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Blake Mazza becomes first Lou Groza finalist in Washington State history

Washington State kicker Blake Mazza (40) kicks a field goal that is held by punter Oscar Draguicevich III (94) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Stanford in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Young Kwak / AP)

PULLMAN – For the first time this season, Blake Mazza watched a field goal sail away from the uprights. On a chilly Saturday night in Pullman, Mazza’s 48-yard attempt dipped low and left, ending the perfect streak that Washington State’s kicker took into a Week 11 game against Oregon State.

But that’s been the only real flaw for Mazza during an otherwise clean year and the redshirt sophomore, who’d made 18 consecutive field goals before Saturday’s game, was named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, the Palm Beach County Sport Commission announced Monday.

“That’s pretty good, that’s quite a distinction,” WSU coach Mike Leach said Monday. “Hope Blake and the rest of our team win that award.”

Mazza becomes the first kicker in WSU history to be named a finalist, two years after Erik Powell earned semifinalist honors. The Lou Groza Award has been handed out every year sincer 1992 and 27 finalists have gone on to appear in the NFL.

On Dec. 12, the nation’s most prestigious place-kicker award will either be handed to WSU’s Mazza, Iowa’s Keith Duncan and Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship at the Home Depot College Football Awards show, which will air on ESPN. Mazza, Duncan and Blankenship will be honored at the 28th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on Dec. 9 in Palm Beach County.

Mazza, a native of Plano, Texas, was recently named to the Midseason All-America Second Team by The Athletic, and he currently is tied for the second-most points in the country by a kicker, with 106, tied for ninth in the country with 51 PAT and tied for No. 12 in the country with 18 made field goals.

The sophomore’s streak of 18 consecutive field goals was the longest in program history and Mazza’s pair of 50-yard field goals tie him for fourth-most 50-yard kicks in the FBS.