Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich looks on during a game against the USC Trojans in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State looks to build on win streak at home vs. Stanford

Since a humbling 31-point loss at home to USC after leading by two touchdowns on Sept. 18, Washington State has become competitive in the Pac-12 North Division.

The Cougars, who led 13-10 in the fourth quarter at Utah before losing 24-13 a week after the loss to USC, have defeated California in Berkeley, Calif., and Oregon State at home in the last two weeks.

Stanford goes to Pullman, Wash., on Saturday, and Washington State is hoping to keep its momentum while the Cardinal, who lost at Arizona State last week after upsetting Oregon at home, are looking to get on a winning track.

Both teams are 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

“This team deserves so much credit for what they’ve been through,” Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said. “They’ve kept grinding. The mindset of the team leadership to keep this group going is pretty incredible.”

One of the leaders is Jayden de Laura, recruited to Washington State from Honolulu after Rolovich left Hawaii to become the Cougars’ head coach before the 2020 season.

The sophomore quarterback completed 32 of 46 pass attempts for 399 yards and three touchdowns and one interception in the Cougars’ win over Oregon State, which entered the game with a 2-0 conference record.

His top target, Travell Harris, caught eight passes for 147 yards.

“He’s grown the trust of everyone in this program,” Rolovich said of de Laura. “He makes everything around him better.”

Washington State, which has beaten Oregon State eight straight times, will look to build on its four-game winning streak against Stanford. The Cardinal won eight consecutive games against the Cougars until the recent streak for Washington State that was started under former coach Mike Leach.

“We all know, our conference is insane,” Stanford coach David Shaw said after losing to Arizona State after upsetting Oregon. “The idea that we go too far and celebrate one victory, that does us no good.

“We have to block everything out and concentrate on Washington State because that is a good football team.”

The Cardinal and Cougars are geared toward the pass.

Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee threw for 356 yards and a touchdown, but he also had his first three interceptions of the season in the loss at Arizona State.

Elijah Higgins tallied 110 yards on seven catches with a touchdown, while sophomore tight end Benjamin Yurosek added 118 yards on six catches.

— Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford (5) is called for pass interference on his play against Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Tre'Shaun Harrison (0) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington St. holds on for 31-24 win over Oregon St.

Jayden de Laura threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns, and Washington State made a late defensive stand to defeat division-leading Oregon State 31-24 Saturday afternoon in a Pacific-12 Conference game in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars (3-3, 2-2 Pac-12), who entered in last place in the North Division, stopped Oregon State after it reached the WSU 14-yard line with 1:11 remaining. The Beavers faced a fourth-and-19 play from the 23 when Chance Nolan completed a screen pass to Trey Lowe, who was stopped after an 18-yard gain by George Hicks III to turn over the ball on downs with 33 seconds left.

De Laura, who was 32-of-46 passing, threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Deon McIntosh with 5:25 remaining to break a 24-all tie. McIntosh rushed for a team-high 65 yards on 13 carries

B.J. Baylor led Oregon State (4-2, 2-1) with 145 yards rushing on 18 carries. Teammate Deshaun Fenwick added 127 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Nolan was 11 of 25 for 158 yards and threw two interceptions.

It was tied at 17-all heading into the fourth quarter before WSU regained the lead on a 14-yard pass from de Laura to Lincoln Victor with 13:41 remaining.

The Beavers responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with Fenwick scoring on an 11-yard run to make it 24-24 with 11:15 left.

After trailing 10-3 at the half, the Cougars took the lead with two third-quarter touchdowns.

Max Borghi scored on a 3-yard run to tie the score at 10-10 with 8:40 left in the quarter.

Oregon State drove inside the WSU 10-yard line, but a third-down pass went off the fingertips of receiver Zeriah Beason, bounced off the helmet of Cougars defensive back Derrick Langford Jr. and into the arms of teammate Brennan Jackson.

The Cougars turned that into a 55-yard touchdown pass from de Laura to Joey Hobert to take a 17-10 lead with 48 seconds left in the quarter.

