Welcome back to one of our many weekly features. As you may or may not have guessed from the giant headline and photo, we have quite an unlikely winner this week. I certainly didn’t see it coming, and my guess is that many of you didn’t either, given how the first five games went for him.
There weren’t as many standout performances against UCLA, which probably helped his cause. What else helped his cause? You fine folks, of course. We’re nothing if not men of the people here at CougCenter, so ask and ye shall receive. With that, let’s get to the honorees.
Second Runner-Up: River Cracraft
Cracraft didn’t put up the stats he did at Stanford, but he still tied for the team lead in catches with six, and unfortunately didn’t credit for catching a touchdown pass because dumb rules. What he did do was make one of the best catches you’ll ever see, and it came at a good time.
WSU had just given up UCLA’s first touchdown of the game, and led by only a field goal. On the offense’s first play, Luke Falk threw a corner route that appeared to be thrown too far to be caught. Wrong. It was then that Cracraft did this:
The last two weeks River Cracraft has had a pair of ridiculous catches. https://t.co/BlVVlSV4vz— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 16, 2016
That alone is worth honorable mention.
1st Runner-Up: Dylan Hanser
Hanser didn’t have the greatest statistical game at first glance. Getting more time at Rush due to Logan Tago’s absence, Hanser collected three tackles, none behind the line of scrimmage. But anybody who saw the game knows that Hanser’s impact was immense.
UCLA was poised to move into WSU territory on its opening drive, until Hanser chased down a UCLA receiver and stripped the ball, which Peyton Pelluer recovered. On UCLA’s penultimate drive, they were once again threatening to move into WSU territory and possibly take the lead. I don’t think I need to tell you about the collective meltdown that would have occurred among WSU fans if they’d finished in the endzone. Instead, Hanser chased down Jordan Lasley and once again knocked the ball loose. Turnover. Ballgame. (pretty much) Outstanding job, Dylan.
Winner: Erik Powell
First off, I don’t care if Powell had made a kick all night. This may have won him the award anyway:
Normally, a guy who makes three extra points and a couple nondescript kicks (both from 36 yards) wouldn’t garner much attention. However, when you’ve been struggling as much as Powell has this season, getting that monkey off your back is a big deal. This is especially true with kickers.
As it turned out, those two Powell kicks were the difference in the game. Although Powell missed the final kick in the Stanford game last season, he’d made the five before that, which kept WSU in it. Like last Saturday, that contest was also played in the wind and rain. Maybe Powell just likes a good challenge. Congratulations, Erik. Keep ‘em coming.