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Washington State leads Colorado at the half

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No. 22 Washington State holds a 17-14 lead over No. 10 Colorado at the half in Boulder.

Colorado struck first, stopping Washington State on the opening possession — the Buffs haven’t allowed a point this season on such drives — then moving 81 yards in 12 plays, culminating in a 9-yard Phillip Lindsay run.

Washington State added the next two scores — a 14-yard pass from Luke Falk to Robert Lewis and a 46-yard strike from Falk to Jamal Morrow — to hold a 14-7 lead through one quarter.

Colorado knotted the game midway through the second frame, a 3-yard dash by quarterback Sefo Liufau.

The Cougars see-sawed back in front on a 28-yard Erik Powell field goal, then survived a 1-yard punt late in the half when Davis Price sailed a field goal wide right with eight ticks left before the horn.

Falk closed the half hitting only 16-of-34 throws, but netting 248 yards and two touchdowns, while Liufau completed 14-of-25 throws for 183 yards.

Colorado holds a 103-64 rushing edge. The Buffs will receive to open the second half.

 

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.

UCLA offense nowhere to be found without Josh Rosen, WSU leads 10-0 at half

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UCLA is playing without quarterback Josh Rosen, who hurt his shoulder in a game last week against Arizona State. With Rosen out of action, the Bruins have been running the offense with Mike Fafaul. With Rosen out of the game, it has been up to the Bruins defense to keep this one within reach. Through one half, they have done that despite trailing Washington State by a score of 10-0 at the halftime break.

Washington State has been riding high the past few weeks with big wins against Stanford and Oregon, but the offense has been off the mark at times against the Bruins tonight. Luke Falk has passed for 125 yards but has struggled to get in a rhythm and has been picked off once. That interception came in the end zone (UCLA’s Jayon Brown came up with it). The only touchdown of the first half was scored by Gerard Wicks from the goal line for the Cougars.

UCLA’s offense has been locked down by Washington State as well. The Bruins have rushed for just 16 yards as a team, with Bolu Olorunfunmi leading the team with nine rushing yards on seven carries. UCLA is just one for six on third downs too.

The first half has been far from pretty, but fortunately, most people were probably too invested in a few other games going on at the same time (Ohio State and Wisconsin in overtime, for example). But we are now entering Pac-12 After dark territory, where anything can happen in the second half.

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.