Homecoming heartbreak: WSU Cougars snatch a dramatic 41-38 victory on the Farm

October 29, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 29, 2018

A 42-yard Blake Mazza field goal with 19 seconds remaining lifted Washington State to a 41-38 victory over Stanford in the Cardinal’s homecoming game late Saturday afternoon.

WSU’s third straight victory over Stanford moved the streaking Cougars to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12. In losing consecutive games at Stanford Stadium for only the second time under head coach David Shaw, the Cardinal fell to 5-3 (3-2).

The Cougars trailed by two touchdowns, 28-14, after K.J. Costello threw a one-yard touchdown pass to sophomore fullback Houston Heimuli with 1:04 remaining in the second quarter. But WSU roared back; after recording a 23-yard Mazza field goal to close out the half, they went on to outscore Stanford 24-10 following intermission.

The game began, typically, with Stanford starting on offense. Atypically, however, Costello threw on the first two plays, the first time the team has done that all year. In fact, he went seven for nine on the drive, completing short passes to (in order) J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Trenton Irwin, Kaden Smith, Arcega-Whiteside and Smith again, and then Bryce Love. The drive featured just one run, a four-yard carry by Love.

The series ended with Costello throwing an 18-yard pass to Arcega-Whiteside, the longest of the possession, to put the hosts up, 7-0. This was only the second time in 2018 the Cardinal scored on its opening drive (they also did so against USC); it was also only the team’s third first-quarter touchdown of the year.

WSU came back with a six-play drive highlighted by a 33-yard throw from Gardner Minshew II to running back James Williams. On the next play, Williams had a five-yard touchdown run to tie the score.

Two snaps into Stanford’s response, linebacker Peyton Pelluer dislodged the pigskin from Costello’s hand; lineman Taylor Comfort’s recovery set up the Cougars at the Cardinal 23-yard line. Minshew thew on all five ensuing plays, resulting in a four-yard touchdown reception by running back Max Borghi.

On the third snap of the following drive, Love broke out of two would-be tackles en route to a 43-yard run, his second-longest of the season after a 59-yarder against USC. Five plays later, Cameron Scarlett’s two-yard rush tied the score at 14-14. The two touchdowns equaled Stanford’s combined first-quarter scoring production for the entire year.

After a series of punts — WSU’s offense was held to a pair of three-and-outs while the Cardinal offense had one of its own — Costello led a four-play, 66-yard drive that came exclusively through the air. The junior slinger completed throws of 20 and 36 yards to Smith, a junior tight end out of Texas, before adding a five-yard completion to Arcega-Whiteside. On the next play, with the pocket collapsing, Costello danced to his left and made a short throw to Smith, who turned went easily took the ball in from five yards out for a 10-yard touchdown. That gave the Cardinal a 21-14 lead, the first time since the UC Davis clash that Stanford had been ahead in the second quarter.

The Cougars then advanced to the Stanford 38. After an attempt to pull the Cardinal defense offsides on fourth down and two resulted in a false start by Washington State, the visitors punted.

Costello came out throwing yet again, targeting either Irwin or Arcega-Whiteside on the first five plays. (Two of his throws were incompletions, but these were negated by defensive penalties.) The eight-play, 80-yard series was capped by Heimuli’s touchdown reception.

Unfortunately, Minshew and his teammates were able to exploit the 64 seconds remaining in the half. Junior free safety Malik Antoine made an ill-advised attempt to knock away Minshew’s throw to wideout Jamire Calvin, who turned upfield and broke away from senior inside linebacker Bobby Okereke for a 54-yard reception. The Cougars weren’t able to score a touchdown, but Mazza’s kick as time expired would probe to be a factor in the outcome.

Washington State roared out of the locker rooms with a nine-play, 75-yard possession that saw Minshew complete all five of his throws for 56 yards. Borghi had a short carry and Williams ran three times, including a touchdown from the 3-yard line. That cut the Cardinal advantage to 28-24. The Cardinal resplied with a 40-yard kick by junior Jet Toner that restored their lead to seven points at 31-24 with 6:16 to go in the third quarter.

After each offense was held to a three-and-out, Minshew marched his team 82 yards on a 10-play series that lasted 5:01. The capper was a game-tying 7-yard scoring catch by wide receiver Davontavean “Tay” Martin with a little more than 12 minutes left in the game.

The Cardinal moved to the opposing 32-yard line but turned the ball over on downs when Costello failed to see an open receiver and checked down to Love, who was immediately tackled for a loss of one yard.

The Cougars capitalized on the opportunity with a 67-yard, 11-play series that culminated in a three-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Renard Bell. With 4:28 remaining, the Cougars held a 38-31 lead, their first since late in the opening quarter.

Stanford’s chances of claiming the Northern Division were seriously imperiled, but they hadn’t yet disappeared. Starting with a nine-yard pass to Love, Costello orchestrated a 10-play, 73-yard response that featured a quarterback run and two short carries by Scarlett. The junior signal caller from Coto de Caza, Calif., was five of seven on the drive, which ended with a 25-yard game-tying touchdown catch by Arcega-Whiteside.

But as at the end of the first half, Stanford had left time on the clock — a minute and 25 seconds, to be precise. Minshew connected with Calvin for 35 yards, setting up first down at the 32. A seven-yard reception by wideout Dezmon Patmon gave the Cougars an opportunity to eat up the rest of the clock, but they couldn’t advance the ball. Instead, Mazza hit a 42-yard kick with 19 seconds left.

Costello was able to get off completions of 7 and 19 yards to Arcega-Whiteside, but the Cougars were able to guard against the deep ball, and time expired to seal WSU’s dramatic 41-38 victory.


Helpful links

Washington State-Stanford team statistics — ESPN
WSU-Stanford box score
WSU-Stanford play-by-play
WSU-Stanford interactive box score — GoStanford.com
WSU-Stanford static box score — GoStanford.com
Stanford 2018–19 football roster
Washington State 2018–19 football roster
Game (and some other) tweets — @memomoment
First half video highlights — Newbrai

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