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WSU 35, UNLV 27: tale of the tape

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS -- For the second consecutive week, Washington State escaped with a closer-than-it-should-have-been victory. But this one came against a considerably weaker opponent than Eastern Washington. We have our capsulated look at the game after the jump.

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OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- Connor Halliday made some mistakes, throwing two interceptions and forcing a number of passes into coverage that resulted in incompletions. But he was also effective and made up for his errors with big plays, throwing four touchdown passes and racking up 378 passing yards in his second career start.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- It has to be Travis Long, who recorded the Cougars' only two sacks -- both of them on third down -- finished with nine total tackles and had a key bat-down of a Nick Sherry pass in the fourth quarter.

PLAY OF THE GAME -- Halliday's 81-yard touchdown pass to Marquess Wilson in the second quarter. WSU was facing a 3rd-and-17 and UNLV had a chance to get the ball back and make it a one-score game. But Halliday hit Wilson perfectly in stride on a deep post route, and Wilson sprinted the rest of the way to make it 28-10.

STAT OF THE GAME -- Seven, as in the seven penalties the Cougars committed in the fourth quarter. And they were varied -- pass interference, holding, offsides, illegal substitution, late hit, horse-collar tackle.

ATTENDANCE -- 17,015, and at least 5,000 of those were Washington State fans.

QUOTABLE -- "We need to quit entertaining fatigue. I think we tell ourselves we’re fatigued long before we’re ever even actually fatigued. Part of being fatigued is a decision and everyboy goes out here and everybody’s tired. Big deal. Like the other guys on the other side aren’t tired? We’re jumpiong on the fatigue bandwagon way too quick." -- coach Mike Leach

WHAT WE LEARNED -- Unsurprisingly, this is a team still learning how to win. The offense was clicking better today, especially in the first half when it seemed as if WSU might pull away, score 50 points and turn this one into a laugher. Instead, they allowed the same kind of explosive plays that Leach has been harping against, they committed the same kind of penalties Leach has been harping against, and they failed to extinguish UNLV's hope when they had the chance -- and had the chance, and had the chance. They won the game, and that remains the most important goal. But the fourth-quarter woes have to stop if they're going to win many more.

NEXT UP -- A home game against Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 22. It's a 1 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by FX. The Buffaloes are trying to avoid an 0-3 start with a game at Fresno State tomorrow.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple




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