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WSU vs. Auburn update: Cougs trail 8-7 at end of 1st quarter

Connor Halliday started strong, but the last two drives have ended with interceptions.

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Openers on the road haven't generally been kind to WSU over the years, but the Cougars are off to a passable start against Auburn, trailing just 8-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The opening drive was clinical for the Cougs, with Connor Halliday picking apart the Auburn defense on 6-of-9 passing for 70 yards. But the drive also featured a pair of important running plays -- one a third-and-four conversion by Marcus Mason, the other a four-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Laufasa:

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The defense has held its own as well, limiting Auburn to just 68 yards as Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall has looked inconsistent in directing Gus Malzahn's offense. Following a huge punt to the 1-yard line, the Cougs came up with a stop on 3rd-and-2 from the 23, stuffing the Tigers for just a one-yard gain and forcing a punt.

But the following drive didn't go so well. The Cougs were moving the ball again, but a ball that was behind receiver Brett Bartolone bounced off his hands and into the the hands of an Auburn defender. With a short field, the Tigers would punch it in a few plays later, then convert the two-point conversion.

The Cougs would go three and out before the defense held Auburn, but the quarter ended with Halliday throwing an inexplicable interception, rolling to his right and heaving it downfield.

All told, Halliday is 12-for-19 for 119 yards and two interceptions. He looked excellent early, but shaky now.