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Recap and highlights: Washington State drops fifth straight with ugly 10-7 loss to Stanford

By Greg Woods The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN — When Kapena Gushiken couldn’t hold on to the interception, a sure pick-six that the Washington State defensive back couldn’t hang on to, his teammates picked him up. Safety Jaden Hicks grabbed the ball and tossed it to Gushiken. Cornerback Cam Lampkin did the same.

Right after the play, in the third quarter of Washington State’s 10-7 loss to Stanford Saturday night, Gushiken looked crushed. He had what looked like an easy path to the end zone. The ball hit his hands. All he needed to do was secure it.

In an ordinary game, maybe that play would not have loomed so large. If the Cougars’ offense was operating anywhere close to normally, that drop would have vanished into the ether. Instead, Washington State’s offense vanished entirely, and now the Cougs have lost five straight, entering freefall mode at the worst time.

WSU’s offense had never looked like this. Quarterback Cameron Ward completed 24 of 40 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown, but all that electricity came in the first half, when he evaded tacklers for a long completion and later found Josh Kelly for a 9-yard touchdown reception.

From there, Washington State’s offense looked like a shell of itself. The most damning sequence arrived in the most meaningful spot. After the Cardinal used a field goal to take a 10-7 lead with a shade under six minutes left, the Cougs got the ball back, ready to respond.

They did anything but. Running back Djouvensky Schlenbaker rushed for five yards. Then Isaiah Hamilton dropped a pass. Then Kyle Williams couldn’t hang on to a third-down throw. The Cougs punted, a three-and-out in the worst possible spot.

Washington State’s rushing offense also evaporated. With starting running back Nakia Watson limited by a lower-body injury, the majority of the carries went to Schlenbaker, who churned out 13 carries for 34 yards — but that wasn’t enough to offset the losses in that department, which resulted in a total of 4 rushing yards for WSU.

The most meaningful pair of losses came in the fourth quarter. At the tail end of the third frame, redshirt sophomore Jamorri Colson snared a huge interception, setting up his team’s offense with good field position. Except a few plays later, Ward took two straight sacks, setting up a 43-yard field goal attempt for kicker Dean Janikowki.

Miss.

Stanford used its next drive to kick its own field goal, this one a good 31-yarder from Joshua Karty, who gave his team the lead for good.

Now Washington State, losers of five straight, gets three games — at Cal, vs. Colorado, at Washington — to secure bowl eligibility. Only time will tell if the Cougs can.

Pac-12 Network / Youtube

BOX SCORE

Key plays

First quarter

15:00 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Stanford won the toss and deferred to the second half. WSU will receive the opening kickoff.

11:00 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cougars convert a fourth down and move past midfield, but their drive stalls and Haberer punts 29 yards to the Stanford 18. 

Ward opens 2 of 3 for 16 yards. Schlenbaker handles four carries for 11 yards. Going to need to get the run game going on a rainy night in Pullman.

9:26 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cougars defense gets off the field quickly with a three-and-out. WSU drive starts at its own 46.

7:52 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cougars can’t get anything going after the Stanford punt and give it right back. WSU punt goes into the end zone for a touchback.

4:35 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cardinal pick up a first down, but that’s it and they’re forced to punt again. Weather making things difficult on both teams so far. Daniels 1 of 4 for three yards passing for Stanford.

WSU starts on its 29.

3:36 – WSU 0, Stan 0: These teams must’ve taken note from the Iowa-Northwestern game earlier today. Cougars go three-and-out and its another punt, this time a good one from Haberer, down to the Stanford 8.

Second quarter

13:34 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Jackson sacks Daniels on third down and the Cardinal are forced to punt. Holding penalty against Stanford moves the Cougars to the Stan 49. 

12:19 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cougars go for it on fourth-and-2, Schlenbaker looks to have picked up a first, but after review his elbow hit short of the line to gain. Stanford takes over at its own 29.

10:11 – WSU 0, Stan 0: Cardinal drive stalls near midfield and Stanford punts into the end zone. WSU starts at its 20.

Ward is 5 of 11 for 41 yards and the Cougars have totaled nine carries for 9 yards.

6:18 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Someone is finally on the board. Ward hits Kelly for a 9-yard touchdown and the Cougars take the lead.

Ward escaped a couple of sacks earlier in the drive and heaved up a prayer, answered by Williams for a 39-yard reception to get the Cougars in the red zone.

4:02 – WSU 7, Stan 0: After several penalties, Stanford’s drive eventually stalls in its own territory. Flintoft punts 52 yards to the WSU 10, where the Cougars take over.  

