PULLMAN – Gardner Minshew’s touchdown-to-interception ratio may have been a concerning statistic some other night, but on Saturday, against an opponent like San Jose State that didn’t seem to care for the quarterback’s gifts, the WSU signal-caller could probably afford to give a few.
Both of Minshew’s interceptions came when this was still just a two-touchdown game, but the graduate transfer’s defense did him more than a few favors in the home opener, conceding just 109 yards to preserve a 31-0 shutout against the offensively inept Spartans in front of an announced crowd of 26,141 at Martin Stadium.
After SJSU coach Brent Brennan touted the Cougars’ defensive backs during a midweek news conference, the Spartans hardly went at them during Saturday’s game, throwing just 25 passes after airing it out 52 times the week before in a loss to UC Davis.
In theory, the ground seemed like a more viable option for the Spartans. It wasn’t.
SJSU recorded 23 rushing attempts which only netted them 9 yards, in part because the WSU defense spent most of the evening loitering in the Spartans’ backfield and sacked quarterback Montel Aaron five times for a loss of 31 yards.
When Minshew did give the ball over to the Spartans, once in the first quarter and again in the second, they returned it four plays later. Both of the offensive drives that followed his interceptions were three-and-outs in a game SJSU managed just eight first downs, as opposed to 27 for WSU.
And Minshew, by the end of it, still did more than enough for his offense, passing for 410 yards on 34 of 51 for three touchdowns – two of which went to talented sophomore receiver Tay Martin in the first quarter. Minshew also flashed his wheels throughout the game, scoring on a read-option the final play of the first half in which the QB motioned a handoff to running back Max Borghi before pulling it into his own arms and running for a 1-yard score.
Travell Harris was Minshew’s most common receiver, hauling in six passes for 83 yards, while Martin had six for 68 yards and the two touchdowns.
The Cougars (2-0) improved their home winning streak to eight games and can bump that to nine on Saturday when they host local FCS foe Eastern Washington (2-0). – Theo Lawson
Q4 4:39 – WSU 31, San Jose State 0: Gardner Minshew slings his third touchdown of the night as the Cougars get on the board in the second half. Minshew, who threw for 75 yards during the drive, found James Williams out of the backfield for a 3-yard TD pass.
Tyler Hilinski’s parents take part in flag-raising ceremony prior to Washington State-San Jose State game
Tyler Hilinski’s parents, Mark and Kym, and brothers Kelly and Ryan took part in an emotionally-stirring moment before Washington State’s home opener, raising a crimson flag in the east end zone amid a chorus of cheers just minutes before the Cougars kicked off against San Jose State at Martin Stadium. Read more
Q2 0:00 – WSU 24, San Jose State 0: Gardner Minshew keeps it on the read-option and dives in for the 1-yard TD run as the clock expires on the first half. Minshew has three touchdowns, two through the air to Tay Martin and this rushing score. Minshew is up to 234 yards passing and 29 yards rushing. The Washington State defense has held the Spartans to just 23 total yards and two first downs. The SJSU offense has not crossed the 50-yard line.
Q2 5:48 – WSU 17, San Jose State 0: Blake Mazza makes his first field goal attempt of the game to extend the Cougs lead. The Cougars defense recorded their third three-and-out of the game to set up Mazza.
Q2 13:08 – WSU 14, San Jose State 0: Gardner Minshew has a pass intercepted for the second time in two drives. The pick came one play after Tay Martin nearly brought in his third TD grab of the half. After the officals had initially ruled Martin caught a long pass from Minshew, replays showed the ball hit the turf as Martin went to the ground.
Q1 4:45 – WSU 14, San Jose State 0: Gardner Minshew is intercepted on a pass up the sideline. After the Spartans caught the deflected pass, a fan ran onto the field near the WSU sideline and was quickly tackled by security.
Q1 5:45 – WSU 14, San Jose State 0: After its defense forced a three-and-out on SJSU’s opening drive, the WSU offense goes 85 yards to double the lead. Again, it was Gardner Minshew hitting Tay Martin for the touchdown – this time on a 35-yard go-route on fourth-and-10. Minshew is up to 114 yards passing.
Q1 12:55 – WSU 7, San Jose State 0: Gardner Minshew finds Tay Martin in the back of the end zone as the Cougars march right down the field on their opening drive, going 70 yards for the touchdown. Minshew completed 3 of 5 passes for 52 yards on the drive. Martin had two catches for 18 yards, including the 15-yard TD snag. WSU benifited from two SJSU penalties on the drive.
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