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Sports >  Whitworth

Greatest hits: From Cooper Kupp’s 428 receptions to Rueben Mayes’ 357 yards rushing, these records probably weren’t made to be broken

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The saying suggests that records are meant to be broken, but the circumstances of these records – all of them the best in their respective program and some at their respective level of college football – make these marks particularly unique and difficult to surpass.

Here’s a look at records from Washington State, Washington, Idaho, Eastern Washington and Whitworth that would require something – or someone – to be remarkable in order to be supplanted.

Tristen Taylor, EWU

Program career record: 60 starts

Like all players who were eligible during COVID-19, Taylor had the chance to play more games than athletes of prior eras, and he made the most of it, setting Eastern’s career starts record from 2016 to 2021 with 60, eight more than anyone else in program history. Since Taylor started every game of his career, his 60 games played are also a program record.

Cooper Kupp, EWU

Program career record: 428 receptions

It’s hard to pick just one record for a player whose name appears 41 times in the FCS record books, nevermind all the times he is mentioned in Eastern Washington’s. But this is perhaps the most unbreakable of Kupp’s records at Eastern, considering that no one else has more than 253 career receptions. Consider also: Kupp’s four single-season reception totals of 117, 114, 104 and 93 are all top-five records in their own right. He made those receptions count, too, as his 6,464 receiving yards are an FCS record.

EWU offense

Program record: 9-minute, 29-second scoring drive

During the COVID-19 spring season of 2021 in a game against UC Davis, Eric Barriere and the Eagles opened a second-quarter drive with 12:06 left at their own 6-yard line. They then ran 22 consecutive plays – also a program record for longest drive – over the next 9:29. They converted on three third downs, one fourth down and finally scored from 21 yards out on a Talolo Limu-Jones touchdown catch.

Eric Barriere, EWU

Program (and FCS) single-half record: 53 passing attempts

If anyone’s name appears as much as Cooper Kupp’s in Eastern’s record book, it might be Eric Barriere. The quarterback won the Walter Payton Award last season as the best offensive player in the FCS and in the process became the program’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (121), completions (1,007), yards (13,809) and total offensive yards (15,394). But his last appearance as an Eagles quarterback epitomized just what he meant to the program, as Barriere attempted 53 second-half throws in a 57-41 playoff loss to Montana. His 34 fourth-quarter attempts in that game is, like the 53, an FCS record for that duration.

Eastern Washington Eagles

Program record: 20 consecutive home victories

This streak began in 2017 after a loss to Weber State and ended last season with a loss to Weber State. Between those games, Eastern built up what was the longest active home winning streak in the FCS. That included three playoff victories in 2018 on the Eagles’ way to a national title game appearance, a 38-24 loss to North Dakota State in Frisco, Texas.

Bryan Peterson, Whitworth

Program and D-III single-game record: 58 completions

In a wild game in California that featured six lead changes, quarterback Bryan Peterson completed 58 of 82 passing attempts, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fullman with 30 seconds left that gave Whitworth a 50-48 victory at La Verne on Sept. 20, 2014. Peterson – who set school records for competitions, attempts and passing yards (580) in the game – also did not throw an interception, making those 82 attempts an NCAA D-III record for most in a game without also being picked off.

Whitworth Pirates defense

Program single-season record: 34 points allowed, 34 interceptions

In the first of three straight one-loss seasons, this Sam Adams-coached Pirates team in 1959 fielded a suffocating defense, holding opponents to 34 total points across a nine-game season. The 34 interceptions in nine games (nearly four per game) is also a program record. During Adams’ seven-year tenure from 1958 to 1964, the Pirates had six winning seasons.

Walt Spangenberg, Whitworth

Program single-game record: 4 fumble recoveries

Spangenberg holds one of the more obscure records in Whitworth’s history, set in 1953, when he recovered four fumbles in one game against Western Washington. The offensive and defensive lineman played three seasons for the Pirates, and during that stretch from 1953 to 1955 the Pirates went 24-1 and won three Evergreen Conference titles.

Scott Miller, Whitworth

Program record: 105-yard kickoff return

By definition, this record, which Miller set in 1984, is unbreakable – the NCAA counts any return that begins in the end zone as starting at the goal line, so 100 yards is the official maximum.

Connor Halliday, WSU

Program and FBS single-game record: 89 passing attempts

Just 10 minutes into a game against No. 2 Oregon on Oct. 19, 2013, the Cougars were already down by double-digits, and Halliday just kept throwing and throwing and throwing. Halliday’s record-setting day was not the only time the quarterback was asked to throw and throw and throw to get the Cougars back into a football game, but it was certainly the most statistically memorable. The Ducks won the game, 62-38, but Halliday set a program and FBS record by attempting 89 passes. He completed 58 of them for 557 yards, which was his second-highest single game total behind the school -and FBS- record 734 he had against Cal in 2014.

Luke Falk, WSU

Program single-game record: .914 (32-35) completion percentage

If Connor Halliday epitomized the early years of Mike Leach’s Air Raid tenure in Pullman, then Luke Falk can serve as the poster child for a more mature and successful mini-era for the former WSU coach. In 2016 the Cougars lost their first two but then rattled off eight consecutive victories, one of which was a 69-7 drubbing of visiting Arizona. Falk, whose name appears among the top 15 in various FBS career record categories, was perhaps at his very best in this game when he completed 32 of 35 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. No other WSU quarterback has had such an efficient line while attempting at least 10 passes. Tyler Hilinski, who took over for him later in the game, came close, completing 15 of 17 attempts for 163 yards and two more touchdowns. They combined, then, to complete 47 of 52 attempts that day. WSU won its next game but then lost its last three.

