Nightmare in Pullman: UCLA Pulls the Comeback of the 21st Century!

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night the UCLA Bruins came into Pullman with a record of 0-3 to take on our beloved WSU Cougars who were 3-0.  WSU was favored to win this football game by double digits.  Wazzu Nation was wondering what the outcome would be as game time approached.  Perhaps 41-17 or 49-24 as predictions were popping up all over social media.  The entire country was soon going to find out what really was going to happen as ESPN began their live “After Dark” telecast and the face of our “beloved former Coug” Gardner Minshew appeared all over our television sets.  Minshew was in town for the game, perhaps a good omen for our Cougs!

UCLA won the toss and chose to kick off.  Anthony “Air” Gordon came out to take over the offense, looking to increase his NCAA leading totals threw the air.  A UCLA defense, that appeared to have many holes, had our leader licking his chops as he trotted out onto the field.  Gordon quickly threw an interception and UCLA quickly scored a few plays later to take the early lead.  It didn’t seem to phase Gordon as he quickly drove the Cougars down the field and hit WR Easop Winston with his first touchdown pass of the night to tie it up at 7.  UCLA would close out the first quarter with a 10-7 lead.

In the second quarter, “Air” Gordon went off!  He threw four more touchdown passes to WR Easop Winston (2 more TDs), WR Tay Martin and WR Travell Harris.  The only negative in quarter two was a 100-yard kickoff return to UCLA.  WSU went to the half with a 35-17.  The chances of WSU pulling this one out was looking good.  All of Cougar Nation was wondering if we would see the backups real soon in the game, perhaps early in the third quarter?

UCLA received the opening kickoff of the 2nd half and failed to move the ball.  Gordon moved his troops 80 yards in 8 plays, hitting WR Renard Bell with his sixth touchdown pass of the night.  With the score 42-17, would this be the end of the night for Gordon, or would he be allowed to tie Gardner Minshew’s record of 7 touchdown passes in one game.  How epic would that be with Minshew in attendance!

On the next UCLA drive, they were held to negative yards.  After a great return by Easop Winston to the UCLA 6-yard line, Gordon hit WR Dezmon Patmon for his record tying 7th tying touchdown pass of the night.  The stadium went nuts as well as Minshew from the sidelines, in fact nobody was happier than “Uncle Rico” as ESPN showed us from our television sets!

With just over 7 plus minutes to go in the third quarter and a lead of 49-17, WSU had this in the bag!  How can they not secure their 4th victory of this young season with a big road game the following Saturday night against Utah on the road.  The only remaining question was, would “Air” Gordon get the chance to break the record?

UCLA took over as a nightmare was about to hit Pullman!  No one, not even those across the country, would have thought this nightmare was going to happen.  UCLA scored 3 touchdowns over the final few minutes as WSU got sloppy and we went to the fourth quarter with the Cougars up by the score of only 49-38.

UCLA opened the fourth quarter driving down the field again as our beloved Cougars looked frantic.  As Coach Leach said in his press conference, his team “was frantic and they panicked”.  UCLA scored another touchdown and a two-point conversion.  WSU lead 49-46 with 14 minutes and change to go.  UCLA had rattled off 29 unanswered points in less then a quarter.  Were the Cougars about to lose their first game of the season?  They had nothing to answer UCLA’s surge, neither on offense nor defense.  It was like they had swapped uniforms with this explosion by the Bruins.  Nobody saw this coming.

“Air” Gordon took over on the ensuing drive as he broke Minshew’s record with a 33-yard touchdown pass to his buddy Easop Winston (Winston’s fourth of the night), his 8th touchdown pass of the evening.  WSU went up 56-46.  The problem was, there was still over 10 minutes on the clock.  The Bruins went to work.  Two minutes later they scored another touchdown as WSU’s defense looked as bad as they ever have.  Bruins completely dominated the line of scrimmage.  The Cougars seemed to forget how to tackle their opponent.  Just like that, the score was now 56-53 as it now turned into a basketball game at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington.

WSU failed on their next drive.  This time they had to punt.  All of us watching had that feeling, the feeling of something bad was going to happen.  We were right as the punt returner returned it to the house and the Bruins now led 60-56.  The epic comeback was now completed, or was it?

Just over 60 seconds later, “Touchdown” Max Borghi caught a pass and ran it 65 yards for the score, Gordon’s 9th touchdown of the night.  WSU led 63-60 as we all hoped that finally the momentum had changed.  There was too much time left on the clock as UCLA took over the game with six minutes left.

UCLA took over and they drove quickly down the field.  With less than 3 minutes to go and in the red zone, they failed to convert as WSU took over.  The Cougars had won!! There was no way that UCLA had a chance with so little time left on the clock.  Well, as history has shown us Cougar Nation, we have had our bad luck (others say that bad word which I won’t repeat).  On the first play from scrimmage, instead of running the ball with our star RB Max Borghi, they threw the ball for 14 yards to Easop Winston!!  Easop decided to put the ball on the ground and UCLA had the ball, WSU’s 5th turnover of the night.  Four plays later, the UCLA Bruins were in the end zone with the lead of 67-63.  The Cougars got the ball back with a minute to go but Gordon was sacked on the first play from scrimmage and fumbled it back to UCLA.  That was the football game.  UCLA, perhaps with the comeback of the 21st century, had come back to win a football game that they were behind 49-17 in the middle of the third quarter!!!  We don’t see that in college football, but apparently, we now do in Pullman.  UCLA picked up their first victory of the season, a game that the odds-makers had them losing by nearly 19 points.  WSU fell to 3-1 as Martin Stadium emptied out as they headed out to their homes hoping to forget this horrifying game, perhaps a nightmare for many!

Observations from this horrific defeat:

  • Despite the turnovers, Gordon is the real deal. He not only threw 9 touchdowns, but he broke the record of his buddy Gardner Minshew (Cougar Icon) who was in attendance.  “Air” Gordon was 41-61 for 570 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He did throw two interceptions and had a key fumble (one of the picks wasn’t his fault) but Gordon doesn’t deserve the loss with this amazing football game.

  • Easop Winston…… 4 touchdowns! 10 Catches for 114 yards but a big fumble.  Good game but can only give you a B- for your effort.  If you didn’t fumble, I feel we win.  Keep up the great work otherwise.  Gordon and Winston have a great relationship on and off the football field. 

  • RB Max “Touchdown” Borghi is a superstar in the making. Please give him the credit he deserves!  Max had 15 carries for 123 yards.  He caught 2 passes for 80 yards and a huge touchdown!  Borghi is an impact player and deserves the national recognition, perhaps more than his General Anthony “Air” Gordon. 
  • The Defense is awful. I don’t know how else to describe them.  They continue to miss tackles all over the field.  It wasn’t all their fault, but it was most of their fault.  Utah is our next opponent.  If we can’t turn this around, it will turn into a long season, a season we didn’t expect.
  • The team fell apart. I must remember that they are kids in college, but expectations were high this year, at least in my eyes.  The coaching staff must be held accountable for the team collapse, but I do agree with Coach Leach, his team panicked and look what the result was.
  • The offense is incredible because they generated over 700 yards. The defense gave up nearly 700 yards to an awful UCLA team.  Blame goes both to the offense and the defense.  Giving up 6 turnovers is unacceptable. 

Next up is the 3-1 Utah Utes on the road this Saturday night.  Kickoff is at 7pm on Fox!  Last week is forgotten so prove me wrong Washington State.  We all know that this football club is incredible.  Let us know what your predictions are @seattlesportsunion.com.  My prediction is Utah 41, WSU 45!

 

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.