Washington State Gets First Win At The Expense Of Portland State

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Washington State Gets First Win At The Expense Of Portland State
Washington State running back Dwight Tardy (31) tries to elude Portland State defenders as he makes his way to the 4-yard line in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Dean Hare)
Dwight Tardy breaks off nice gain against PS

It was nearly a month in the making, but Coach Paul Wulff led his Washington State Cougars to their first victory of the season over Portland State, 48-9.  In so doing, it was also his first win as the head man at WSU.

A win is a win.  Or is it?

This is a Cougar team that is still trying to come together.  New faces at key positions and new coaches have been working hard to become a strong, unified team.

Washington State may have a long way to go, but they have finally taken a step in the right direction.

Just minutes into the first quarter, it was pretty clear the Cougs had the better athletes on the field turf of Martin Stadium.  Despite having an edge that coaches and fans dream of, WSU kept the Portland State Vikings in the game by making one bonehead play after another.  

In the first ten minutes of play, the officials threw more flags on the Cougs than Kevin Lopina threw passes at the Vikes secondary.  But Washington State had already pulled out to a 14-3 lead.

Mismatch?

The scoring 'drive' of 78 yards mounted by PSU in the first quarter was aided by 40 yards of Cougar penalties.  By scoring, we're talking about a field goal.  PSU wouldn't score again until there was about three minutes left in the third quarter and Coach Wulff had replacement players getting game experience.

How sweet was the win?

Bittersweet.

Lopina earned a second consecutive start at quarterback.  Just a few minutes into the third quarter, he was blasted from his blindside when the left tackle missed a blocking assignment.  Lopina wobbled off the field and headed for the locker room.  Tests revealed that his injury was a badly bruised shoulder.  Out for the game.  Probably out for a couple of weeks.

Gary Rogers replaced Lopina and was getting some rhythm back when the left defensive end got a clean shot to level him as he released a pass downfield.  Rogers was hit several times on prior plays but kept dusting himself off.  This time he couldn't move off the turf.  Suffering a bone fracture from the tremendous hit, Rogers is out for the season.

Enter Coach Wulff's third string quarterback, red shirt freshman Marshall Lobbestael. All he did was connect on two of his first three pass attempts for 75 yards and two touchdowns.  Wow!  Settle down Cougar Nation.  Those numbers were put up against Division I AA Portland State, member of the Big Sky Conference.

Despite losing two quarterbacks, this game was just what the Cougs needed.  Instead of being pushed around by an opponent, they were doing the pushing.

Where it looks as though potential All-American Brandon Gibson isn't going to get much attention or opportunity to show his abundant talent this season, he did make a highlight reel play 43-yard reception for the first score of the second half.  

To their credit, Portand State played spirited football for the first three quarters.  Sure they were outmanned, but Coach Jerry Glanville had the Vikes ready to play.  

Though the skies rained down on the game, no one was going to rain on PSU's parade. For about 35 minutes, they looked proud and appeared to believe they could win.  

Watching this game was like watching a Cougar practice.

It was ones against twos.

For tonight, Cougar Nation is savoring the victory.  

Coach Wulff was seen smiling on the sidelines as the final seconds ran off the scoreboard.  That sight has been as rare as a WSU win.

Players were jubiliant for the first time in a long time.

Winning isn't everything, but it sure is better than losing.

 

Next Game: Oregon Ducks vs. WSU Cougars  Homecoming at Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA          Saturday September 27, 2008 at 3:15pm PST
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