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Difference makers: Defense, running game sets tone for Washington State in win over Colorado

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 21, 2017, 11:52 p.m.

Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) battles Colorado during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.  Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) battles Colorado during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
By Joshua Wright For The Spokesman-Review

Hercules Mata’afa

He didn’t end up with gaudy numbers – five tackles, one for a loss – but the junior defensive tackle set the tone by stuffing Colorado’s productive running back Phillip Lindsay on the Buffaloes’ first play from scrimmage. And on CU’s second possession, he forced a punt by wrestling down Lindsay for a two-yard loss on third-and-3.

Jamal Morrow

Washington State Cougars running back Jamal Morrow (25) loses control of the ball during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars running back Jamal Morrow (25) loses control of the ball during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The senior tailback led the charge for WSU on the ground, and he wasn’t too bad in the passing game, either. Morrow effectively put the game away with a 9-yard cutback TD run early in the third quarter and finished with 101 total yards (73 rushing, 28 receiving).

Jalen Thompson

Washington State Cougars safety Jalen Thompson (34) lands upside down after intercepting a Nevada pass in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars safety Jalen Thompson (34) lands upside down after intercepting a Nevada pass in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Thompson, the Cougs’ sophomore strong safety, set a career high with a team-best 10 tackles and recovered a late fumble. Though he didn’t have a pass breakup, Thompson helped make life miserable for CU starting QB Steven Montez in the first half.

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