3:01 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Ward slips on a third down pass attempt and goes down on the WSU 2. Cougars punt to the Stanford 46.

1:19 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Lamson’s third down conversion is overturned and the Cougars stuff the Stanford QB again on fourth. Big stop by the WSU defense, which takes over at its 14.

0:00 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Cougars work their way past midfield, but don’t get close enough for a field goal attempt. Ward completes a pass to Williams underneath, but there’s not threat of scoring.

Cougars outgained the Cardinal 188-48 in the first half. Ward is 18 of 27 for 189 yards, with WSU having -1 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Stanford has 15 rush attempts for four yards.

WSU hurt by five penalties for 60 yards. Stanford will receive the second half kickoff. 

Third quarter

12:09 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Cardinal drive stalls at midfield and WSU takes over at its 16 after a 35-yard punt. Stanford’s 7-play, 33-yard drive is its longest of the game.

6:20 – WSU 7, Stan 0: Mathers can’t haul in a pass over the middle and it flips up to Stanford’s Edwards for an interception. Tough break for the Cougars.

Cardinal get good field position at their own 47.

2:55 – WSU 7, Stan 7: Lamson takes a QB power into the end zone to tie things up. Stanford goes 53 yards in seven plays, which included a wide receiver pass down to the WSU 1.

0:56 – WSU 7, Stan 7: Ward is sacked for a loss of 9 on third down and the Cougars punt to the Stanford 20.

0:01 – WSU 7, Stan 7: Colson comes down with his first career interception in a big spot for the Cougars, who take over at the Cardinal 35.

Terrible decision and throw by Daniels, who puts the Stanford defense in a tough spot.

Fourth quarter

11:56 – WSU 7, Stan 7: Janikowski hooks a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right and the Cougars come up empty after being handed great field position.

Cougars had second-and-1 from the Stanford 10 and surrendered back-to-back sacks. 

5:56 – Stan 10, WSU 7: Karty caps a 12-play, 61-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal to give Stanford the lead. Colson dropped a pick in the end zone on third down, which also hit off the hands of the Cardinal receiver.

5:03 – Stan 10, WSU 7: Cougars rush for five yards on first down and then Ward throws two incompletions. WSU punts to the Stanford 23.

2:32 – Stan 10, WSU 7: Lamson rushes for a first down on fourth-and-1 and the Cardinal are almost surely going to win. 

This loss will be the Cougars fifth in a row after winning their first four games of the season. They’ll need a win over two of California, Colorado and Washington to become bowl eligible. 

Pregame

After starting the season with four-straight wins, Washington State is back to .500 and running out of time to become bowl eligible.

If the Cougars (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) want to see the postseason, it starts with a win over Stanford (2-6, 1-5) tonight at 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network.

A loss would drop the Cougars to the bottom of the conference standings. WSU is favored by 13 points, according to vegasinsider.com. 

The Cougars defense was suspect during last week’s 38-27 loss at Arizona State. It will have plenty of opportunity to get right against the Cardinal, who average 22.8 points a game.

Stanford came close to securing an upset last week, when it lost 42-33 against No. 5 Washington. The Cardinal’s two victories came at Hawaii in Week 1 and in a thrilling 2OT comeback over Colorado on Oct. 13.

If the Cougars lose Saturday, they will have to win two of their last three games to secure a bowl berth.

Series history

Stanford holds a 40-31-1 all-time series lead over Washington State, dating back to the first meeting in 1936. The Cougars have dominated recent years though, winning the last six meetings. 

WSU won last year’s game 52-14 in Stanford. The Cardinal’s last victory was in 2015.

Team stats

PASSING Att.-Comp. Yards TD Int.
Cameron Ward (WSU) 216-309 2,532 16 3
Ashton Daniels (Stan.) 133-218 1,592 9 3
RUSHING Carries Yards TD
Nakia Watson (WSU) 66 203 4
Casey Filkins (Stan.) 38 215 1
RECEIVING Receptions Yards TD
Kyle Williams (WSU) 46 626 4
Elic Ayomanor (Stan.) 45 737 5

Individual leaders

Scoring WSU Stan
Points Per Game 32.1 22.8
Points Allowed Per Game 30.1 37.5
Total Yards 435 379
     Yards Passing 348 251
     Yards Rushing 88 128
Yards Allowed 446 465
     Pass Yards Allowed 275 323
     Rush Yards Allowed 171 143

Game preview

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