Cougars Get Revenge on Eastern Washington 2 Years Later!

The 2-0 Washington State Cougars went into their Saturday night matchup versus Eastern Washington looking for redemption from their loss against the Eagles in 2016. Eastern Washington came into the game with a 2-0 record, leading FCS in total yards per game at 623 yards per game. Gabe Gubrud, the QB of the Eagles, was looking to go 2-0 versus the Cougars in his college career when in 2016 he threw for 6 touchdowns in the 45-42 win over the Cougs.

Would history repeat themselves? How would the new and improved Cougs handle the high-powered offense of the Eagles. Both teams expected another shootout as the Eastern won the toss and kicked off to our beloved Cougars, a rarity for WSU who was used to winning the coinflip.

In front of a sell-out crowd at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WSU looked lost as they went 3 and out along with a false start on their opening drive. Behind QB Gabe Gubrud went to work in their very fast/no huddle offense. After gaining positive yardage, the defensive line quickly got to Gabe as he threw up a Hail-Mary interception to safety Jalen Thompson as the Cougs quickly begin to win the turnover battle.

In their 2nd drive of the game, Cougar QB Garner Minshew quickly drove down the field as he took apart the Eagles defense one-by-one. The offensive line was phenomenal as Minshew was throwing “dimes” as Cougar sideline reporter Jessamyn McIntyre gets credit for that. The drive ended with RB James Williams scoring from 1-yard out as the Cougs went up 7-0. Later in the quarter WSU went up 14-0 on a td pass to wideout Easop Winston Jr. from 14 yards out. As the quarter ended, one stat stood out that nobody seemed to mention. “Uncle Rico” was sacked by Eastern twice on one drive, WSU’s first 2 sacks allowed by the Cougar offensive line, an amazing statistic.

In the 2nd period, Eastern Washington’s QB Gubrud started to take apart the WSU secondary as he quickly moved the Eagles down the field. WSU’s “new and improved” defense held its own when they needed to as the Eagles just put up 3 points. On the ensuing kickoff, WSU’s Travell Harris took the kickoff and went 100 yards for the touchdown. With that jaw-dropping kick return, the Cougars quickly went up 21-3.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles took it 40 yards into Cougar territory. The Cougar defense held their own as they secured their 2nd turnover for the game, an interception by DB Darrien Molton. WSU took over on the 2-yard line and went on a 15 play/98-yard drive that resulted in RB James Williams 2nd touchdown of the ballgame, a 2-yard run as the Cougars went up 28-3. With the fans thinking the game was turning into a blowout, Gubrud put an end to that thought. They quickly drove the field in less than a minute and cut the lead to 28-10 as this remained the score into halftime.

As the 2nd half started up, WSU fans were questioning if this game was already over, or did the Eagles still have a chance after how quickly they cut the score to 28-10 before the half. Eastern Washington put that thought to bed as they drove down the field on the opening drive that ended in another touchdown pass by Gubrud. The Wazzu D completely looked lost as the Eastern Washington cut the lead to 28-17.

As the Cougars started their 1st drive of the 2nd half, QB Minshew must have had déjà vu as the team went three and out, just like their opening drive of the 1st half. Eastern Washington continued their successful run as they quickly moved down the field. WSU’s defense finally came together to stop them. As we all thought Eastern cut the lead to 28-20, there was a flag on the field. It resulted in them punting, downing the ball at the 1-yard line with the Cougars leading 28-17. Minshew, with his calm demeanor, didn’t seem to mind. They had a 98-yard drive earlier, what’s a measly one more yard. He quickly went to work and took the Cougs on an 8 play/99-yard drive!

The Cougs would increase the lead to 35-17 as RB James Williams secured his 3rd rushing touchdown of the ballgame on an 8-yard run. As we all felt that this was finally turning into a blow-out once again, Eastern Washington drove down and scored in less than a minute as the “new and improved” defense, looked lost. The Eagles cut the lead to 35-24. We had a ballgame as the 4th quarter was looming large. Minshew stayed calm and lead the team down the field. As the fans thought that Easop Winston Jr

had secured another touchdown on a long td pass and run, it was quickly brought back on a holding penalty. WSU ended up punting the ball back to the Eagles. QB Gabe Gubrud continued to move the ball on the Cougs. As the Eagles started to move the ball, Gabe threw his 3rd pick of the ballgame to LB Jahad Woods, a definite sports center highlight.

Going into the 4th quarter, kicker Blake Mazza hit a field goal to increase the lead to 38-24. It was still a ballgame as both teams knew that they could score quickly. Eastern Washington had trouble moving the ball as the “new and improved” defense stood strong and stopped them. Minshew would lead the Cougars to 2 more scores on a td pass to wideout T Martin and a 6-yard run by Max Borghi as Wazzu went up 55-24 as the game was soon over.

The defense stopped the Eagles with ease. In the end, backup QB Trey Tinsley came in for the Cougs and threw a td pass to Robert Lewis to seal the game. Washington State went to 3-0 as they claimed revenge on the Eagles with a 59-24 win in ballgame that was close until the 4th quarter.

Observations from the Cougars impressive win over Eastern Washington:

  • Cougar QBs combined to go 51-65 for 524 yards and 3 touchdowns. “Uncle Rico” Gardner Minshew threw for 470 yards on 45 completions. He continues to amaze all of this. Minshew looks like he’s played with the team for 4 years, yet it hasn’t even been 6 months. Minshew had 57 attempts which meant he missed on 12 times and some of those were dropped passes. He was a man amongst boys out there on the field, an MVP performance.

On the young season, he continues to shine. Minshew has the following stats:

  •  117 completed passes
  •  165 attempts
  •  1203 yards
  •  70.9 completion percentage
  •  7.29 per pass
  •  8 touchdowns
  •  3 interceptions
  •  144.5 quarterback rating

These are some quite amazing stats for someone new to the program.

The offensive line is insane!! They continue to amaze not only Cougar Nation but all of college football. Until Saturday’s 2 sacks they allowed in the 1st quarter (one was a coverage sack), Minshew hasn’t had to worry about getting hit by the opposing team. In this offense, allowing 2 sacks year to date is quite phenomenal. Minshew is an amazing QB, but they are a huge reason why he’s been such a success.

* We may have seen wide receiver T Martin finally have his breakout game of his young Cougar career. In the end he caught 13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Martin seemed to catch everything thrown his way. Martin, who seemed to have a knack for dropping passes, didn’t seem to have that problem Saturday night. The Cougars have an impressive group of receivers, but they need someone to stand out. Saturday night might have been the night Cougar Nation saw T Martin achieve status as the number one receiver on this Cougar offense. The kid had an amazing night that most of these kids dream of.

* Running back James Williams has 6 touchdowns already on this young season. Enough said.

* ESPN 710 and Cougar sideline reporter Jessamyn McIntyre deserves the credit long due. Besides her excellent sideline reporting, she was quick to report the status of RB James Williams after he was hurt just before halftime. She was amazing at keeping the fans informed throughout the game on social media and her excellent sideline reporting. Great job Jessamyn! We thank you.

The Cougars head to Southern California this Friday night to open conference play against the USC Trojans. WSU has had some success with “Friday Night Lights” games on national television. A big win over the Trojans would be an amazing start of conference play for the Cougars they could result in a 9-win season instead of a 5- or 6-win season. Game time is at 7:30pm Cougar Nation. Don’t miss an epic battle by two epic college football teams. I will be watching on ESPN.

Go Cougs!

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News Reporter
Brian joined the SSU in 2017 and covers the Everett AquaSox. I'm a graduate of Washington State University and I'm a die-hard baseball fan.