A little good fortune never hurt a football team, as WSU found out against Nevada. Sure, the Cougars were dominant. But on a third-and-8 from their 3-yard line, Alex Brink threw an incomplete pass – but it turned out the play was over before it started because of a false-start penalty. On the resultant third-and-9 from the 2, Brink hit Jason Hill on a slant that went for 47 yards. WSU turned that big play into a touchdown and a 24-0 lead. And you thought penalties were a bad thing.
Friday’s low actually came before the game, when one of three pre-game Green Beret parachutists crashed into the Mackay Stadium turf at terrifying speed. Dave Larson, having returned from Iraq just days earlier injury-free, broke a hip and an arm and had to be taken off the field in a cart. While neither team was on the field at the time of the incident, the skid mark across the turf where Larson was dragged by his parachute could be seen well into the game.
It’s hard to believe in retrospect that this game was scoreless nearly 12 minutes in. But until Eric Frampton’s interception return for a touchdown, WSU looked lifeless and timid – not that Nevada was doing much better. Frampton’s 36-yard score touched off an avalanche of Cougar offense, though. In 17:51, WSU scored 27 points to put away the game before halftime.
Michael Bumpus will remember this Nevada game for his school-record 87-yard punt return for touchdown, which also tied him for the WSU career mark with three punt returns for a score. That touchdown gave the Cougars a 41-7 lead. What some will forget, however, is that he returned two punts into Nevada territory in the first half to set up scoring drives. Those returns, while not as flashy, were essential as WSU built an insurmountable lead.
Stat of the day
In the first half, WSU’s average starting field position was at its 35-yard line. But the Cougars had one possession start on their 1. Without that, the Cougars averaged a start on their 43-yard line. In that same half, Nevada’s average start was at its 18.
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