WSU made it a point this week to improve the production of its downfield passing game. When the Cougars went deep, they often looked to Renard Bell. The seventh-year senior slot receiver came up with several big gains. He snagged a 47-yard catch in stride down the far sideline early in the third quarter to spark a touchdown series. Bell beat his defender on a vertical route early in the fourth and hauled in a well-placed TD pass to supply breathing room for the Cougars, who fashioned a 12-point lead. Bell finished with 115 yards and a score on eight catches.
The senior transfer slotback kick-started the Cougars’ offense in the second quarter with a 34-yard punt return. WSU scored its first touchdown shortly after. In his third game in a Cougars uniform, Ferrel had the best day with WSU. He provided a safety valve for quarterback Cameron Ward and gained separation on outside routes and crossing patterns. Ferrel totaled 79 yards on six catches. He sped into an opening over the middle of the field early in the third quarter and hauled in a 17-yard touchdown.
The defensive front
The Cougars couldn’t manage a sack and failed to produce much pressure last weekend against Oregon’s offensive line. WSU’s defensive linemen and linebackers had a bounce-back game, registering four sacks and three tackles for loss in the ground game. Defensive tackles Nusi Malani and Christian Mejia had a sack apiece, linebacker Francisco Mauigoa contributed another, and edge rusher Quinn Roff and tackle Antonio Pule III combined for one. The Cougars held Cal tailback Jaydn Ott – who piled up 275 rushing yards last weekend – under 50 yards through three quarters.
Cal couldn’t move the ball for the majority of the afternoon, but the Golden Bears found life early in the fourth quarter with back-to-back deep balls to Jeremiah Hunter. Ott capped the drive with a goal-line touchdown. Suddenly, Cal – which had punted seven times up to that point – had cut WSU’s lead to 14-9. But the Cougars responded quickly to keep the momentum on their side. Outside receiver De’Zhaun Stribling gained 32 yards on a third-down screen play, then Ward fired a deep ball toward the end zone. Bell caught the 47-yard pass in stride for a touchdown.
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