Easop Winston

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Anthony Gordon’s nine TD passes not enough as UCLA erases 32-point deficit, stuns Wazzu in 67-63 come-from-behind win

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Gardner Minshew was the talk of the NFL last week but, as he returned to Pullman for the first time, the quarterback watched as one of his records fell in one of the wildest #Pac12AfterDark affairs you’ve ever seen, an epic 67-63 UCLA win over his alma mater Washington State.

First, as to the record: Anthony Gordon, in his fourth career start, tossed his seventh touchdown on the night to give No. 18 Washington State a 49-17 lead over UCLA with 6:52 left in the third quarter; with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter, Gordon hit Easop Winston from 33 yards out for his eighth touchdown pass of the night.

That eighth passing touchdown broke the Wazzu record of seven set by Minshew in 2018.  Gordon went on to add a ninth scoring toss to pad his newly-minted record.

A funny thing happened between those seventh and eighth touchdown passes, though, as the Bruins scored four straight touchdowns of their own and, with a two-point conversion mixed in, cut what was once a 32-point lead down to three at 49-46; immediately after Gordon’s eighth touchdown pass, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson‘s three-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes remaining in the game cut Wazzu’s lead back to three at 56-53; with 7:31 remaining, Kyle Phillips returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to give the Bruins their first lead of the game at 60-56.

Gordon’s ninth touchdown of the night — the FBS record single-game record is 11 by Houston’s David Klingler in 1990 — came with 6:11 left and gave the Cougars the lead back at 63-60.  With a chance to tie the game with under three minutes remaining, the Bruins eschewed what would’ve been a 35-yard field goal attempt and came up short on a 4th & 5 to hand the ball back to the Cougars.

But wait, the Bruins weren’t done.

With 2:27 left in the fourth, and following a replay booth review, UCLA got the ball back on a Cougars fumble at the WSU 26-yard line.  Four plays later, Thompson-Robinson’s fifth touchdown pass of the game, this one from 15 yards out to Demetric Felton, put the Bruins up 67-63 with 1:07 remaining.

On Wazzu’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession, Gordon’s fumble was recovered by the Bruins to seal the win.

In addition to his nine touchdown passes, Gordon threw for 570 yards.  This was Gordon’s fourth career start, all coming this season; he’s thrown for at least 400 in each one of those.

Thompson-Robinson also threw for a career-high 507 yards while accounting for seven total touchdowns — five passing, two rushing.

No. 20 Washington State overcomes Houston to win Leach-Holgorsen reunion

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Of course a game between Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen would remain scoreless for the first 23 minutes. The all-Cougar reunion between Air Raid forefathers, who were together at Iowa Wesleyan when the Air Raid was born and popularized it together at Texas Tech, took a while to get going, but when it did Leach and No. 20 Washington zipped past Holgorsen and Houston, 31-24 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

After a scoreless first quarter, Houston started the second frame — literally, Washington State punted on the final play of the first quarter — and then took its time driving 82 yards, snapping the ball 15 times and eating 7:27 of clock, finally scoring on a 13-yard, third-and-goal strike from D’Eriq King to Marquez Stevenson.

The lid now sufficiently lifted, Washington State needed only five played and 117 seconds to answer, pulling even on a 39-yard strike from Anthony Gordon to Easop Winston, Jr.

Houston (1-2) then answered that answer with a 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Five of those seven plays were runs, including a 1-yard King sneak to put Houston back up with 2:27 left before halftime.

Washington State (3-0) threatened to pull even just before the break, but Gordon’s end zone toss was intercepted by Houston’s Gleson Sprewell with 24 seconds left in the first half.

That lead wouldn’t last long, though. A fumbled snap gave Washington State the ball at the Houston 44 to open to begin its second half offensively, and the Cougars quickly tied the game on a 1-yard Max Borghi run.

Washington State then took the lead for good on its next touch, racing 91 yards in only four plays, including a 39-yard scoring toss from Gordon to Dezmon Paton. After a Houston field goal, Washington State took control for good when Gordon found Travell Harris for a 7-yard score with 6:43 remaining.

Houston made it interesting again with a 12-yard King run with 2:21 to play, but its ensuing onside kick was recovered by Washington State.

Gordon completed 36-of-47 passes for 440 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, and in the process became just the third FBS quarterback in the past 15 years to throw for at least 400 yards and three touchdowns over the first three games of the season, joining familiar names Graham Harrell and Patrick Mahomes.

For Houston, King threw for 128 yards and a touchdown and rushed a game-high 17 times for 94 yards and two more scores.

The teams combined to commit 19 accepted penalties for 208 yards.

Houston leading Washington State at the half

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Houston has put No. 20 Washington State on upset watch, as the red-and-white Cougars hold a 14-7 lead over the red-and-gray Cougars at NRG Stadium in Houston.

After a scoreless first quarter, Houston started the second frame — literally, Washington State punted on the final play of the first quarter — and then took its time driving 82 yards, snapping the ball 15 times and eating 7:27 of clock, finally scoring on a 13-yard, third-and-goal strike from D’Eriq King to Marquez Stevenson.

The lid now sufficiently lifted, Washington State needed only five played and 117 seconds to answer, pulling even on a 39-yard strike from Anthony Gordon to Easop Winston, Jr.

Houston then answered that answer with a 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Five of those seven plays were runs, including a 1-yard King sneak to put Houston back up with 2:27 left before halftime.

Washington State threatened to pull even just before the break, but Gordon’s end zone toss was intercepted by Houston’s Gleson Sprewell with 24 seconds left in the first half.

King has carried Houston, hitting 10-of-14 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown while rushing a game-high nine times for 65 yards and another score. Gordon was 15-of-20 for 163 yards with a touchdown and a pick.

No. 25 Wazzu up big against No. 12 Oregon heading to halftime

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Gardner Minshew threw an interception on No. 25 Washington State’s first drive of the game against No. 12 Oregon, leading many in the frenzied crowd at Martin Stadium to wonder if the team had Coug’d it before they even could get going. As it turns out, there was nowhere to go but up on a wild day-turned-night on the Palouse.

Wazzu wound up getting back on track in a big way, bouncing back to the tune of a 27-0 lead at halftime and a growing national profile in the process as they look to take control of the Pac-12 North.

Minshew, the mustache-sporting grad transfer behind center, finished the half with 231 yards and three touchdowns on 36 attempts — one of which was a dime to Easop Winston just before the end of the second quarter that officially signaled upset alert. As is typical of Mike Leach’s Air Raid, the ball was spread around quite a bit to the tune of nine different receivers with a catch, including two tailbacks in James Williams and Max Borghi with six apiece.

The Cougars even got the ground game going, with Williams managing to break out of at least six tackles for a 24 yard scamper to the end zone that included him tight rope-walking along the sideline before diving past the pylon.

As a result of all that, Oregon QB Justin Herbert hardly looked like the guy many were touting as the top draft pick in the spring as he failed to develop much consistency on any of the team’s drives and finished just 4-of-11 for 36 yards in the half. Running back CJ Verdell did have 17 yards rushing but it was other wise four straight three-and-outs for the offense to open the game and go into the locker room in search of answers.

This game is far from other when you factor in both #Pac12AfterDark vibes and Leach’s penchant for throwing the ball at all costs so there’s still plenty of intrigue going on in Pullman. After a rough start though, the Cougars have to be feeling good about the direction the team is taking as their Pac-12 rivals suddenly find themselves in a deep hole with quite the fight on their hands.