The Beavers responded with Fenwick’s 15-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds left in the quarter to tie it at 17-17.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Beavers tallied on the first play of the second as Jack Colletto scored on a 2-yard run.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) runs with the ball as Washington Huskies defensive back Alex Cook (5) and defensive back Mishael Powell (23) move in to make a tackle during the second half of a game at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. The Huskies won 31-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Cal, Washington State eye rebound from tough losses

Two teams that watched potential Pac-12 Conference victories slip through their grasp last weekend hope to finish stronger this time when Washington State visits California on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

The home team has won the past five meetings in the 102-year-old rivalry, with Cal prevailing 33-20 two years ago behind three touchdown passes from Devon Modster, who was subbing for the injured Chase Garbers.

Garbers already has surpassed 1,000 passing yards in four games this season, including a season-high 319 last week in a 31-24 overtime loss at Washington.

Down seven in the extra session, Cal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) drove to the Washington 2 before Damien Moore fumbled at the goal line, preventing the Golden Bears from potentially either tying the score with a PAT or going for the road win with a two-pointer.

“In football you’ve got to have a short memory,” Garbers said afterward. “Obviously, losing (stinks). We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”

At least the Golden Bears came out of the game relatively healthy. The same could not be said of Washington State (1-3, 0-2), which held a 13-10 lead into the final five minutes at Utah before giving up two late scores in a 24-13 defeat.

Along the way, the Cougars saw standout running back Max Borghi sprain his left wrist, and three safeties left the game, so the visitors had only two remaining healthy safeties on the roster, according to coach Nick Rolovich.

Borghi rushed for 42 yards on six carries, with a long of 18 yards, before his injury on the first snap of the second quarter. Backups Deon McIntosh and Nakia Watson combined for 60 yards on 14 tries over the final three quarters.

“Those would be the two guys,” Rolovich said of this week’s possible replacements for Borghi, who has not been ruled out. X-rays taken over the weekend were negative. “They’re both very good in pass protection, both ready to play. It’s good to have two guys ready to go.”

Borghi was the team’s leading rusher, albeit with just 19 yards, and caught eight passes for 36 yards in the loss at Cal in 2019.

He has rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns in Washington State’s first four games. The squad has just two other rushing TDs, one coming from quarterback Jayden de Laura, who missed the Utah game with a knee injury.

He, like Borghi, remains questionable to return this week.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) warms up prior to their game against the Washington State Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Defense leads Utah past Washington State

T.J. Pledger scored a go-ahead touchdown and rushed for 117 yards, Clark Phillips returned an interception 54 yards for another late score and the Utah defense sparked a second-half comeback in a 24-13 win over Washington State in Pac-12 action on Saturday afternoon at Salt Lake City.

The talk all week around Utah (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) revolved around the quarterback position after starter Charlie Brewer quit earlier in the week, paving the way for Cameron Rising to seize the No. 1 spot after he rallied the team in a loss to San Diego State.

While Rising only threw for 137 yards, the defense stepped up to help Utah knock off Washington State (1-3, 0-2) in its conference opener. That was critical after the Utes’ offense fumbled the ball seven times, losing possession three times in a less-than-ideal showing.

Utah racked up eight sacks, notched three interceptions and limited the Cougars to 13 points despite being on the field for nearly 37 of the 60 minutes.

Devin Lloyd had a brilliant game for Utah with eight tackles, one sack and one interception, and fellow linebacker Karene Reid, tallied a team-high 15 tackles, one sack and an interception.

Utah scored the final 17 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter after falling behind 13-7 in the third.

Washington State scored just before and after halftime, with Dean Janikowski punching in a 20-yard, last-second field goal before the intermission and then scoring a touchdown following a fumble recovery early in the third quarter. Jarrett Guarantano hit De’Zhaun Stribling on a 26-yard pass for that score.

That turn of events turned a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 lead for the Cougars.

Guarantano completed 25 of 36 passes for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Pledger did his damage on just 10 carries, including a 59-yard rumble and a 20-yard scoring run with 4:43 left in the game.

The teams went scoreless in the first quarter, as the Cougars turned it over twice and the Utes had two punts.

Dean Janikowski registered the first points with a 39-yard field goal with 10:34 left in the second quarter.

