Forward Progress

So, it wasn't a win.

But it wasn't a total loss either.

The Cougs scored for the first time in ten quarters. They had a lead for the first time since the clock ran out against Portland State. They battled. They moved the ball. They scored points.

The only thing the Cougs didn't do is defend, allowing the Arizona Wildcats to roll up 531 yards of offense en route to a 59-28 loss. The now Bowl-eligible Wildcats were led by Nic Grigsby, who scampered for 189 yards and a touchdown. Arizona finished with seven rushing touchdowns against the nation's worst run defense, and found the end zone only once through the air.

Still, WSU was able to keep the game in reach well into the second half with a revitalized offensive performance. Kevin Lopina passed for 94 yards and ran for two touchdowns. Logwone Mitz and Dwight Tardy added a touchdown each in the loss for the Cougars, their sixth in a row. Wazzu scored a touchdown in all four quarters.

Dwight Tardy took an option pitch 18 yards to the end zone to give the Cougs a 7-0 lead to open up the game. Arizona countered with two consecutive touchdowns, the latter of which being a 48 yard reception by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who broke three poor tackle attempts by Cougar defenders on the way to the end zone.

But the high-stepping Gronkowski drew a flag for excessive celebration and the Cougars converted the ensuing short field into a touchdown. Kevin Lopina took a bootleg four yards for the score, which tied the game at 14.

The Cougar defense fell apart from there, surrendering three touchdowns to the Wildcats to end the half 35-14 in favor of Arizona.

The Cougars did show some signs of life in the second half, however, with a goal-line rushing score by Logwone Mitz and another Kevin Lopina draw play touchdown. Those countered ten more points by the Wildcats and brought the Cougars to within 45-28 with 14:54 remaining.

The Dad's day crowd at Martin Stadium definitely wanted something to get excited about, and they got it as Arizona went for a 4th and 3 on the WSU 33 with 9:38 to play in the game. In front of the loudest crowd in Pullman since the Portland State win, the Cougars failed to get a defender within 10 yards of Gronkowski, who converted the fourth down with a 12 yard reception down the sideline.

The drive proved to be fatal for the Cougars. Arizona took 7:51 off the clock and scored once more to take a 52-28 lead. A Dwight Tardy fumble on the following drive led to a rushing touchdown by Wildcat backup Matt Scott. The 59-28 score would hold up to the end.

WSU backup J.T. Levenseller played once again, going 2 for 5 with 20 yards before having a pass intercepted in the end zone.

The Cougars finally showed some signs of competitiveness, something they certainly need as they prepare for the Apple Cup in two weeks. Still, there's a long way to go defensively as the Cougs continue to shatter the record they've already set for points allowed in conference play. But there's hope. Most of which still lies with the offense, who scored 11 more points than USC against a strong Wildcat defense.

 

CougCenter Player of the Game: Logwone Mitz, with 11 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Play of the Game: Dwight Tardy takes an option pitch from Kevin Lopina 18 yards to the house, giving the Cougs their first lead in Pac-10 play.

Stat of the Game: Despite having two more rushing touchdowns, Kevin Lopina falls to 0 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on 56.3% passing for the season.

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