Jason Hanson, WSU

Program and FBS record: 20 field goals from 50-plus yards

No other Cougars kicker has come anywhere close to beating Hanson in this category. His 20 made field goals of at least 50 yards from 1988-91 is 15 more than anyone else to kick for the Cougars (Rian Lindell is second with five), and Hanson’s total also represents an FBS record. Hanson also holds the FBS record for made (and attempted) field goals from 40-plus yards, having made 39 of 66 attempts from such distances. His career long of 62 (against UNLV in 1991) is still a program best, though Andrew Furney came close with a 60-yarder against Eastern Washington in 2012.

Rueben Mayes, WSU

Program single-game record: 357 rushing yards

Set in a 50-41 victory over Oregon in 1984, Mayes’ single-game team record of 357 rushing yards was at the time also the Division I record as well. Twelve FBS running backs have since surpassed his mark, but Mayes’ total still stands as the best in WSU history, and it’s not all that close. Bernard Jackson remains second with the 261 yards he had against Oregon in 1971. Jerome Harrison has the next three best totals of 260, 247 and 240 set during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Mayes went on to play parts of six seasons in the NFL for the Saints and Seahawks.

Willis Smith, Idaho

Program career record: 8.73 career yards per carry

From 1929 to 1932, Willis Smith averaged 8.73 yards per carry, more than two yards more than any other Vandals running back with at least 80 career carries. Smith went far beyond that minimum, too, rushing 347 times for 3,029 career yards, which ranks third-most in program history.

Tom Hennessey, Idaho

Program single-season record: 180 tackles

As a senior in 1986, Hennessey broke what was then Sam Merriman’s single-season tackle record by 35 tackles in just one more game. Hennessey, a linebacker, averaged 15 tackles a game that season. In the years since, two other Vandals have surpassed Merriman’s mark of 145 tackles, but David Vobora (148 in 2007) and Jason Shelt (148 in 1993) were still far from Hennessey’s record. Tre Walker made a run at it in 2019, when he had 138 tackles, tied for sixth-most in team history.

John Friesz, Idaho

Program career record: 305.6 passing yards per game

Friesz, who also set an Idaho record by throwing for at least 300 yards in 14 consecutive games, set this record during a memorable four-year career from 1986 to 1989. Doug Nussmeier, his successor and Idaho quarterback from 1990 to 1993, is second on the list with 277.5 yards per game. At the FCS level, Friesz’s average ranks 13th all-time, but of the 12 names above him, only five played more than the 35 games Friesz did.

Jeff Robinson, Idaho

Program career record: 57.5 quarterback sacks

The NCAA didn’t start officially collecting sack statistics until 2000, so Robinson’s total, which he racked up from 1989 to 1992, does not rank among the NCAA record books. But it is certainly the most in Vandals history – 18 more than the 39.5 Ryan Phillips had from 1993 to 1996. Robinson set a single-season Idaho record with 20 sacks in 1991. A graduate of Ferris High, Robinson was twice named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.

Sonny Sixkiller, Washington

Program single-game record: six interceptions thrown

There are some memorable names lower on this list: Cody Pickett once threw five interceptions, as did Don Heinrich and Brock Huard. But Sixkiller’s six drive-killers in a 1970 game against Oregon State stand as a Huskies’ single-game record, one that is all the more remarkable because it came in a Washington victory, 29-20. In passing yardage, Sixkiller ranks eighth all-time among Huskies quarterbacks with 5,496. But he does hold one record all to himself: 51 interceptions, seven more than anyone else.

Spider Gaines, Washington

Program career record: 23.6 yards per reception

The Huskies have had many a speedster wideout in the years since Gaines played for them from 1975 to 1978, but none have really come all that close to the receiver’s career yards per reception average of 23.6 (with a minimum of 50 receptions). Next best is Brian Slater’s 19.2 yards per catch (from 1985-88), and the last player to come anywhere close was Hunter Bryant (2017-19), who caught 85 passes at an average of 16.4 yards. Gaines had eight receptions of at least 50 yards in his career, a number bested only by John Ross, who had 11. In all, Gaines had 70 receptions for 1,651 yards.

Chuck Nelson, Washington

Program and FBS record: 30 consecutive made field goals

Nelson made his last five field-goal attempts in the 1981 season, and then he began the next year by making 25 more in a row to set an FBS record. Even great Huskies kicker Jeff Jaeger – who holds the program career record with 85 field goals – never had a streak longer than 16. Infamously, Nelson’s streak ended in the fourth quarter of the Huskies’ final regular season game, when they trailed the Cougars, 21-20. Nelson missed a 33-yarder to the right of the goalpost, and the Cougars won the game, 24-20.

Hugh McElhenny, Washington

Program record: 100-yard punt return for a touchdown

In the years 1950, 1951 and 1952, the NCAA saw five players return punts for 100 yards, and McElhenny – in a 20-13 loss to USC in 1951 – had one of them, still the longest in program history and among the 12 longest ever in the FBS (Idaho’s Keo Shiloh, in 2007, had another 100-yard punt return). Rarely do returners field a punt at their goal line any longer, and in Huskies history the next-longest return belongs to Steve Bramwell, who brought a punt back 92 yards against Oregon State in 1963. Aaron Fuller’s 88-yard punt return touchdown in 2019 is the fifth-longest in Huskies’ history and most recent among the program’s top 10.

Sources: Football media guides from Washington State, Washington, Idaho, Eastern Washington and Whitworth; NCAA record books for FCS (2022), FBS (2021) and Division III (2022) from ncaa.org.

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