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.
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.