Washington State fell in a heartbreaker, 24-17, to Stanford on Saturday evening. The Cougars had a chance to tie the game at the end, but went backwards on their final two plays and the Cardinal escaped with the victory.
The Cougar defense played well throughout the game, and gave the WSU offense a chance to take the lead early. Jeff Tuel led the Cougs on an 11-play, 88-yard drive to put his team up 7-3 in the second quarter. Dominique Williams came to life on the drive, making a 43-yard back-shoulder catch and finishing the drive with a 3-yard touchdown grab on a fade route.
The happiness was short lived, as Stanford took the lead right back on another blown coverage from the secondary. Josh Nunes found Jamal Rashad-Patterson for a 70-yard touchdown strike to put the Cardinal up 10-7.
WSU struggled with clock management on a solid half-ending drive, but still manage to get an Andrew Furney field goal to knot the game at 10-10 after 30 minutes.
Stanford opened the second half with a long drive that was extended by an bad passing interference call. Ryan Hewitt scored from one-yard out to cap the near-seven-minute march to put the Cardinal up 17-10.
The Cougs were held down for much of the second half, and nail seemed to be driven in when Tuel telegraphed a pick-six to Stanford's Ed Reynolds with just under 11 minutes to play.
But WSU fought back, driving for a touchdown on the ensuing possession, capped by a 10-yard touchdown catch from Kristoff Williams. The Cougar defense would hold to five the offense one last chance to tie the game.
Tuel and his offense started from the 20, and had the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down and five. The Cougars would extend the drive again on a long pass to Marquess Wilson and an incredible one-handed grab from Bobby Ratliff.
In the end, the drive was stalled because the offensive line simply could not protect. Tuel may have been able to throw the ball away on the final play, but he didn't have much a chance to progress through his reads.
There are certainly some positives to take away from this game. WSU took a Top-25 team to the brink on the road. The defense is improving. The offense is starting to come around. Hopefully those strides will translate to victories down the stretch.