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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Last-second wins, routs, heartbreaking defeats all part of Saturday’s overcrowded sporting landscape

Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi (21) reacts after scoring the game winning touchdown during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 54-53. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi (21) reacts after scoring the game winning touchdown during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 54-53. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • One of the best attributes my all-time favorite baseball announcer, Vin Scully, possessed was knowing when to shut up and let the crowd do the talking. We are following his example this morning and letting the crowd of stories scream.


• Before we do, however, like any good play-by-play voice, we have to set the scene.

– The Cougars won for the sixth time this season, though the 54-53 “rout” of Oregon State came with a price. Mainly, the sanity of those of us watching. In the course of about 45 minutes, there seemed no way for WSU to lose, no way for the Cougars to win and, thanks to a failed Oregon State fourth-down attempt, a wild, wacky, wobbly last minute of play.

– It was a perfect day in the area for college sports. On the football field, Eastern Washington held off Portland State and Idaho won on the road. In basketball, every one of our area’s four, four-year schools picked up wins, all by big margins.

– The day wasn’t as kind to area high school football teams, with Coeur d’Alene falling in the Idaho 5A title game in double overtime – playing some eight miles east, the Viks and Rigby actually outscored WSU and OSU – and Mt. Spokane lost a 10-3 State 3A quarterfinal to top-ranked O’Dea.

– Gonzaga played its last home basketball game for a while, and what looks to be its last overmatched foe for the same time period. The Zags head to the Bahamas for a Thanksgiving tournament, one that will determine their national profile heading into December.

– The dreaded 10 a.m. kick looms for the Seahawks today but something that may loom even larger is the health of Jadeveon Clowney. The defensive lineman, who has wrecked offenses recently, is a game-time decision due to a bum hip. I say that about myself every day.

That’s it. That’s all we got. Except about a million links. OK, not that many. But 31 from the S-R staff and a whole bunch from all over the West.


WSU: If Theo Lawson had to rewrite as many times as I did, bless him. The back-and-forth nature of the fourth quarter wasn’t easy on people who pound a keyboard for a living. Theo has his game analysis, the difference makers, a great story on the Hilinskis’ visit to Pullman and news on another defensive back being dismissed from the team. … John Blanchette was in Pullman as well and he has his column, focusing on Max Borghi and his guarantee. … Dan Thompson filled the holes with stories on Anthony Gordon’s record-setting performance, Deon McIntosh’s breakout one and Brandon Arconado’s absence for a while. … Tyler Tjomsland had the sideline duty and he has this photo gallery. … The folks in the office kept everyone updated with this recap that also featured highlights. … Finally, I watched on TV and wrote and wrote and wrote. I threw much of it away before I sent it in. Maybe I’ll post it someday. For, you know, posterity. … It's hard to believe any Oregon State fan will want to save memories of this game for posterity. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the conference has enough bowl-eligible (I'm beginning to despise that term) teams. … The Apple Cup next week will feature one team coming off a last-second win and another coming off a stunning domination. The latter is Washington and the Huskies were the ones dominated, by Colorado of all schools. The Buffs have turned around what looked to have been an awful season. … The biggest loss for the conference came in the desert, where Oregon's national hopes died once again. This time the Duck defense fell apart late as Arizona State pulled off a 31-28 upset. … The Big Game turned out to be really big for California, which not only ended a nine-game rivalry losing streak but became bowl eligible as well. Stanford is staying home for the first time in a long time. … Utah won handily over host Arizona, but Oregon's loss also hurts the Utes' chances for a CFP berth. The Wildcats were dominated in every phase. … Yes, USC won the battle for L.A., routing cross-town rival UCLA. But many Trojan fans may believe the win will have long-term consequences. For the Bruins, it's back to the playbook drawing board.

Gonzaga: It was sort of empty in the GU press area last night, as Jim Meehan had to sit alone. He has his game analysis and the three keys to the win. … Dan Pelle roamed the baselines and put together this photo gallery. … Back in the office, the folks did double duty with this recap. … Around the WCC, Pacific fell in triple overtime to visiting Boise State. … USF remains undefeated after defeating Sam Houston State. … Pepperdine lost at home to Sacramento State.

EWU: The Eagles ended the season with four consecutive wins, but there is little chance they’ll be asked to the FCS playoff dance this year. Ryan Collingwood has the coverage of the fourth straight win, 53-46 over Portland State, with a game story and a notebook. … James Snook added a photo gallery. … The men’s basketball team earned a split of its Northeast road trip. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana State won the Brawl for the fourth consecutive time, this season routing visiting Montana in what would have to be considered an upset if just for the 48-14 score. … Weber State won the conference title again with an easy win over Idaho State. … Sacramento State took a piece of the top spot by handling rival UC Davis. … Cal Poly topped woeful Northern Colorado…. In basketball, Portland State picked up a win over San Jose State.

Idaho: Mason Petrino had a record-setting day and the Vandals picked up a wild, 60-53 overtime win in Flagstaff over Northern Arizona. … The men’s basketball team routed visiting Walla Walla University. Peter Harriman was in Memorial Gym and has the story.

Whitworth: The Pirates bounced back from their first loss of the season and defeated Coe College in St. Louis.

CCS: The volleyball team is one win away from a second consecutive NWAC title.

Preps: Speaking of second consecutive volleyball titles, that’s exactly what Mt. Spokane earned yesterday in Yakima in the 3A ranks. Dave Nichols has the coverage. … The Wildcats’ football team didn’t fare as well. That result is included in this roundup. … Neither did Coeur d’Alene. Peter Harriman has the coverage of their heartbreaking finals’ defeat. … A couple of local schools won 2B/1B soccer titles.

Cross country: All levels of the NCAA cross country championships Saturday included runners from the Inland Northwest.

Chiefs: Spokane rallied in the third period and pulled out a 5-3 victory over Winnipeg in the Arena. Kevin Dudley was there and has this story.

Seahawks: Not only are the Hawks trying to keep their playoff hopes intact, Russell Wilson will try to make an MVP impression today.


• Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. I’m not sure how restful today will be. The Seahawks play. We have some commitments outside the house. And, with a near-royal holiday visitor arriving tomorrow, cleaning of every corner and cranny is called for. Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated. Until later …

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