The few thousand left in the rain at Martin Stadium watched Stanford Cardinal quarterback Justin Lamson take his 20th carry of the game a yard across the 1st down marker on a 4th and 1 to seal Washington State’s fifth straight loss, 10-7 vs the formerly 2-6 Cardinal.
WSU (4-5, 1-5 in Pac-12) now slides into a tie for dead last in the Pac-12 with California (who they play next week) and Arizona State, who beat them just last week. The once ranked #13 Cougs failed to even score 13 points against a team they were favored by more than 13 against. Stanford (3-6, 2-4) snaps their six game losing streak against WSU, their first win over WSU since 2015.
Achieving true rock bottom is a feat nobody saw coming. The echoes of the Paul Wulff era can be heard deep in this abyss.
With it being likely the last time WSU and Stanford meet for the foreseeable future, the offenses honored the past by turning the clock back nearly a full century. Seriously. WSU and Stanford have met almost annually since 1936 according to the WSU Athletics website. In the long history of WSU vs Stanford, this was the lowest amount of points scored in a game since 1942, a 6-0 win for WSU and the fourth lowest behind 1938 and 1939.
For those who missed the first half, you didn’t miss much. In a torrential downpour on the Palouse, neither offense could move the ball for more than eight yards on a play, resulting in six straight punts to open. The first drive not to result in a punt was a WSU turnover on downs inside Stanford territory early on in the 2nd quarter. After a fourth Stanford punt, WSU’s offense began to finally pick up some steam. Josh Kelly put things in motion with a 23-yard catch and run near midfield. Kelly hauled in another long grab after Cam Ward somehow escaped multiple Cardinal defenders in the backfield, escaped to the right and found Kelly 39 yards down field. Finally, #3 (Kelly) reeled in catch number three for the first points of the game.
Stanford got their best chance to score with short field position before the half, starting at WSU’s 46. However, on both 3rd and 4th and 1 inside the WSU 15, Lamson was stood up by WSU’s defense at the line of scrimmage on two QB keepers to hold the Cougars 7-0 halftime lead.
The ugly grudge match rolled into the second half as both offenses continued to look prehistoric. Even when WSU opened with some positive plays on their first drive on the second half, they threw it all away when Cooper Mathers juggled a first down grab into the hands of Stanford’s Scotty Edwards for an interception. Of course, this would be the spark the Stanford offense needed. Lamson capped a seven-play, 53 yard drive with a QB keeper from a yard out to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:55 to go in the third quarter.
As the third quarter rolled into the fourth, WSU again had something cooking. Ward completed a 3rd and 11 strike to Mathers to the Stanford 23 for a first down. On the next play, Djouvensky Schlenbaker took a carry nine yards to the Stanford 14. WSU’s offense would go no further. Back-to-back sacks on second and third downs sent Dean Janikowski on for a 43 yarder that he pushed wide to the left.
Holding Stanford to a 3rd and 8, Ashton Daniels bailed out the Cardinal, escaping out of trouble in the backfield and finding a wide open Elic Ayomanor 30 yards down field. On 3rd and 10, Lamson took another QB keeper for nine yards, setting up an easy QB power on fourth down for Lamson to keep the drive alive. Though WSU would hold the Cardinal to a field goal, it still felt like a dagger even with 5:56 remaining.
With a chance to go down and take the lead, WSU’s offense drew up a whole bunch of nothing. A 5-yard Schlenbaker carry and two incompletions later, WSU punted on 4th and 5 with 5:08 to go and never saw the ball again. Stanford did what it did best all night. Run the ball. On the final drive, Lamson carried the ball five times for 13 yards, including the game ending 4th and 1 keeper. Mixed in was a 3rd and 6 completion in the flats to Sam Roush from Daniels to keep the Stanford punt team off the field. Stanford outran WSU 75-4.
In their first four games of the season, WSU scored 183 points. Over this five game losing streak, WSU has scored 81. The sky has fallen and WSU continues to free fall in the crater it created. The floor for WSU doesn’t seem to exist anymore. What once felt like a season of destiny has turned into a rotting pumpkin of despair. As the Cougs limp to the finish line, they will need to go 2-1 in their last three games to keep their streak of seven straight bowl-eligible seasons alive with the game.
WSU is on the road next week to face the California Golden Bears at 1 P.M. on ESPN2.