The Washington State Cougars blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead to the Colorado State Rams, eventually falling 48-45 in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
WSU seemed to have the game in the bag late, getting a first down with just more than two minutes to play with CSU out of timeouts. But Jeremiah Laufasa would fumble the ball away after WSU inexplicably snapped the ball with 20 second left on the play clock, setting up a tying score for the Rams with 33 seconds left.
Teondray Caldwell would fumble the ensuing kickoff, making the game-winning field goal for Colorado State a chip shot as time expired.
The Cougs were led by a record-setting performance from Connor Halliday, who tied an NCAA bowl record with six touchdown passes and set a New Mexico Bowl mark with 410 passing yards.
The redshirt junior also tied Ryan Leaf's single-season WSU passing touchdown record at 34. But it wasn't enough.
Those sort of numbers didn't look like they'd be in the cards on WSU's opening drive, when Halliday threw behind Isiah Myers for a tipped interception. Fortunately for Washington State, it would get the ball back immediately when Nolan Washington ripped the ball away from a Colorado State receiver for an interception of his own.
Moments later, the Cougars would start their first-half scoring onslaught when Halliday rolled right on third-and-long to eventually hit freshman River Cracraft in the endzone for a 25-yard score. That was the first of many big plays for Cracraft, who finished with eight catches for 123 yards.
After Theron West, who got the start at running back for the first time in his career, blocked a Ram punt on the ensuing possession, WSU took over just four yards from the endzone. After a pair of CSU penalties, Halliday would hit Marks to put Washington State up two scores.
But Colorado State would pull closer in the second half after a 75-yard TD run from Kapri Bibbs, his 30th of the season. Big plays were an issue for WSU all day on defense, as the Rams also hit pass plays of 51 yards and 63 yards.
Turnovers, along with solid redzone defense, allowed WSU to keep Colorado State at bay despite the Rams outgaining the Cougs by more than 100 yards. Seniors Deone Bucannon and Damante Horton each forced turnovers, with Bucannon picking off a pass and Horton stripping a receiver.
What looked like the clinching score for WSU came early fourth quarter. On that play, Halliday found Isiah Myers down the seam for a 22-yard TD that capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive. But a number of mistakes down the stretch means the Cougs will fly back to Pullman with yet another losing record on the season.