The 2019 season has officially come to a close, but not the way that many Cougar fans had hoped. The #24 Air Force Falcons (11-2, 7-1 MW) defeated the Washington State Cougars (6-7, 3-6 PAC 12) by a score of 31-21 to finish the season on an 8-game win streak, dating back to October 12th. CSN photographer Jack Ellis was in Phoenix, Arizona at Chase Field capturing the game’s biggest moments and plays.
For the last time in 2019, HERE COME THE COUGS!
Sophomore RB Max Borghi (21) did not have his best outing of the season, but is hardly at fault. Borghi was given just six rushing opportunities, two of which came on 4th down inside the Air Force 5 yard line. Borghi was stopped short on both attempts, swinging the momentum into the Falcons’ favor.
Senior QB Anthony Gordon (18) made the absolute most out of his one season leading the Cougar offense, setting WSU and PAC 12 records that may last the test of time. Gordon threw for 3 TDs and 351 yards in the Cheez-It Bowl, his 12th game surpassing 300 passing yards.
The WSU defense was tested against a rushing offense like nothing they had seen all season. The Falcons ran the ball 85% of the time, the highest average of any team the Cougars faced in 2019.
AP All-PAC 12 second team all-purpose player Travell Harris (5) awaits the kickoff following Air Force’s score on their opening drive that lasted over 12 minutes. The Falcon’s took 20 plays on the drive to go 98 yards without a single negative play in the first quarter.
The Triple Option was everything that Coug fans feared it out be, and more. Air Force ran for 371 yards on 69 attempts, with only two negative plays in the entire game. Through the air, Falcon QB Donald Hammond III (5) went a measly 4-for-12 for 30 yards and an interception.
Junior RB Kadin Remsberg (24) averaged almost 7 YPA on 26 carries, earning him Offensive Player of the Game in the 2019 Cheez-It Bowl. The Cougar defense simply could not find an answer for Air Force’s outside runs, where Remsberg accumulated a majority of his yardage.
An incredible statistic that you probably won’t see anywhere else, the Falcons only had consecutive neutral or negative plays TWICE on 81 offensive snaps (not including the kneels at the end of the game). That level of efficiency, paired with almost 45 minutes time of possession, makes it almost impossible to lose a football game.
After the Cougar defense held Air Force to a field goal in the second quarter, it appeared as though momentum may be swinging in WSU’s favor. But then Anthony Gordon fumbled on the first play of the offensive series and gave the Falcons back the ball on the WSU 23. Four plays later, Air Force had a 17-7 lead/
A BIG 10 referee lowers his shoulder to make the final hit on Air Force RB Taven Birdow (33). Jokes aside, the officials poor placement may have prevented a TD on this play late in the second quarter.
79 seconds is way too much time to give a Mike Leach offense, as Tay Martin (1) demonstrated with a game high 58-yard reception in the final minute of the first half, down 7-17. The Cougs moved the ball 75 yards in just five plays, capping the drive with a 5-yard TD reception by Max Borghi.
Junior LB Jahad Woods (13) was everywhere Friday night in Phoenix, setting a Cheez-It Bowl record with 20 tackles, 10 of which being the solo variety. Woods’ season total finished at 141, good for 5th in WSU single-season history.
DT Lamonte McDougle (9) goes untouched on his way to Air Force QB Hammond III (5). Hammond III managed to evade McDougle and scramble to the Falcons sideline, but he threw the ball away and forced a second consecutive punt.
Final Thoughts: The 2019 iteration of Cougar football has left me feeling as though there was so much left on the table. This team had all of the right pieces, but were never really able to put them together and live up to the high expectations bestowed upon them coming into the season. Inarguably the best receiving corps in program history, a QB that rewrote the conference recordbooks, a 141-tackle LB and a Lou Groza finalist kicker somehow culminated in a 6-7 season, the program’s first losing record since 2014. Still, the future is bright in Pullman with a defense returning nine starters and a reload mentality on offense, so we can spend the next 252 days without Cougar football fantasizing about the 2020 campaign. As always, Go Cougs!
Want more Sights from the Field? Check out my previous posts!
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs Oregon State Beavers Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs Stanford Cardinal Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football @ California Bears Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football @ Oregon Ducks Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs Colorado Buffaloes Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football @ Utah Utes Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs UCLA Bruins Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: Advocare Texas Kickoff Special Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs UNC Bears Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: WSU Football vs NMSU Aggies Edition
2019 Sights from the Field: Crimson and Gray Spring Game Edition
2018 Sights from the Field: Valero Alamo Bowl Special Edition