BY Howie Stalwick 11:03PM 08/28/2014

Late fumble leads Rutgers to upset of Cougs

QB Connor Halliday threw for 532 yards, but Rutgers, a seven-point underdog, seized a fumbled punt return to spoil Cougars’ season opener in Seattle.

Connor Halliday had another big passing night for Washington State, but again, it wasn’t enough. / Gary Breedlove, Sportspress Northwest

Washington State football coach Mike Leach never liked playing “home” games in Seattle. Thursday night reminded him why. River Cracraft’s fumbled punt set up a game-winning, three-yard touchdown run by Paul Jones with 3½ minutes left in Rutgers’ 41-38 victory over Washington State at CenturyLink Field.

The Cougars wasted a 532-yard passing performance by Connor Halliday. His fifth touchdown pass of the game pushed WSU ahead 38-34 with 8 minutes, 13 minutes left.

Halliday completed 40 of 56 passes with one interception. His 532 passing yards ranks second in WSU history behind the 557 he recorded in a loss at Oregon last year.

The Cougars have lost six “home” games in a row at CenturyLink. Washington State has no plans to move any more games to Seattle. CenturyLink holds about twice as many fans as WSU’s Martin Stadium, and most WSU alumni live in Western Washington, but the Seattle “home” game set a record low for attendance for the second straight year when only 30,927 fans turned out on a gorgeous evening.

The Cougars netted six rushing yards and had 538 total yards. Rutgers finished with 496 total yards. Jones carried the ball 29 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo caught a 78-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. He finished with six catches for 151 yards. WSU wideout Vince Mayle caught 12 passes (one off the school record) for 124 yards and one TD.

Rutgers led 21-17 at halftime. The Scarlet Knights were 7½-point underdogs and picked to finish last in the East Division in the Big Ten Conference media poll.

A full report on the game will appear Friday morning in Sportspress Northwest.


  • Effzee

    Does Wazzu even practice defending the run?

    • Big

      DL huge disappointment. The Rutger’s OL stood them up and pushed them out of the way and into the LB’s. Rutger’s OL blocked open huge holes. The FB lead was effective. Generally poor tackling all around for the Cougs.

      • Effzee

        But how do they even practice playing defense against the run? Do they just have an alternate scout team running a traditional offense for this? I seriously doubt they have the first team offense waste time running a traditional system that they will never use just so the first team defense can practice against it. The whole philosophy seems to be set up to fail, unless you’re planning on making every game a shootout, and just taking your chances that you will have the ball last and score to win. That’s not Big Boy football.

        • Big

          The scout team runs the opponent’s offense. I’m sure the #1 D abuses the scout team but really the DL should be ashamed of their performance. It was a tight ball game and no room for error, we made errors.

  • RadioGuy

    Wow. Couging it already and it isn’t even September. At least they didn’t have to spend a week in Albuquerque before choking to a leser opponent (and no nationwide audience to bear witness). I suppose that’s progress.

    Anytime you want to start recruiting defensive players who can keep Rutgers (RUTGERS!) from scoring 41 points is fine with us, coach. Maybe next year. Or not.

  • ollie swensen

    I am sure that the attendance of the cougars opening regular season game would have been improved if they were not competing with the Seahawks’ in their fourth preseason game for viewership.

  • Diamond Mask

    If this is what the Cougs do against Rutgers how are they ever going to handle Oregon? They should have played this game at Wazzu, it might have been just enough of an edge to change the outcome.