A 22-yard scramble by Rising paved way for a touchdown by his backup, Ja’Quinden Jackson. That 2-yard Jackson score gave Utah a 7-3 lead.

After the Cougars’ 10-0 push, the Utes responded with a 28-yard field goal by Jadon Redding to start the comeback.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Carson, California, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) celebrates with wide receiver Solomon Enis (21) the successful two point conversion against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Utah QB Cameron Rising to start vs. Washington State

An early season starting-quarterback controversy for Utah’s football team came to an unexpected resolution Tuesday morning.

In a surprising turn of events, former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer left the Utes’ program three days after being benched part way through a disappointing showing in a loss to San Diego State.

Cameron Rising will start for the Utes (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) in Saturday’s conference game against Washington State (1-2, 0-1) in Salt Lake City.

Utah released a statement confirming Brewer’s departure shortly after Rising was listed atop the depth chart. Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson was listed in the primary backup spot.

“Charlie has decided to move on, and we wish him the best,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement.

Brewer, who passed for 9,700 yards in his four years at Baylor, was relieved by Rising in the third quarter against San Diego State on Saturday, and Rising ignited a late comeback to force overtime by throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Utah ended up losing 33-31 to the Aztecs in triple overtime.

“Cam came in and gave us that spark with his legs as well as with his arm — he ran for some big gains,” Whittingham said of Rising, who threw for 153 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 46 yards.

“He came in off the bench, and his first few passes might have been a little bit errant, but he settled in and did a great job once he got into a rhythm – and he got into a rhythm very quickly.”

Washington State got more than its fill of seeing a replacement quarterback last Saturday when freshman Jaxson Dart stepped in early in the game after Kedon Slovis was injured. Dart led Southern California to a 45-14 blowout win by completing 30-of-46 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns in his dazzling debut.

The Cougars went up 14-0 and led by a touchdown at halftime, but USC cruised to victory after scoring 28 points in the third quarter.

Washington State amassed only 279 yards of offense compared with 447 by the Trojans.

Cougars coach Nick Rolovich encouraged his players to “stay together” after the rough loss at home.

“See how you can get better,” Rolovich said, sharing the message he gave to his players. “We’ve got a long season in front of us.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) is hit hard by Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Amir Mujahid (48) and Washington State Cougars defensive back Armani Marsh (8) in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Jaxson Dart excels as USC rolls past Washington State

Jaxson Dart threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns in relief of an injured Kedon Slovis to help Southern California roll to a 45-14 win over Washington State on Saturday in Pullman, Wash.

USC (2-1, 1-1 Pac-12) overcame a 14-point deficit to cruise to a win in the debut of Trojans interim coach Donte Williams. Clay Helton was fired on Monday, two days after the then-No. 14 Trojans were pummeled 42-28 by Stanford.

The Cougars (1-2, 0-1) jumped ahead 14-0 in their Pac-12 opener when Jayden de Laura capped an 89-yard scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Travell Harris.

Washington State’s score followed a sack of Slovis, who was sidelined the rest of the game with an apparent neck injury.

Dart initially struggled, with his first drive ending when Daniel Isom intercepted a pass in Washington State territory. A second de Laura touchdown pass to Harris put the Cougars ahead by two scores.

From there, USC took over the game.

Dart threw the first of his four touchdown passes to Gary Bryant Jr., a connection of 38 yards just before halftime. The score marked the beginning of a 45-0 run.

Dart found Drake London for touchdowns of 5 and 31 yards. He also hooked up with Kyle Ford on a 36-yard strike for the latter’s first career touchdown reception.

Bryant rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave Southern California its first lead. Drake Jackson forced fumble on a sack for back-up Washington State quarterback Victor Gabalis during the ensuing possession.

Tui Tuipulotu returned the fumble for a touchdown and the rout was on.

The USC defense held Washington State to just 279 yards, while the Trojans offense put up 447. London led the prolific USC aerial attack with 13 receptions for 170 yards.

