to the ball; if it had been thrown just a bit further down field then it would have been easy touchdown.
Washington State’s final drive of the first half really ended on a offensive PI call that came when WSU picked up a first down on a second down play. The offense never really seriously tried to pick up the yardage and just ate away the clock. Oregon got the ball back with 14 seconds and ran a few plays that ran it out half time with the Cougars up 17-9.
A Janikowski field goal capped off an eight play, 54 yard drive to push WSU’s lead up to seven. The drive had started off with the same sort of efficiency that the Cougs had on the first; but Oregon’s defense nearly got to Ward on back-to-back plays to force a fourth down. That’s when Washington State turned to its reliable veteran kicker.
The Ducks second drive was a lot like it’s first. A couple of big plays got them across midfield, which was then followed up by a 18-yard Whittington run that got them to the Washington State two. But a pair of questionable screen calls, that were easily blown up, led Lewis’s second field goal of the game. Oregon continued to struggle with the speed of Washington State’s defense as the field shrank.
There was no points scored for the Cougars on their subsequent drive. While they did pick up a first down on a scramble by Ward, it mattered not as the Ducks forced them to punt three plays later. Or it appeared to be that way; after the Ducks ran a play the officials reviewed the down situation and realized that they had skipped first down and that meant WSU had punted on third and 17. WSU got to replay it and punt it again in an absolutely batshit insane moment of officiating fuckery.
Washington State’s first drive of the game was capped when Ward kept the ball on a zone read and scrambled into the end zone from the five-yard line.
It was a clinical drive from the Air Raid offense that really didn’t show off any of the wrinkles that Morris has added to his offense. But it showed how far the transfer quarterback has come. He routinely found his targets and hit them in stride. The drive started off with a flea flicker that the Ducks almost blew up, but Ward was able to get fire off the pass with a defender right in his face and Bell was able to come back to the ball for the catch and the first down.
On its first drive Oregon snapped off several big plays to get inside the ten yard line, but the Cougar defense buckled down and forced a field goal from the right hash to make it a 7-3 lead for WSU. It seemed like the Ducks were going respond with a touchdown of their own but a false start on 2nd and goal forced them into a second and long. The Washington Sate defense blew up a pitch play to the left before it stuffed an A-gap run on the to force the field goal.