Sights from the Field: Valero Alamo Bowl Special Edition

Breaking PAC 12 records, defying expectations, and finishing the year on a high note. Washington State capped off its first 11-win season in program history with a 28-26 win at the Valero Alamo Bowl.

A season that nobody saw coming came to a thrilling end Friday night in San Antonio, Texas, as Mike Leach and Co. gave Cougar fans a late Christmas present with a win in the Alamo Bowl. The victory capped off the best season in WSU football history, as your Washington State Cougars (11-2, 7-2) won 28-26 against the Big 12’s Iowa State Cyclones (8-5, 6-3). CSN photographer Jack Ellis was in the Alamodome capturing the game’s biggest moments and plays.


Not much hasn’t already been said about star QB Gardner Minshew II, so I’ll just say this.  Congratulations on a fantastic season Gardner, and thank you for bringing joy to a program that needed it more than ever.


WSU’s receiving corps’ biggest strength is its youth.  Only Seniors Kyle Sweet and Robert Lewis depart, with the top six players in terms of yards all returning in 2019.  92.9% of receiving production from 2018 will don the crimson and gray next season.


One of the best parts of bowl season is the families of the players often get to travel to watch their kids play under the stadium lights.  Calvin Jackson Jr. (Left) and Easop Winston Jr. (Right) greet family and friends before kickoff.

DSC_0053 copy

For one final time, Senior Captains Kyle Sweet and Peyton Pelluer meet at midfield for the pre-game coin toss.  The Cougars won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.

DSC_0073 copy

After a fumble by James Williams on the Cougs’ opening drive, it was up to the defense to sway the momentum back into WSU’s favor.  This materialized quickly, as Jalen Thompson picked off freshman QB Brock Purdy’s first pass attempt of the game.

DSC_0087 copy

WR Easop Winston Jr. made the most of his first year at Washington State with 48 receptions and a team high 8 TDs.  Winston Jr. had 4 receptions for 43 yards (22 long) in the 2018 Alamo Bowl.

DSC_0105 copy

Special Teams coach Matt Brock applauds his unit as an Oscar Draguicevich punt was successfully downed at the ISU 3-yard line.  Special Teams has been an asset to the Cougs in 2018, rather than the liability of years past.

DSC_0136 copy

The 2018 Alamo Bowl was the first matchup between the two programs, and WSU can now claim an undefeated record against the Cyclones.  ISU featured First Team All-American players in CB Brian Peavy and RB David Montgomery, with QB Brock Purdy selected as the Big 12 True Freshman Player of the Year.

DSC_0161 copy

Sophomore WR Renard Bell opened the scoring with a wide open 22-yard reception in the first quarter.  It was Bell’s only reception of the night, but arguably one of the biggest of his career.

DSC_0200 copy

DB Hunter Dale tracks down ISU’s David Montgomery, stopping the All-American RB for a 5-yard loss.  Montgomery ran for 124 yards on 26 carries (4.8 AVG), but was largely held to small, incremental gains.

DSC_0211 copy

Hunter Dale shows off his moves to the 60,675 fans in attendance, the highest Alamo Bowl crowd by two out-of-state schools since 2004 (Oklahoma State vs. Ohio State, 65,265).

DSC_0238 copy

During a media time out early in the second quarter, a familiar video to Cougar Nation played on the Alamodome’s four monitors.  The “Back Home” video has become a staple of Cougar football since 2015, getting every WSU fan in attendance on their feet and singing along.

DSC_0276 copy

What can’t this man do?  QB Gardner Minshew II found the endzone with his feet on a 7-yard scramble halfway through the second quarter to put the Cougs up 14-0.  Minshew II led the rushing attack with 16 yards on 6 carries.

DSC_0334 copy

WR Dezmon Patmon stretched out to complete a 9-yard TD pass with just 1:02 remaining in the half, giving the Cougs a commanding 21-7 lead.  Patmon led WSU with 76 yards on 6 receptions, and finishes his Junior campaign with a team-high 816 receiving yards.

