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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Halliday topples records in defeat

Gesser, Leaf among names tied, passed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – While the ending may not have gone as quarterback Connor Halliday wished, just about everything else went right for the Washington State junior on Saturday. His six touchdown passes tied the school record set by Jason Gesser in 2002, and also tied the all-time FBS record for bowl games.

The records didn’t stop there for Halliday. He finishes the season with 34 touchdown passes, tied with former NFL No. 2 overall pick Ryan Leaf for most in school history. His 449 completions and 714 pass attempts this season are each conference records.

“Connor played great; can’t ask for anything more from him,” receiver River Cracraft said. “He’s a great quarterback.”

Halliday finished the game with 410 yards while complet- ing 37 of 58 passes. He threw just one interception to go with his half-dozen TDs, and it came on his second pass. Each scoring pass went to a different receiver.

“I don’t really think too much about that,” Halliday said. “The bottom line, in this offense you’ve just got to go through your reads. Whoever is your first read, you got to look at him first. Whoever is the fifth read, you look at him last.”

The quarterback wasn’t the only Cougar to put up big numbers, however. Cracraft, a freshman, posted career highs of nine catches for 125 yards, his first time over the century mark. Cracraft, who was on the receiving end of one of Halliday’s touchdowns, tied the bowl record for receptions.

“I kind of had a feeling River was going to be special when the freshmen got here in June,” Halliday said. “He came out right away in 7-on-7 and made a difference. That kid just really loves football. He works his butt off and he grew up quite a bit today.”

In their final starts as seniors, linebacker Justin Sagote made a career-high 15 tackles while Nolan Washing- ton recorded his first career fumble forced and fumble recovered. Another senior, Deone Bucannon, had seven tackles, bringing the All- American’s season total to 114, the most by a Coug since James Darling’s 136 in 1996.

Buchannon’s interception gave him 15 for his career, third-most in school history.

The 35 points WSU put up in the first half were the team’s most since it played UNLV in 2011. The most WSU had scored in a bowl game was 33 in 2001 Sun Bowl.