From Tucson -- It took a trip to the desert for the Washington State football team to find its oasis. The Cougars ended a three-game losing streak that spanned five weeks by earning a 24-17 victory over Arizona (6-4, 3-4) in front of a partisan – though somewhat thin – Wildcats home crowd.
“It’s a positive,” coach Mike Leach said. “You talk about playing four quarters, you talk about finishing, in our case in particular I thought we did a good job of focusing on individual plays and not getting ahead of ourselves and not extending any anxiety on a bad play or celebrating a good play.”
The WSU defense allowed the Wildcats (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) just three points in the second half. After WSU quarterback Connor Halliday connected with Isiah Myers for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:15 left in the game, the Cougars stopped UA on four attempts inside the WSU 20-yard line. Quarterback B.J. Denker found receiver Samajie Grant in the end zone on the last play of the game, but the WSU secondary forced Grant to make the catch out of bounds.
Unlike their previous game against Arizona State, the Cougars (5-5, 3-4) got out to a hot start against the Sun Devils’ rival. Each team stalled on its first drive and then Halliday marched the Cougars down the field with back-to-back passes of 12 and 13 yards to Vince Mayle. Running back Marcus Mason capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run.
“I just want to start out by saying huge game by the offensive line,” quarterback Connor Halliday said. “To be able to run the ball for (101) yards – the sacks we had were coverage sacks, obviously, they gave me all day.”
The win gives WSU five wins for the first time since the 2007 season. Perhaps more importantly, it brings the Cougars to within one win of being bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. WSU last played in a bowl game in 2003.
Read the rest of the story in Sunday's Spokesman-Review or online.