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Cougars take early lead on Cal thanks to Kaleb Fossum’s punt return

Washington State wide receiver Kaleb Fossum (83) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against California in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) ORG XMIT: WAYK110 (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State wide receiver Kaleb Fossum (83) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against California in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) ORG XMIT: WAYK110 (Young Kwak / AP)

PULLMAN – Washington State’s offense already had a lead when it first took the field during Saturday night’s game against California, thanks to punt returner Kaleb Fossum.

After the WSU defense forced the Golden Bears offense into a three-and-out to start the game, Cal punter Dylan Klumph sent a punt 48 yards to Fossum, who split the initial wave of Golden Bears tacklers and wove his way to the sideline, eventually scoring at the end of his 75-yard return.

“After watching film, we knew the middle would be open. Credit to the other 10 guys on the field,” Fossum said. “I just kind of ran straight. They gave me a huge lane and I just took it.

The score gave WSU a 7-0 lead just 1:12 seconds into the game. It also gave the Cougars some measure of payback. The last time the Golden Bears visited Martin Stadium, Trevor Davis had two kickoff scores in the third quarter of the game, which Cal won 60-59.

The play was WSU’s first punt return for a score since Michael Bumpus returned one 87 yards against Nevada in 2005. The WSU special teams have been making up for lost time in 2016 – against Arizona State Robert Taylor had the first score on a kickoff return since Sammy Moore did it in 2003.

Fossum’s great special teams play almost led to a special teams mishap, however.

“I kind of blacked out to be honest with you,” Fossum said. “I almost forgot I had to hold for the (extra point).”

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