Gabe Marks

Associated Press

Wazzu loses WR River Cracraft to ACL tear

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Gabe Marks is now the Pac-12’s all-time leading pass-catcher, and he’s going to have to continue catching even more balls if Washington State is to continue its 8-game winning streak.

The Seattle Times has confirmed a fan site’s report that senior wide receiver River Cracraft will be lost for the season to a torn ACL.

The injury came toward the tail end of one of Cracraft’s best games. He caught nine passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the Cougars’ 56-21 blowout of California with the injury.

In addition to having one of the most colorful names in college football, Cracraft teamed with Marks to provide one of the deadliest pass-catching duos in the sport. They’re the only pair in Pac-12 history to combine for 200 career catches.

Cracraft trailed Marks as the team’s leading receiver, but was a key cog in extending drives with numerous third down catches. He’ll close this season with 53 grabs for 701 yards and five touchdowns, and finish his career snatching 218 balls for 2,701 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Wazzu employs five other wide receivers with at least 16 catches but will have to make up for Cracraft’s, uh, craftiness in a hurry, as the 8-2 (7-0 Pac-12) Cougars conclude their improbable Pac-12 title hunt with Colorado and Washington.

Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks returning for senior season

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While a number of his peers, including a fellow Pac-12 wideout earlier this evening, are announcing their intentions to go pro, Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks is sticking around.

Marks revealed his intention to stay for a fifth season on his Twitter account.

Marks’ Cougars recorded the program’s best season since 2003, claiming nine wins, including a Sun Bowl victory over Miami on Saturday. As he alluded to in his note, Washington State was extremely close from winning the Pac-12 North. Only a 43-yard Erik Powell missed field goal as time expired — sealing a 30-28 loss to Stanford on Halloween — kept the Cougars from facing USC in the Pac-12 Championship.

The Venice, Calif., native ranks in the top 20 nationally with 104 receptions for 1,192 yards and 15 touchdowns. Marks caught eight passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns in Wazzu’s landmark win over Oregon, and snared 12 receptions for 92 yards and two more scores in a 27-3 stomping at UCLA on Nov. 14.

Washington State outshines Miami in snowy Sun Bowl

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The Hyundai Sun Bowl didn’t live up to its titular name, but Washington State and Miami provided the back-and-forth thriller we thought we’d see. As snow pelted the El Paso turf throughout Saturday afternoon — played simultaneously as the balmy Heart of Dallas Bowl across state and the comfortable Pinstripe Bowl in New York City — that the Bizarro Sun Bowl would be decided by Washington State’s 93rd-ranked defense.

Clinging to a 20-14 lead with 5:14 remaining, Washington State briefly saw Miami take the lead as Brad Kaaya tossed a go-ahead touchdown screen pass. But Hurricanes wideout Herb Waters was called for an illegal block, wiping the points off the scoreboard, and two plays later Miami running back Mark Walton fumbled and Wazzu defender Marcellus Pippins hopped on the snowy pigskin to end the threat. The Cougars took over at their own 4 and punted three plays later, which Braxton Berrios returned 20 yards to the Washington State 28 with a practical eternity (two minutes, 58 seconds) with which to work.

But again the Washington State defense stiffened.

Running back Joseph Yearby‘s halfback pass was intercepted on Miami’s next snap, and the Cougars consumed the final 148 seconds to secure a 20-14 victory.

Luke Falk led the Washington State attack with 29 completions on 53 attempts for 295 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His 31-yarder to Jamal Marrow opened the scoring at the 12:41 mark of the first quarter, and his 25-yard strike to Gabe Marks gave the Cougars a 17-7 lead with 1:10 to play in the first half. A 25-yard Erik Powell field goal as time expired in the first half pushed the lead to 20-7 and provided Wazzu’s final points of the day.

Only Walton’s five-yard run with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter dented the scoreboard in the second half, played entirely under ever-increasing snow flurries.

Brad Kaaya threw for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Berrios led the all rushers with 72 yards on three carries. Yearby added 14 rushes for 63 yards.

Jamal Morrow led Washington State’s ground efforts with 10 carries for 71 yards, and Marks concluded a stellar junior season by snaring five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.

The win was Washington State’s (9-4) first post-season victory since knocking off No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. Miami (8-5) closes the book on a lost 2015 season and rests knowing sunnier days are ahead — both in the arrival of new head coach Mark Richt and, you know, in the literal sense.

Wazzu’s Gabe Marks suffers gruesome injury as UW becomes bowl-eligible with Apple Cup win

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Washington State came into Saturday’s Apple Cup without prolific quarterback Luke Falk because of injury.  They’ve now exited it without Falk’s top target because of the same issue.

Late in the fourth quarter of No. 20 Wazzu’s 45-10 loss to Washington, Gabe Marks was on the receiving end of a five-yard pass from first-time starter Peyton Bender.  The wide receiver was also on the receiving end of an awkward tackle that bent his ankle in a way that God never intended and left him with what could very well be broken bones in the leg.

Marks was carted off the field and did not return.  There has been no update on the specific nature of the injury, although it appears that it may be serious enough to keep the junior from playing in the Cougars’ bowl game.

Coming into Week 13, Marks was fourth in the nation with 92 receptions and, with 1,067, is one of 19 players who have gone past 1,000 yards receiving.

And, to add scoreboard insult to literal injury, Marks’ fumble was returned by the Huskies for a touchdown.  That was the second of three defensive touchdowns for UW, with the third coming on Wazzu’s very next play from scrimmage on a pick-six.

The win pushed the Huskies to 6-6 and into a bowl in the second season under Chris Petersen.  The head coach just yesterday was awarded a two-year contract extension.

Three from Big 12 headline Biletnikoff Award semifinalists

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Three wide receivers from the Big 12 are among the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award this season. Baylor’s Corey Coleman, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard were among the 10 semifinalists for the award, which were revealed Tuesday morning by The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

The 2015 Biletnikoff Award Semifinalists

Fans are now encouraged to cast their vote to help determine the three finalists for the award. by casting a fanvote online by November 22. The top three receivers receiving votes will each be given one official vote toward determining the finalists for the award by the award’s national selection committee. The winner will be announced on December 10 during the college football awards show on ESPN. Former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard will announce the winner.

Last year’s winner was Alabama’s Amari Cooper. The last Big 12 player to win the award was Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, who won back-to-back awards in 2010 and 2011 to join Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree (2007, 2008) as the only two-time winners.