PULLMAN – For the second year in a row wearing their all-anthracite uniforms, the Cougars have won a premier Pac-12 game against a highly-ranked opponent at Martin Stadium.
One year after staving off No. 5 USC in Pullman, WSU dominated No. 12 Oregon in the first half and held on in the second to win their 11th consecutive game at Martin Stadium and their fourth straight over the Pac-12 North rival Ducks, 34-20 in front of 33,152 fans.
No. 25 WSU extended its Pac-12 win streak to three games and improved to 6-1, and 3-1 in conference play. The Cougars also won for just the second time coming out of the bye week under seventh-year coach Mike Leach. Oregon, which beat No. 7 Washington the previous week, drops to 5-2 and 3-2 in the Pac-12.
The Cougars were stagnant on offense in the second half until a late fourth-quarter drive saw quarterback Gardner Minshew connect with inside receiver Travell Harris for 37 yards on a broken play that moved WSU past midfield.
Harris was on the end of a pivotal fourth-down catch a few plays later and Minshew capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown strike to outside receiver Dezmon Patmon, extending the lead to two touchdowns and essentially sealing the WSU win.
In Minshew’s seventh game as WSU’s starter, the nation’s leading passer was impressive again, completing 39 of 51 passes for 323 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. His counterpart, Oregon junior Justin Herbert – considered the country’s top Draft-eligible QB – was only subpar, finishing 25-of-44 for 270 yards and just one touchdown.
WSU got on the board first, turning to a variation of the swinging gate trick play Mike Leach has retooled for the 2018 Cougars. Wide receiver Kyle Sweet snapped to Minshew, who put the ball in Williams’ arms and watched the running back wiggle through eight or nine Oregon defenders before hitting the edge for a 24-yard rushing touchdown.
The Cougars, meanwhile, put up a wall in front of Herbert and Oregon’s offense, which was averaging 482.9 yards coming in. In addition to being held scoreless in the first half, the Ducks managed just 39 yards of total offense, posted only three first downs and had four drives culminate with punts while the other ended on a turnover on downs.
Minshew extended the WSU lead to 27-0 before halftime, throwing touchdown passes to Renard Bell, Easop Winston and Max Borghi. On his 15-yard score late in the second quarter, Borghi caught a check down from Minshew, then evaded Oregon’s best defensive player, linebacker Troy Dye, before stepping into the end zone.
Herbert and the Ducks rebooted in the second half and scored on their first drive. The junior QB scrambled for a 6-yard touchdown run to get the visitors on the board, but the Cougars stiffened up on the next Duck drive and kept Oregon to a field goal that made it 27-10.
The Ducks kept coming, though.
Oregon’s Deommodore Lenoir intercepted Minshew for the second time and Herbert pushed the Ducks into the end zone for the second time and noticed a coverage breakdown that left Jaylon Redd wide open in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 10 points. – Theo Lawson
10:05 – WSU 0, Oregon 0: After a solid drive down to the Oregon 11-yard line, Washington State quarterback Garnder Minshew is intercepted by Deommodore Lenoir.
Oregon came with a blitz on the 3rd-and-9 play and it payed off as Minshew threw off his back foot and floated his pass over the head Tay Martin, who was running a shallow crossing route, and into the hands of Lenoir. The Ducks safety took the interception 10 yards to the OU 15.
Minshew completed 7 of 10 passes on the drive for 45 yards.
4:30 – WSU 7, Oregon 0: WSU coach Mike Leach digs into his bag of tricks and the Cougars take the early lead.
Running the infamous “Big Gulp Left” formation, Cougars running back James Williams took a handoff from Gardner Minshew and powered through the Ducks defense for a 24-yard touchdown run.
All six plays in the 68-yard scoring drive featured WSU running backs, with Williams and Max Borghi combining for four rushes and two pass receptions.
12:22 – WSU 13, Oregon 0: The Cougars strike again, this time through the air as Gardner Minshew finds Renard Bell open on a deep out-route for a 16-yard touchdown.
Minshew read Oregon’s safety blitz presnap and found Bell wide open underneath the soft coverage at the 5-yard line and Bell did the rest to beat the Oregon defenders to the pylon. Cougar running back Max Borghi did a nice job on the play of picking up the blitzer.
Minshew now has 142-yards passing for the game.
The PAT was no good after holder Trey Tinsley dropped the snap.
2:59 – WSU 20, Oregon 0: The Cougars punctuate an 8-minute drive with a touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to Easop Winston Jr..
Minshew, who completed all nine of his pass attempts during the 14-play, 65-yard drive, found Winston open in the back corner of the end zone for a 6-yard TD.
0:41 – WSU 27, Oregon 0: Washington State wraps up a dominant first half with 15-yard touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to Max Borghi.
The Cougars took over possession at their own 42-yard line with 1:43 left in the half and scored in just over a minute.
Minshew threw for 231 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in half.
11:54 – WSU 27, Oregon 7: Oregon comes out of the halftime break fired up and goes 75 yards on seven plays to get on the board.
On 4th and 1 from the WSU 8 Oregon QB Justin Herbert took it himself on the bootleg. Herbert completed four passes doing the drive and Oregon seems to have some momentum going.
6:58 – WSU 27, Oregon 10: Oregon is held to a field goal after going 39 yards in nine plays.
Adam Stack connected from 32-yards after Oregon got a little conservative with its play calling in the red zone. On 1st and goal from the 6 the Ducks called three consecutive running plays, netting minus-1 yard, before Stack was called on.
0:36 – WSU 27, Oregon 17: The Ducks stellar third quarter continues with Justin Herbert finding Jaylon Redd wide open in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Oregon outgained WSU 191-10 during the quarter.
The 11-play, 77-yard TD drive was set up by Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew’s second interception of the game.
6:38 – WSU 27, Oregon 20: The Ducks continue to chip away at the Washington State lead as Adam Stark hits a 23-yard field goal.
However, Oregon took 5:27 off the clock during the drive as they went 74 yards on 16 plays. The Ducks converted a 4th and 2 from the WSU 43.
3:40 – WSU 34, Oregon 20: The Cougars finally find pay dirt in the second half and could not have come at a better time.
With under four minutes to play and the Ducks rallying, WSU QB Gardner Minshew dropped a perfect pass into the path of Dezmon Patmon for the 22-yard touchdown strike.
The Cougars converted a 4th and 6 at the Ducks’ 34 to set up the scoring play. The TD pass was Minshew’s fourth of the game. All four have gone to different receivers.
The Cougars will be wearing all anthracite for this one.
The Ducks will be in white jerseys and pants with silver helmets.
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