PULLMAN – Recent history has shown matchups between Washington State and Utah to be competitive as any. Saturday evening’s bout was no different.
Just as anyone would have expected, the clash played out in a series of exchanged blows in which no squad could grab a commanding lead. But alas, Washington State pulled ahead when it matter most.
The Cougs met adversity early as a turnover in Utah’s opening possession was overruled. Adding insult to injury, safety Skyler Thomas was ejected for targeting upon official review.
“I didn’t really see the replay, but [Deion Singleton] came in and he did his job,” offered defensive end Will Rodgers. “He played really well I think.”
It didn’t help that Utah’s vicious ground attack, highlighted by quarterback Tyler Huntley and halfback Zack Moss, bullied their way to 204 yards for the day. Transversely, Washington State linebackers – Peyton Pelluer and Jahad Woods – combined for 21 tackles in their best effort to keep Utah frugal.
“We knew coming into his game that we had to tackle low and tackle well” linebacker Peyton Pelluer said.
On offense, Wazzu struggled to keep traction. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II threw an interception to Utah defensive back Corrion Ballard in the opening drive. The graduate transfer handsomely responded with a pair of first half touchdown passes to Tay Martin and Dezmon Patmon.
Perhaps one of the most understated plays of the first half was a crucial pass breakup by freshman nickel Kendron Williams. By ending the ensuing Utah drive, the match would remain square within the half’s closing minutes at 21 a piece.
The Cougars, matching Utah every step of the way through two quarters, experienced sporadic offensive misfires in the third. Several dropped passes and poor execution made Wazzu near silent for 15 minutes. They entered the fourth quarter behind a 24-21 deficit.
At first glance, the fourth looked to be no different. And while down by field goal with just under 6 minutes to go, WSU gave up possession via punt. An illegal block on the ensuing return revoked Utah’s would-be touchdown and breathed life back into the crimson and gray.
A stout defensive stand, sparked by a clutch Peyton Pelluer sack, put the ball back into Minshew II’s hands. Two plays later, Easop Winston Jr. was celebrating in the end zone after receiving an 89-yard bomb from his signal caller.
“Feeding off the electricity of the crowd really gives you an advantage,” voiced Pelluer. “Its a legit homefield advantage once we get in those third and fourth downs.”
Utah, trailing 28-24, saw their window of opportunity grow smaller and smaller due to a barrage of penalties in succession. Falling behind the sticks, they failed to convert on 4th-and-20 with just under a minute to go sealing the Cougar victory.
“This game was all about resiliency” said Minshew II.
Washington State advances to 4-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. Next week, the Cougs travel to Corvallis taking on the Oregon State Beavers. Live coverage of the 6 p.m. kickoff can be found at the Pac-12 Network.
Q1 8:22 – Utah 7, WSU 0
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley capped off a 10 play 75-yard drive with a 24-yard rush between the tackles. (Matt Gay kick good)
Q1 5:07 – Utah 7, WSU 7
Minshew knots things up with Tay Martin from 4-yards out off a deflected pass. (Blake Mazza kick good)
Q1 1:07 – Utah 14, WSU 7
Utah marched 65 yards in a matter of minutes to score their second rushing touchdown. This being a 6-yard rush by halfback Zack Moss. (Gay kick good)
Q2 11:47 – Utah 14, WSU 14
Minshew’s mobility kept the 75-yard drive alive on multiple occasions. He sealed he deal scrambling to the corner pylon for a 10-yard rushing touchdown. (Mazza kick good)
Q2 9:03 – WSU 21, Utah 14
Utah safety Marquise Blair completely misreads the play allowing Dezmon Patmon to break loose for a 65-yard reception to the house. (Mazza kick good)
Q2 6:01 -WSU 21, Utah 21
Tyler Huntley marched the Utes 75 yards in just 7 plays. A 38-yard completion to Jaylen Dixon set up the quarterbacks one-yard rushing touchdown. (Gay kick good)
Q3 10:39 – Utah 24, WSU 21
Kicker Matt Gay converts on a 41-yard attempt to give Utah the second half’s first lead.
Q4 4:14 – WSU 28, Utah 24
Easop Winston Jr. danced around Utah defensive back Corrion Ballard for an 89-yard touchdown pass from Minshew III. (Mazza kick good)