Washington State vs. Cal score: No. 8 Cougars keep playoff hopes alive with late victory
They don't all have to be pretty, they just need to be wins for Washington State
Washington State beat defeated 19-13 in Pullman, Washington, on Saturday night, but the game was a lot more exciting -- or maybe interesting -- than the score would suggest. Neither team was able to find much traction in the rain, so it was a defensive battle that saw both teams turn down opportunities to take control late.
Cal put together a field goal drive late in the third quarter to tie the game at 13-13, and after its defense forced a Washington State punt on the ensuing possession, the Bears had a terrific chance to take a touchdown lead. Chase Garbers and Brand McIlwain led Cal 76 yards down the field before making a crucial mistake. Cal faced a fourth-and-1 at the Washington State 18-yard line, but rather than kicking the field goal, Cal coach Justin Wilcox decided to go for it. He was rewarded for the decision with a 6-yard run by Patrick Laird for the first down. However, on the very next play, McIlwain rolled out on a run-pass-option play. When the corner made the move to come after him, McIlwain unleashed a pass to a wide-open target, but he overthrew him and was picked off by Skyler Thomas in the end zone.
That's when Gardner Minshew took over, leading the team on a 67-yard drive to set up for a 40-yard field goal with 3:31 left -- a 40-yard field goal that Blake Mazza would push right. Wazzu's defense would force a three-and-out on Cal's next possession, though, and Minshew went back to work. The Cougs went 69 yards in six plays and just over two minutes before Minshew found Easop Winston for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining.
On Washington State's final two drives, Minshew completed 9-of-13 pass attempts for 108 yards and the game-winning TD. The grad transfer from East Carolina finished the game with 334 yards on the night. The win leaves Washington State all alone atop the Pac-12 North division, and with Utah's loss Saturday, it's now the only team remaining in the conference with fewer than three losses.
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