Halliday throws 6 TD passes, Cougars beat Portland St. 59-21

  • Associated Press
  • Saturday, September 13, 2014 9:05pm
  • SportsSports

PULLMAN, Wash. — After Washington State lost its first two games of the season, Saturday’s contest against Portland State of the FCS suddenly loomed very large.

Connor Halliday, the nation’s leading passer, threw for 544 yards and six touchdowns as Washington State beat Portland State 59-21.

“It was important to get a win,” Halliday said. “We really needed to get a win.”

“We needed the W,” added receiver River Cracraft.

No. 2 Oregon will be coming to Pullman next weekend, but the Cougars took time Saturday to savor the victory over the overmatched Vikings of the Big Sky Conference.

“There were a lot of good things,” WSU coach Mike Leach said of his team’s performance.

That includes a team record 706 yards of total offense, including a Pac-12 record 630 team passing yards. The Cougars also had success running the ball, and throwing short passes to the running backs. The ground game was almost non-existent in the losses to Rutgers and Nevada that opened the season.

“I thought we did a better job of distributing the ball to (running backs),” Leach said.

The Cougars also limited Portland State to 362 yards of offense.

“The best part was our team playing together, offense, defense and special teams, for a significant period,” Leach said.

Isiah Myers caught 11 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns for Washington State (1-2).

Kieran McDonagh led Portland State (1-2) with 269 passing yards and a touchdown. Alex Toureen caught seven passes for 100 yards.

“We just had too many opportunities early that we let slip through our fingers,” Portland State coach Nigel Burton said. “Great teams find ways to take advantage of those opportunities that their opponent gives them.”

Halliday, a senior, completed 41 of 62 passes and was intercepted twice. Freshman Luke Falk came in late and threw for 86 more yards, including an 84-yard touchdown pass to Dom Williams. Williams caught four passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars.

The seven touchdown passes tied a WSU team record.

Halliday came into the game leading the nation with 921 passing yards.

Washington State has never lost to an FCS opponent and the Cougars scored on three straight possessions, starting late in the first quarter, to take control.

Washington State’s Gerard Wicks powered over from the 1-yard line, completing an 80-yard drive in 14 plays. The drive featured nine catches or rushes by the WSU running backs, which coach Mike Leach said this week was essential for his Air Raid offense to have success.

Portland State drove to the WSU 10 on its next possession. But running back Shaq Richard fumbled and Washington State’s Destiny Vaeao recovered on the 7 to kill the drive.

Halliday connected with Myers on a 67-yard pass play. Five plays later Halliday fired a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cracraft in the end zone and Washington State led 14-0 early in the second quarter.

Portland State was forced to punt on its next possession, and Rickey Galvin returned the ball 44 yards to the PSU 17. Halliday on the first play connected with Williams, who ran into the end zone for a 21-0 WSU lead.

Portland State got the ball on downs at Washington State’s 44, but McDonagh was intercepted in the end zone by Charleston White to end the threat. Washington State marched 80 yards in six plays, with Halliday hitting Vince Mayle in the end zone for a 28-0 lead that stood at halftime.

Halliday had 321 passing yards and three touchdowns in the first half, while Myers caught seven passes for 150 yards in the first. Portland State was held to 119 total yards in the first half.

Portland State finally got on the scoreboard on the first series of the second half. Richard scored on a 7-yard run, capping an 11-play, 85-yard drive, to cut WSU’s lead to 28-7.

After a Washington State punt, the Vikings marched 71 yards in six plays. McDonagh completed the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Kasey Closs in the end zone as Portland State cut WSU’s lead to 28-14.

Washington State replied with a 75-yard drive that ended with Halliday’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Myers, for a 35-14 lead late in the third. Myers caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Halliday on WSU’s next possession for a 42-14 lead.

Halliday was intercepted by Patrick Onwuasor, who returned the ball 42 yards for a touchdown, but Portland State still trailed 42-21 with 13:19 left in the game.

Halliday and Myers connected on a 55-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth.

This is Portland State’s second game against a Pac-12 team this season. It lost 29-14 at Oregon State on Aug. 30, after leading at halftime. The Vikings dropped to 2-32 all-time against FBS schools, including 0-14 against Pac-12 schools.

Portland State piled up 507 yards of offense in edging lower-division Western Oregon 45-38 last week, but couldn’t get untracked against the Cougars.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Rich Haldi. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: Rich Haldi

The WSU alum and longtime EvCC athletic administrator helped found the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Arlington junior quarterback Leyton Martin throws a short pass during the second quarter of the season opener against Kamiak on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
3 games to watch in Week 4 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 4.

Lakewood High School.
Refs blown call means Lakewood football game will restart in 3rd quarter

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

Longtime Edmonds School District wrestling coach John Casebeer was also a member of the Snohomish County Wrestling Officials Association for 27 years. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: John Casebeer

The 1963 Edmonds graduate spent 30 successful years as a wrestling coach in the Edmonds School District.

Most Read