Thriller at the Alamo: The Legend of Minshew Ends on a High Note!

Friday night in San Antonio there was a College Football Game at the Alamo dome between two compatible opponents, the Washington State Cougars and the Iowa State Cyclones of the Big 12 Conference. The Cougars were slightly favored going into the contest after their 10-2 finish in the Pac-12 Conference, a feat nobody saw coming. It was also the end of a college career for several WSU Cougars including their savior QB, Gardner Minshew and their defensive leader, linebacker Peyton Pelluer. The two football teams didn’t disappoint the 60,000 plus football fans and those who watched the nationally televised game across the nation on ESPN. The outcome literally went down to the final few minutes, something WSU was used to this season, particularly QB Gardner Minshew.

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The Cougars received the opening kickoff. Cougar Nation was hoping there wasn’t no rustiness from this ball-club as they started the opening drive of the game. Minshew came out firing, completing his first three passes from scrimmage with running back James Williams fumbling the ball across midfield. The Cyclones recovered the ball as momentum quickly switched over to Iowa State. Iowa State was led by Freshman QB Brock Purdy, star running back David Montgomery and wideout Hakeem Butler. These 3 players would soon make an impact on the outcome of the football game. On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Purdy would throw the football deep only to have it intercepted by WSU safety Jalen Thompson. Just like that, 5 plays and 2 turnovers in the football game.

It didn’t change the momentum as the Cougars failed to move the ball and had to punt it back to the Cyclones. Purdy and his Cyclones quickly moved the ball down the field with Montgomery and Butler making some big plays during the drive. On the 9th play of the drive Purdy threw it into the arms of Cougar DB Marcus Strong who would return it 66 yards for a touchdown but wait! During the return, Strong made a bad decision and decided to taunt the Cyclone who was chasing him. The result ended up with the Cougars not getting the pick six but instead they had the ball on the 20-yard line of Iowa State. Cougar Nation was livid over the touchdown being overturned, wondering why the penalty wasn’t added to the kickoff. But it didn’t matter. Three plays later, Minshew found WR Renard Bell for the touchdown to put the Cougars up 7-0. The two teams would exchange punts to close out the 1st quarter, one that saw 3 turnovers between the two football teams and only 7 points scored. Nobody saw that coming.

Iowa State would start out the 2nd quarter with their three stars making an impact against this Cougar D. The Cougs would eventually hold and force another punt. From their own 12-yard line, General Minshew took over and drove the Cougars down the field in 13 plays. On the drive the Cyclones would lose their star linebacker who was ejected from the game for (targeting) a head-shot to Minshew. It didn’t affect “Uncle Rico” who would complete 8 of 10 passes on the drive that ended with another “Heisman-esque” (Gardner finished 5th in the Heisman voting) touchdown run of 7 yards to put the Cougars up 14-0.

Iowa State would counter that with a quick drive down the field, with their star wideout Butler catching 2 passes for 61 yards on the drive. Purdy would run it in later for the score to cut the lead to 14-7. After an incredible kickoff return by Travelle Harris, Minshew would drive his troops down the field. During the drive, the Cyclones would lose another key defensive player for targeting Minshew. The drive would end in a touchdown pass to WR Dezmon Patmon. With a little over a minute left, the defense of Washington State got a little soft as they let Purdy drive his team down the field, with RB David Montgomery coming up with most of the yardage. As the half ended, the Cyclones kicker hit a field goal to cut the lead to 21-10 as both teams went to halftime.

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The 2nd half of the football game started up with the Cyclones having the ball. The momentum stayed in their favor as they drove down and scored a touchdown by RB Montgomery. Wazzu’s defense was getting run over on the drive by Montgomery while the DB’s were getting burned by Purdy’s arm and the hands of WR Butler. After another punt by the Cougars QB Purdy led his Cyclones on a 14-play drive that took over 6 minutes off the clock. It ended in a field goal to cut the lead to 21-20. Minshew threw 3 incomplete passes on his next drive (with 2 being dropped by receivers) as the Cougars closed out the 3rd with another punt.

