Minshew Leads the Cougars to Homecoming Victory over the Utes

Saturday afternoon was homecoming in Pullman for Washington State University. The nation’s number 1 defense, the Utah Utes, were coming into town to take on the Cougars. Coming off a bye week, the Utes were looking to put an end to Washington State’s nine-game home winning streak. The stadium was filled with Cougar fans, ready to root their team on to victory. The Cougs were looking to go 4-1 on the season but they knew that they would have to play a complete game from beginning to end to pull it off. Utah, at 2-1, were the perfect ball-club to bring the Cougs and Gardner Minshew back down to earth.

Washington State received the opening kickoff. Things looked positive for the Cougars, as Minshew picked apart the “#1” defense of the Utes. He went 4-4 on the drive as he moved the Cougs down the field quickly. That luck ended as his next 2 passes went incomplete and in the hands of a Utah Ute player. It was the first time we saw Minshew look befuddled in quite along time. Utah quickly went on a 10-play drive that led to a touchdown. Wazzu couldn’t do a thing against the Utah running game as they kept running the ball up the middle against the smaller defensive line of the Cougs. Utah QB Tyler Huntley would eventually score on a 24-yard run as he went untouched. Minshew would respond and drive his team down the field that would lead to a TD pass to Tay Martin. Utah wasn’t phased as they would continue to run and pass at the Cougar defense as they would score another touchdown and close out the quarter with a 14-7 lead. The first quarter went to Utah, as they dominated the Cougar defense. The game was headed to a shootout and perhaps a blow-out by Utah as Wazzu tried to refocus.

As quarter 2 started up, the Cougars began to move the ball down the field. Gardner Minshew was his usual demeanor, making play after play with ease. “Uncle Rico” would drive down the field and would use his running legs to tie the score at 14 apiece. The Cougar D forced a punt on a 3 and out as Gardner and his offense looked to take the lead. Minshew didn’t disappoint. On the 3rd play of the drive, he threw a beautiful deep ball to wideout Dezmon Patmon who caught it and outran his defenders for a 65-yard touchdown as Wazzu went up 21-14. Were things looking up for the Cougars? Utah wanted to stop the momentum and they did by driving the field in 3 minutes and suddenly, the score was tied at 21 with lots of time left in the quarter. Both teams’ defenses tightened up as the score remained tied at 21 as both teams went into halftime wondering how to stop their opponent from the end zone.

As the teams came out to the field just before the 2nd half, Cougar fans were wondering if the Defense was going to turn it around. Did they have an answer to the Utes running game? After one half, they looked as if they had given up and were going to rely on their QB Minshew for the victory. Utah received the kickoff and proceeded to drive down the field once again into Cougar territory. The Cougars finally got to the Utes and held them to a field goal. Minshew and the Cougars drove down the field and were held to a field goal attempt of 52-yards. The field goal was blocked as Wazzu look mystified. This was the 2nd straight field goal blocked relating back to their loss last week against USC. Washington State was fortunate that this didn’t give the Utes momentum. The defense of the Cougars rose to the occasion as they shut Utah down the rest of the 3rd quarter. Utah defense did the same as after three quarters the score was 24-21 Utah as Cougar Nation was in shock.

The 4th quarter opened as the homecoming crowd rose to the occasion as they were trying to motivate their Cougars to come back and close this game out. We all know that Wazzu is capable of scoring quickly and often. Both teams had trouble moving the ball as it continued to be a defensive battle for both ball clubs. With just over six minutes left in the 4th quarter, Utah punted it to the Cougars. Kyle Sweet of the Cougars called for a fair catch at the Cougar seven-yard line, apparently not aware of where he was on the field. Most punt returners would have let the ball go, hoping it would bounce in the end zone for a touchback.

Down 24-21 with six minutes left and 93 yards to the end zone, Cougar nation was wondering if there was magic left in the arms of Minshew? After a completed pass to Tay Martin for 4 yards, Minshew went back to pass from his own 11-yard line. He threw the most perfect pass of his young Cougar career. As wideout Easop Winston was sprinting down the right side of the field, Minshew hit him about the 35-yard line and Winston did the rest. As he made the catch over his shoulder, Easop had to make a couple of sweet moves on the defenders as he sprinted nearly 65 yards for the touchdown as the Cougars took the lead. The homecoming crowd was going nuts. Wazzu knew it wasn’t over against a team like Utah. Winston told the media later that “he could hear the roar of the crowd and had only one thing on his mind, he had to get into the end zone”. After the ensuing kickoff, Utah made an amazing attempt as they nearly drove the field. It wasn’t enough as Utah turned the ball over on downs as Wazzu went into victory formation as time ran out.

Takeaways from the Cougars exciting victory over the Utah Utes:

  • Gardner Minshew continues to be the MVP of this football team. He is a true leader on the field. He was 31-56 for 445 yards and 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. It wasn’t his best stats in the completion department, but his receivers dropped at least 6 balls during the game. He made key plays when Wazzu needed them including a 10-yard touchdown run earlier in the ballgame. If the country hasn’t taken notice, wake up! Gardner Minshew is legitimate and it’s time that the media notices. Some say it’s the system that he plays in, Cougar nation and the West Coast know that it’s because of his leadership skills and his knowledge of the game. Minshew knows how to check off at the line, and he utilizes all his receivers.

  • The Cougar receivers made mistakes, in fact they made quite a few mistakes such as several dropped balls and missed tackles, but they also came up big. Easop Winston and Dezmon Patmon came up huge for the Cougars. Winston had 4 catches for 115 yards and Patmon 5 catches for 112 yards. A whopping 8 other receivers also made catches during the ballgame, but none were as big as Patmon and Winston. Tay Martin had 5 catches for one touchdown, but he quickly has fallen to the Cougars number 3 option for Minshew. Hopefully Tay Martin can turn his game around because all of Cougar nation knows how amazing he can be.

  • The Cougar Defense has a lot to work on, but they came on strong in the 2nd half when the game was on the line. Losing Skyler Thomas to the targeting penalty was a huge loss, but the team made up for his absence. Backup safety Deion Singleton had a huge night coming in for Thomas with 8 tackles. Captain Peyton Pelluer had an All-American night as he came up with 13 tackles and seemed to be all over the field in every play. He also came up with a huge 4th quarter sack to force Utah to punt in the 4th quarter (the following series by the Cougars was the 89-yard touchdown). Pelluer is the true leader of this Cougar Defense!

The 24th ranked Washington State Cougars travel to Oregon State next weekend to take on the Beavers in a 6pm game. Wazzu can’t take the rebuilding Beavers lightly because anything can happen in college football. Cougar Nation, we need to continue to support our fellow Cougars as they continue to excel in the Pac-12 conference. The final 2 months of the season are going to be fun with our own “Uncle Rico” behind the offense. Can’t wait until next Saturday.

Go Cougs!

 

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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.

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.