Bryant totaled 56 yards on three receptions, and Tahj Washington added three catches for 31 yards. Dart led USC in rushing with 32 yards.

de Laura finished with 117 yards and an interception before coming out due to an apparent leg injury.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA;  USC Trojans defensive backs coach Donte Williams attends the game between the USC Trojans and the Washington Huskies at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC begins post-Clay Helton era at Washington State

With an interim head coach and reeling from a blowout loss in Week 2, Southern California visits Pullman, Wash., for a Pac-12 showdown with Washington State on Saturday.

The Trojans (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) opened league play with a 42-28 loss at home to Stanford, which was not as close as the final score indicates. USC tacked on two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, well after the outcome was no longer in doubt.

The defeat marked the Trojans’ fourth by two touchdowns or more since the beginning of the 2019 season, and resulted in the dismissal of coach Clay Helton on Monday afternoon.

Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams was promoted to interim coach in Helton’s place, in the process becoming the first Black head coach in program history.

Williams called it a “humble, humble, humble experience,” during his first press conference on Tuesday evening, while also tempering personal expectations.

“There’s no I and me,” Williams said. “It’s us and we.”

The task of getting last season’s Pac-12 South division winner back on track likely starts with the offense.

USC sputtered in each of its first two games, sitting on 13 points through three quarters in the 30-7 season-opening win over San Jose State and the loss to Stanford. Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis finished Week 2 by leading a pair of touchdown drives — including a scoring pass to receiver Drake London, who Helton said on Sunday “tweaked” his back but should be full-go at Washington State — but also gave up a pick-six.

In both of their contests, the Trojans failed to generate touchdowns when getting into the red zone, combining for just four in nine trips inside the 20-yard line.

Washington State (1-1, 0-0) has not been significantly better on its red-zone opportunities, converting just 6 of 12 into touchdowns. It cost the Cougars in a 26-23 Week 1 loss to Utah State, when they settled for field goals on three trips inside the 20 and failed to score on another.

In a 44-24 victory in Week 2 against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Portland State, the Cougars reached the end zone on 5 of 7 red-zone chances.

“Communication,” wide receiver Travell Harris said Tuesday is central to Washington State improving its offensive production in Week 2. “Making sure everybody (is) on the same page, getting timing down with the quarterback, whoever is back there.”

Washington State has played two quarterbacks for significant snaps in the opening contests. After Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano went just 8 of 13 for 56 yards against Utah State, however, Jayden de Laura reassumed the job he held for much of 2020.

De Laura passed for a touchdown against Utah State and another three against Portland State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars Lincoln Victor (85) celebrates a tackle on special team during a game against the Utah State Aggies in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. The Aggies26-23. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State looks to bounce back against Portland State

It appears Washington State will have a new starting quarterback for the second game of the season.

Jarrett Guarantano, a graduate transfer from Tennessee who won the job in summer camp, suffered a left knee injury when being sacked for a safety in the second quarter of last weekend’s 26-23 home loss to Utah State.

Last year’s starter, Jayden de Laura, came on in relief and is expected to start Saturday when the Cougars (0-1) play host to Portland State (0-1) in Pullman, Wash.

The only update Wazzu coach Nick Rolovich provided on Guarantano was that he didn’t think it was a season-ending injury.

“I think I would lean to Jayden right now with all things considered,” Rolovich said when asked about Saturday’s starter. “I thought Jayden came in – to his credit – with maybe a more mature mindset, and handled the decision when we told him (Guarantano was going to start against Utah State) very well.”

De Laura, a sophomore who entered with the Cougars trailing 5-3 and guided them to a 23-11 lead before a late Utah State rally, was 12 of 22 for 155 yards, with one touchdown. Guarantano was 8 of 13 for 56 yards before leaving with the injury.

Still, Rolovich wasn’t pleased his team blew a 12-point lead in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

“We had an opportunity on both sides of the ball to win that game,” he said. “We don’t care (which unit) wins the game, we’ve just got to be looking forward to that opportunity to win the game.”

Portland State suffered a 49-35 loss at Hawaii in its season opener after falling behind by 28 points in the first quarter.

Vikings quarterback Davis Alexander threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns.

“It was a slow start,” Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said. “We talked about their speed and addressed it in practice, but we didn’t seem ready for it.

