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Specialists provide bright spot for Washington State in loss to Arizona State

Washington State Cougars place kicker Jack Crane (33) and Washington State Cougars place kicker Blake Mazza (40) warm up before the start of the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 12, 2019, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

TEMPE, Ariz. – With just under eight minutes to play at Sun Devil Stadium, Oscar Draguicevich III stood at Washington State’s 39-yard line, caught the snap cleanly and drove his foot through the football, watching it sail more than 50 yards through the desert air before finally dropping inside the 5-yard line.

Draguicevich’s 58-yard punt was officially downed at the 3-yard line and after three short run plays and a false start, Arizona State’s drive ended not far from where it started, at the 7-yard line. The Sun Devils sent out their punter, Michael Turk, to kick from his own end zone, but the punt wobbled just 29 yards and dropped out of bounds, giving WSU’s offense the ball at the ASU 36-yard line.

Turk’s punt is what gave the Cougars prime field position, but Draguicevich’s bomb was every bit as responsible.

WSU’s offense couldn’t take full advantage, but the Cougars salvaged something out of the drive, getting a go-ahead 31-yard field goal from Blake Mazza that made it 34-31 with 2:30 to play.

While the defense staggered and the offense failed to reach its full potential, WSU’s specialists were impressive the whole way.

In a 38-34 loss, Mazza made two kicks, from 33 and 31 yards, and improved to 9-for-9 this season on field goals.

Draguicevich III, meanwhile, punted four times, totaling 221 yards and 55.2 yards per punt. He pinned the Sun Devils inside the 20-yard line on two separate occasions.

“They’re great at they do, like I said about the offensive line, they work hard every day at practice,” quarterback Anthony Gordon said. “Blake’s as accurate as it comes. Seeing him in practice, doesn’t miss too many, and Oscar’s got a strong a leg as anyone in the country and seeing him put a ball out there and pin them deep, that’s something great and something to build off on the special teams.”