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Sports >  WSU football

Difference makers: Lew Nichols carries Central Michigan to Sun Bowl win over WSU, despite Victor Galabis-led comeback

Dec. 31, 2021 Updated Fri., Dec. 31, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

Lew Nichols III

The nation’s leading rusher logged his 10th game of the year with 100 or more yards, totaling 120 and a score on 28 attempts to improve his season totals to 1,830 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Central Michigan’s sensational redshirt freshman weaved through traffic and shook off tacklers for seven carries that went longer than 10 yards, including a 38-yarder in the first quarter that provided a spark for the Chippewas, who dominated the early stages of the contest.

Victor Gabalis

His stats don’t leap off the page, but considering the circumstances, Washington State’s walk-on sophomore quarterback stood out. Gabalis replaced injured starter Jayden de Laura after halftime and completed 12 of 23 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns against no turnovers. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, Gabalis nearly led a Cougars comeback. He tossed a fourth-down touchdown to De’Zhaun Stribling late in the third quarter and fired a perfectly placed 16-yard score to Lincoln Victor with just over 3 minutes to play to cut the Chippewas’ advantage to three points.

Troy Hairston

CMU’s defensive ends gave the Cougars’ shorthanded offensive line fits. Hairston – the Chippewas’ top edge rusher – took advantage of his matchup against young WSU tackles. He had de Laura scrambling out of the pocket constantly and popped Gabalis a few times in the second half. Hairston logged 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks to bring his season totals in those categories to 16 and eight, respectively.

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