“I’m proud of the team though, because they did finally stick their feet in the ground and did what needed to be done. We just needed to do that from the first snap.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) scrambles out of the pocket against Utah Utes defensive end Xavier Carlton (44) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah’s second-half surge puts away Washington State

Ty Jordan rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns as Utah rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit to defeat Washington State 45-28 in the season finale for both Pacific-12 Conference teams Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jordan scored on a 13-yard touchdown run with 6:29 remaining to break a 28-all tie. Jadon Redding added a 44-yard field goal with 2:37 left and Clark Phillips III returned an interception 36 yards for a score with 2:06 to go to clinch the victory for the Utes (3-2).

Quarterback Drew Lisk Jr., a senior from nearby Draper, Utah, who was seeing his first action of the season, replaced an ineffective Jake Bentley late in the first half and completed 15 of 26 passes for 152 yards. Britain Covey made six receptions for 134 yards and a score.

For Washington State (1-3), Jayden de Laura completed 17 of 28 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a score. Max Borghi, a preseason all-conference first-team selection, played for the first time in 2020 because of a back injury and carried 10 times for 95 yards and a touchdown.

But Borghi’s first fumble in 250 career touches in the fourth quarter led to Jordan’s go-ahead score.

Jordan, a freshman, rushed for 147 yards last week against USC and a career-high 167 two weeks ago against Oregon State.

De Laura threw a touchdown pass and rushed for a score in a 30-second span late in the second quarter to give the Cougars a 28-7 advantage.

The Cougars built a 14-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown run by Borghi and an 11-yard run by Deon McIntosh.

Bentley threw a 91-yard touchdown pass to Covey to pull the Utes within 14-7.

The Cougars then went 75 yards in four plays, with de Laura hitting Jamire Calvin on an 8-yard scoring strike with 1:51 left in the half. Calvin had seven receptions for 104 yards.

Two plays later, Bentley threw an interception that WSU’s Jahad Woods returned 36 yards to the 3-yard line. De Laura scored on a bootleg on the next play to make it 28-7.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears linebacker Kuony Deng (8) gestures after defeating the Oregon Ducks at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cal, Washington State still hoping for bowl bid

California and Washington State, both in need of a win to boost their bowl chances, duel in what amounts to an elimination game Saturday night in Pullman, Wash.

The contest is, for now, scheduled as the Pac-12 regular-season finale for each squad.

The home team has won the last five in a row in the rivalry, with Cal getting rushing and receiving touchdowns from running back Christopher Brown Jr. last year in a 33-20 home win.

The Bears (1-3, 1-3 Pac-12) were staring at a winless 2020 season a week ago before surprising then No. 23 Oregon 21-17 in Berkeley, Calif. Now Cal is a win over the Cougars (1-2, 1-2), coupled with a victory next week if/when the Pac-12 adds a game to its schedule as expected, from a 3-3 campaign and a puncher’s chance at a third straight trip to the postseason.

Washington State is in a similar position, although it enters the contest on a two-game losing streak. Still, a win Saturday and another next week could still produce a 3-2 record that might warrant bowl-scout attention.

All teams are bowl-eligible this year regardless of record due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cal got a big game from Nikko Remigio in its victory over Oregon. The wideout had six catches for 81 yards and what turned out to be the difference-making touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“He’s a true playmaker,” quarterback Chase Garbers said of Remigio, who had two long kick returns nullified by penalties in Cal’s earlier loss to Oregon State. “We put the ball in his hands and he’s going to do something.”

Washington State dominated the passing numbers in last year’s game, with Brandon Arconado and Easop Winston Jr. combining for 21 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown.

But both have since graduated, turning the Cougars into more of a running team this season. That could be even more the case against Cal if standout back Max Borghi is finally able to return from a back injury sustained before the opener.

Washington State freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura was pulled after three quarters last week in the Cougars’ 38-13 loss at Southern California.

Wideout Travell Harris expects a bounce-back performance this week from de Laura.

“He dealt with the adversity good,” Harris said. “It’s not just about Jayden or me or coach (Nick Rolovich). We all have to come together. Jayden had excellent energy. He did a good job.”

The game matches a Cal team that’s winless on the road in conference play (0-2) against a Cougars squad that has played just once at home, a 43-29 defeat to Oregon.

–Field Level Media