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WSU defeats Oregon State, 31-24, behind second half offensive explosion

The Cougs scored touchdowns on all four of their drives.

Washington State Cougar football versus Oregon State on October 9th, 2021 in Pullman, WA. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

The Washington State Cougars extended their win streak over the Oregon State Beavers to eight games on Saturday with a 31-24 win that featured a second-half explosion of points unlike anything we’ve seen from the team under Nick Rolovich.

WSU improved to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12 at the halfway point of the season, while the Oregon State Beavers — who had been surging — fall to 4-2 and 2-1.

Trailing 10-3 at the half, the Cougs had four possessions in the second half and scored touchdowns on all four of them behind an explosive passing attack that saw Jayden de Laura rack up 230 yards after the break on 15-of-18 passing, including 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. For the game, he’d generate 399 yards through the air, a career best.

WSU would need all of those points in the second half, as the game turned into an unexpected shootout after a low-scoring first half that featured lots of mistakes by both teams. The vaunted Oregon State rushing attack got untracked, picking up 176 yards, but the Cougs came up with a trio of big stops.

First, OSU failed to convert a fourth down on their first drive of the third quarter on an ill-advised fake punt — WSU seemed to suspect something was coming, and the Cougars’ top corner, Jaylen Watson, was stride for stride with the receiver to ensure the pass had no chance. WSU answered by scoring to tie the game.

Then, on the next drive, OSU drove deep into WSU territory, but on third down, Derrick Langford made a great play on a pass to bat the ball up in the air, and Brennan Jackson hustled from his defensive end spot to pick it off for his first career interception. WSU answered by going 95 yards for the go-ahead TD on a 55-yard catch and run by Joey Hobert — his first career TD.

After trading TDs a couple of times, OSU had one more chance to tie the game. The Beavers got the ball back with just over 5 minutes to play, and they took their time methodically moving down the field. They started running up against the clock, though, and a bogus pass interference on Armani Marsh on 4th down with about a minute to go extended the game. But four plays later — after a sack, a tackle for loss, and an incompletion — WSU’s prevent defense tackled OSU’s receiver just short of the line to gain, and it was over.

The Cougs will face Stanford next week in Pullman. The Cardinal lost to Arizona State on Friday.

Quick Thoughts

Passing game?!? The Beavers have been solid against the pass all year. The Cougs have struggled to throw the ball all year. So of course, WSU would go off for nearly 400 yards passing as de Laura completed 70% of his attempts — both career highs. It was the best passing performance for the Cougars against an FBS school under Nick Rolovich. Maybe they’ve turned a corner?

Defense comes up big again: The yardage numbers aren’t pretty — WSU gave up 467 yards including a whopping 309 on the ground — but the Cougars came through where it counted: On the scoreboard. Like last week, that was due to some well-timed stops (Jackson’s interception at WSU’s 5-yard line, the 4th down with one minute left). Jake Dickert might really be on to something.

Probably time to start talking about running back: It’s been a foregone conclusion for some time that Max Borghi is the best running back to arrive in Pullman since forever, but ... there’s a pretty good case to be made at this point that he’s not even the best running back on this team at this point. Deon McIntosh rushed for 65 yards on 13 attempts for an average of 5 yards; Borghi picked up 33 yards on 9 carries for an average of 3.7 yards. Borghi looked more decisive in the second half, but when you take away his long run in the season opener against Utah State, McIntosh has been the more productive back.

Scoring Plays

Did You See That?!?

He Said What?

One Number To Tell The Tale

62.5% — Conversion percentage for WSU on third down (10-of-16), nearly double their season rate through the first five games. They had been one of the worst in the country at extending drives, but they outpaced Oregon State (6-12) in this one.

Game Stats