Washington State returned the favor of Colorado last season, today. It was 4th down and goal from the 4 yard line and the teams were heading back onto the field with 12 seconds left when I called a spread quarterback draw for Colorado. Sure enough, Jordan Webb took the snap and waltzed over the left side of the line and practically walked into the endzone as Colorado celebrated joyously for the 3rd time in the 4th quarter. The extra point gave the Buffs their 21st point of the quarter, putting them up for the first time in the game and additionally gave them their first win of the season.
The furious 8 minute comeback started so innocently, as the Cougs were heading in to make a 31-14 lead even bigger, as it came to 4th down from inside the 25. Mike Leach decided to go for the 4th and 5 and Connor Halliday threw a basic interception trying to fit it in between defenders at the 8. At the time I thought it was no big deal but my brother was worried, saying we should have kicked the field goal and just taken the points. Turns out, he was absolutely right. Colorado’s next drive converted a 3rd down and then had a big first down play to about the 30, both on slant passes to the tight end. WSU got the same look on the next play and bit up on the pump fake, as Nick Kasa (the same doggone tight end), ran behind the safety and caught Webb’s floater in stride to cut the lead to 10.
After a Cougar drive was halted by a stupid late hit that cost them a chance at 2nd and 1 from near midfield, the Cougs punted Colorado deep again. The Cougs then could not lay a hand on Tony Jones as he took a handoff 84 yards around the corner and down the sidelines to pull CU within 3 with 4:23 left. The Cougars then moved the ball down the field again, but a dropped pass and a bad throw by Halliday put them in a position to go up by only 6 on a Furney field goal, which was his 2nd of the day. After the Buffs took over from their 30, the final march commenced, aided by a 15 yard face mask and breakdowns in the substitution packages that had worked all game to the Cougars’ advantage.
Washington State had built it’s early lead with a strong passing performance from Sophomore Connor Halliday (32-60 for 402 and 4 tds) and a nice contribution from the defense and special teams. Marquess Wilson’s 49 yard screen pass gave the Cougs a seemingly insurmountable 31-14 lead late in the 3rd and was his second touchdown of the game. It was also his final reception. The Cougars gave it up 3 times on turnovers, including a fumble in the 3rd quarter that gave CU some life after they returned it to the 1 and scored on the next play. WSU also forced 3 turnovers and had a chance for a 4th after a fumble on second down inside the 5 with just 29 seconds remaining. The Buffs somehow came out with it, just like they somehow managed to come out with a W.
Colorado goes to 1-3 (1-0) on the season, while the Cougars go to 2-2 (0-1). Next week the Buffs take on a disheartened UCLA team after their close loss to OSU today and the Cougs head to Seattle for their annual “Seattle Game” with Oregon, who has yet to play tonight.