DSC_0349 copy

K Blake Mazza went a perfect 4-4 on extra points, congratulated by OL Christian Haangana.  Look at the sheer body type difference between the two players; Haangana (345lbs) is over double the size of freshman Mazza (165lbs).

DSC_0379 copy

After being assisted off the field shortly before halftime with an apparent head injury, Hunter Dale ran out of the locker room looking ready to go.  Dale’s presence on the field and leadership cannot be overstated, giving the Cougs a needed boost going into the second half.

DSC_0392 copy

KR Travell Harris prepares for the kick after a quick scoring drive by ISU coming out of the half. Harris has broken several big runs this year, including a return close to midfield (WSU 46) in the Alamo Bowl.

DSC_0433 copy

Sophomore CB George Hicks III saw significant playing time on Friday night.  With the loss of Darrien Molton to graduation, Hicks III will compete for a starting position in 2019, and the experience of a big game will pay dividends down the road.

DSC_0454 copy

QB Gardner Minshew II threw for 299 yards and 2 TD’s, setting a PAC 12 record for single-season passing yards with 4,779.  The previous record holder was now-LA Ram Jared Goff (4,719, Cal).

DSC_0463 copy

Mike Leach talking to his offense after a forgettable third quarter that brought the WSU lead all the way down to one point.  WSU proved once again to be a fourth quarter team, outscoring their opponent in the final quarter for the 11th time this season.

DSC_0479 copy

RB James Williams goes aerial against ISU DB Braxton Lewis.  Williams’ hurdle is his signature move, but it seems to get prettier each time he does it.

DSC_0505 copy

RB Max Borghi plowed through defenders en route to the endzone for the game-winning score early in the fourth quarter. WSU took advantage of ISU miscues, scoring 14 points off of turnovers in the game.

DSC_0549 copy

LB Jahad Woods found the ball fall into his hands on a fumble by an ISU receiver and wasn’t stopping until he hit pay dirt.  Although the play was called back as an incomplete pass, Woods’ effort all game was admirable (9 tackles, 5 solo).

DSC_0588 copy

QB Gardner Minshew II takes one final knee in victory formation to seal the 2018 Alamo Bowl, giving WSU an 8-7 bowl record.  The Cougs are now 2-0 in the Alamo Bowl, the other game being a 10-3 victory over the Baylor Bears in 1994.

DSC_0613 copy

Senior Andre Dillard gets emotional as he celebrates his second bowl win as a Cougar.  Dillard, a three-year starter, possesses accolades that include a First Team All-PAC 12 title in 2018, Second Team in 2016, and Honorable Mention in 2017.

DSC_0666 copy

The Defensive MVP of the 2018 Alamo Bowl… Peyton Pelluer!  Pelluer recorded 11 tackles (7 solo), in addition to 1 sack and a fumble recovery.  He also had 1.5 tackles-for-loss.

DSC_0715 copy

The Offensive MVP of the 2018 Alamo Bowl… Gardner Minshew II!  Minshew II set an Alamo Bowl record with 35 completions, wrapping up his WSU career with 42 total TDs and a single season school record 4,779 yards.

DSC_0749 copy

Mike Leach hoists the 2018 Alamo Bowl trophy.  An interesting, yet eerie stat about Leach-led teams: the 2015-2018 seasons at WSU have the EXACT same win pattern (9,8,9,11 respectively) as his 2005-2008 seasons at Texas Tech.  Even weirder is the fact that they are exactly a decade apart…

DSC_0766 copy

Robert Lewis (Left), James Williams (Middle), and Jamire Calvin (Right) glory at the culmination of the greatest season in WSU football history.


Want more content? Check out my previous posts!

Sights from the Field: Apple Cup Edition

Sights from the Field: Arizona Wildcats Edition

Sights from the Field: Colorado Buffaloes Edition

Sights from the Field: California Golden Bears Edition

Sights from the Field: Oregon State Beavers Edition


  1. What an awesome recap! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so excited for this group of kids and how they are finished out for them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.