Quarter number 4 opened with Purdy and his Cyclones on another drive down the field. Fortunately, for the Cougs, the drive ended with a missed field goal by Iowa State. The lead remained 21-20. Cougar Nation remained confident because they had faith in their leader Minshew who had been “Russell Wilson-esque” in the 4th quarter all season long. On the ensuing drive though, he failed to move his troops. It led to another punt, the 5th of the ballgame (something rare for the air-raid offense of WSU). Two plays into the next drive, Cougar linebacker Peyton Pelluer stripped RB Montgomery and recovered the fumble on the Cyclones 30-yard line! On 3rd down, WSU WR T Martin showed up for the ballgame. He was the recipient of a 20-yard pass after an insane scramble from the pocket by Minshew. On the next play, Cougar star RB Max “touchdown machine” Borghi ran it in from 10-yards out tying a freshman record with his 12th touchdown of the season. WSU was now up 28-20 with ten minutes to play.

Both teams exchanged punts after that. Iowa State would go on a 5-play, 74-yard drive that led to a touchdown run by Purdy. They went for the 2-point conversion and failed. With the score 28-26 WSU, Gardner Minshew and his Cougars took over with just 4 plus minutes to play. On the drive of the season, Minshew would hit Patmon on 3rd down who made perhaps his best catch yet to secure a first down as the Cougars would go into victory formation and run out the clock. Wazzu had their 11th win of the season, their most ever in a season. Cougar nation was going nuts as their magical season was coming to an end with an 11-2 record an even though they didn’t win the Pac-12, they still had the best record and first bowl win for the Pac-12 this year.

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Takeaways from the Alamo Bowl victory by the Cougars:

  • Garner Minshew threw for a measly 299 yards on 35 completions. He was sacked two times and was under constant pressure most of the ballgame. So, he had not the best game of his WSU career, but he saved his best for last in the 4th quarter. A majority of his 14 incompletions on the evening were drops by his receivers. Minshew made some amazing scrambles that turned into incredible results. He led the team in rushing. We must note that he broke a Pac-12 record when he passed Jared Goff for the most passing yards in one season, an astonishing accomplishment. He also tied WSU school record for most touchdowns in a season with 38. We will never have a season like this again at WSU or a legend like Minshew. Thank you, Gardner Minshew, for easing the pain this season. It was a magical year, one that was like a script out of Hollywood. “Uncle Rico”, you will never be forgotten.

  • Senior LB Peyton Pelluer would close out his career with perhaps his finest performance. Peyton had 1.5 tackles for losses, 1 sack, 11 tackles. Pelluer made the play of the year perhaps when he stripped star RB David Montgomery with the fumble and he recovered it himself. Thank you, Peyton, for an amazing career and being an inspiration on/off the field at Washington State. Best of luck to you. It’s going to be fun watching you play on Sundays next year.

  • Iowa State had over 500 yards to Wazzu’s 300 plus yards. We all knew it would be a close ballgame. Iowa State has a good core of players on both sides of the ball. Hats of to the Cyclones who were in the ballgame until the very end. In the end, the Cougars made the plays when they needed to, and they came up with 3 key turnovers. The better football team won but hats off to the NCAA for pairing the Cougars with the Cyclones in one heck of an Alamo Bowl.

So Wazzu’s miracle season comes to an end. The Cougars weren’t expected to do anything, yet they proved everyone wrong. They never gave up all season long and played with heart and desire. WSU played for #3, who was rooting for his beloved Cougars from above. Gardner Minshew came into a program where nobody heard of him and brought tears of joy to the entire Wazzu Nation. He was the miracle that the Cougars needed. Mike Leach proved to all what an amazing job that he does. Having Peyton back for his 6th season with the program was not only inspiring, but also just what the defense needed to turn them around. He was the leadership they needed, something that was missing from 2017. James and Max were the best two-headed combo in the country. Thank you, Gardner Minshew, for 2018, the season we will never forget. 11-2 was an outstanding season.

There is no reason that WSU can’t compete in 2019 with 14 starters returning. What are your thoughts?

Thank you, Cougar Nation, for 2018. Happy New Year to all of you!! See you next year!

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.