SAN ANTONIO – It’s all they talked about the last three weeks. Now, the 2018 Washington State Cougars have etched it into stone.
The winningest team in school history.
The Cougars captured an elusive 11th win Friday night in the Alamo Bowl, defeating Big 12 opponent Iowa State 28-26 in front of 60,675 fans at the San Antonio Alamodome.
WSU was targeting only one record ahead of its fourth consecutive bowl game, but a few others came as a sweet bonus.
The Cougars set a program wins record by hitting the magic number of 11. Quarterback Gardner Minshew became the Pac-12’s single-season leader in passing yards and completions, and claimed Alamo Bowl Offensive MVP honors after accounting for three touchdowns. Rookie running back Max Borghi tied Deon Burnett’s freshman record with his 12th touchdown of the season.
WSU won its second postseason game under coach Mike Leach and grabbed the Pac-12’s second postseason win in the last 12 tries.
Friday’s Alamo Bowl produced theatrics early and late.
Before either team could put points on the board, the Cougars and Cyclones managed to combine for three turnovers.
WSU running back James Williams had the ball knocked out of his arms on the fourth play of the game and ISU cornerback Brian Peavy recovered, giving the Cyclones possession at the 49-yard line.
ISU kept the ball for two more plays before giving it up. Brock Purdy misfired on a pass toward the sideline and Cougars safety Jalen Thompson intercepted the ball on WSU’s 40-yard line.
After driving 64 yards on eight plays, another ISU drive was capped by a turnover. Another underthrown pass from Purdy fell into the arms of WSU corner Marcus Strong, who caught the ball at the 29-yard line and ran it back 71 yards the other way. The pick-6, however, was negated by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when officials flagged for Strong for taunting.
The Cougars were still able to punch in the game’s first touchdown. Blown coverage in the ISU secondary allowed Renard Bell to break free into the end zone and haul in a 22-yard touchdown from Minshew.
ISU took care of its turnover problem, but the Cyclones committed a few more mistakes before the first half ended. A pair of ISU defenders – linebacker Willie Harvey and defensive end Enyi Uwazurike – drew targeting penalties after helmet-to-helmet hits on Minshew. Both were ejected and the Cougars capitalized twice, scoring on Minshew’s 7-yard scramble and then on a high 9-yard pass from the QB to Dezmon Patmon.
The Cyclones booted a 51-yard field goal to close the gap to 21-10 at halftime, then continued to chip away in the third quarter. ISU outscored WSU 10-0 in the period, with David Montgomery’s 8-yard touchdown run and Connor Assalley’s 23-yard field goal.
But the Cougars, sturdy in the fourth quarter all season, came up with one more key turnover.
Linebacker Peyton Pelluer, the game’s defensive MVP, ripped the ball out of Motgomery’s arms and the Cougars recovered on the ISU 30-yard line.
WSU punched in the decisive touchdown on the next drive, scoring on Borghi’s record-tying 10-yard run.
The Cylcones got into the end zone once more, on a 1-yard keeper from Purdy, but the Cougars smothered the ensuing two-point conversion. – Theo Lawson
13:37 – WSU 0, ISU 0: Washington State starts the Alamo Bowl with the ball, but fumbles on the third play from scrimmage.
James Williams had first down yardage after collecting a swing pass and eluding a few tacklers, however the senior running back dropped the ball as he was hit and Brian Peavy fell on it for the Cyclones.
13:00 – WSU 0, ISU 0: Two plays after turning the ball over, the Cougs take it right back.
WSU cornerback Jalen Thompson got a great read as ISU freshman QB Brock Purdy bootlegged out to his side. Thompson broke off his coverage and undercut Purdy’s pass to the sideline for the interception.
7:48 – WSU 0, ISU 0: Washington State comes up with its second interception of the game as Marcus Strong jumps a slant route and takes the return back 66 yard for a touchdown.
However, the touchdown was wiped out as Strong was penalized for taunting at the 5-yard line.
The king of high stepping a pick-6 into the end zone, Deion Sanders did not like the call:
6:55 – WSU 7, ISU 0: The Cougars offense finshes the job Marcus Strong started with his interception as Garnder Minshew hits Renard Bell for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
Strong’s pick and return set the WSU offense in the red zone and three plays later Minshew was able to connect with the wide-open Bell.
6:08 – WSU 14, ISU 0: Gardner Mishew shows off his fancy footwork to double the Cougars’ lead.
The WSU QB danced out of the pocket to avoid a sack and then scrambled into the end zone for a 7-yard TD run.
The Cougars went 88 yards on 13 plays for the score. Minshew went 8-for-10 passing on the drive, throwing for 52 yards. He is up to 124 yards passing for the game.
4:28 – WSU 14, ISU 7: Iowa State quickly responds to Gardner Minshew’s touchdown run with a TD on a QB scramble of their own.
Brock Purdy, flushed from the pocket by the WSU pass rush, was able to dive his way into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown run. The score capped a 69-yard drive that took just 1:42.
1:02 – WSU 21, ISU 7: The Cougars push their lead back to 14 as Dezmon Patmon hauls in a high throw from Garnder Minshew for a 9-yard TD pass.
The catch capped an 8-play, 62-yard drive for WSU, highlighted by ISU second ejection for targeting in the game.
ISU defensive lineman Eyoima Uwazurike was penalized for targeting Minshew on a first-down sack and was subsequently ejected.
12:11 – WSU 21, ISU 17: Iowa State comes out of the halftime break on fire, marching 73 yards on 7 plays to get the Alamo Bowl back to a one-score game.
ISU running back David Montgomery found the end zone for the first time today on an 8-yard carry on 2nd-and-goal. He ran for 34 yards during the drive.
13:15 – WSU 21, ISU 20: Iowa State’s Connor Assalley misses his first field goal of the game and the Cougs remain up by 1.
Assalley, kicking from the right hash mark, hit the right upright on a 49-yard attempt. He had made a 50 yarder to end the first half and a 23 yarder to finish a 14-play drive and pull ISU within 1 in the third quarter.
10:24 – WSU 28, ISU 20: Max Borghi finds the end zone on a 10-yard run and the Cougars extend their lead.
WSU quarterback Garnder Minshew set the Pac-12’s single-season passing yards record during the 4-play, 30-yard drive. Minshew connected with Tay Martin on 3rd-and-10 for 20 yards to set the mark.
The Cougars started with great field position for the drive after linebacker Peyton Pelluer took the ball from ISU running back David Montgomery while making a tackle.
4:02 – WSU 28, ISU 26: Brock Purdy finishes a 74-yard drive for Iowa State with a 1-yard touchdown plunge on the QB sneak.
WSU stuffed the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt to remain in the lead.
Purdy completed two big passes during the drive. First he found Chase Allen for 28 yards to get the ball to midfield. Then the Cyclones QB connected with running back David Montgomery for a 53-yard catch and run to the get the ball down to the WSU 1.
The Cougars will be flashing crimson and white in the Alamodome. WSU will be wearing crimson jersey tops and pants with white helmets.
Iowa State uniforms
The Cylcones will be sporting an all-white look for the Alamo Bowl with white helmets topping white jerseys and pants.
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