Playing without tight end Cody Boyd, one of four early season starters sitting out with injury, the Cougars nearly matched Cal in net yards. And the Cougar D, which gave up two first half TDs (the third one was set up by WSU's punt team), became the first stop corps in five weeks not to surrender 40-plus points to the Bears.
Sophomore receiver Brandon Gibson was the Cougars' offensive star, posting a team-high eight catches for 130 yards. Junior back Derrell Hutsona also turned heads with a breakout fourth quarter run of 7y0 yards.
On defense, Cougar safety Eric Frampton had an interception, forced a fumble that he recovered in the third quarter and had 12 tackles, according Robertson. Last season, Frampton led the Cougar defense with 87 tackles (52 solo).
“He’s a great leader and really positive,” Doba told the Cougar radio broadcast team.
Cal entered Martin Stadium winning five straight by an average score of 44-18, and were coming off a headline-grabbing 45-24 win against then-No. 11 Oregon.
In Cal’s five previous games, Longshore completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,325 yards and 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Against the Cougars, Longshore was 13 for 24 with 154 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Tight end Jed Collins forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, but California recovered it in a scramble, and gained a first down on their opening draw play.
The Cougars picked up their first sack when right tackle Ropati Pitoitua dropped Nate Longshore for a loss. Later in Cal’s drive, safety Husain Abdullah grabbed his first interception (Longshore’s sixth) on the Washington State 7 yard line.
Of the Cougars’ first six interceptions this season, six were by defensive ends.
An early turning point came when the Bears forced a punt, blocked it and recovered the ball on the Cougars’ 5-yard line. Cal tailback Marshawn Lynch ran to the endzone and kicker Tom Schneider kept alive his PAT streak (32), giving the Bears a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Brandon Gibson ignited the Washington State offense in the first quarter with a 55-yard reception on a deep post route, moving the sticks to Cal’s 28 yard line. But the Cougars couldn’t convert on fourth down, giving Cal the ball back on the Washington State 28.
Longshore ended Cal’s drive with a 1-yard QB sneak, and Cal had a 14-0 lead after a Schneider kick.
Alex Brink, who entered with 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns (110 for 183), orchestrated a Cougar drive that led to the Cal 5 yard-line. On third-and-5, Loren Langley booted a 25-yard field goal, trimming the Bears lead to 14-3 with 10:30 remaining in the first half.
The Cougar defense, which entered leading all Division I schools in sacks, forced a punt from the Cal 48. Brink threw three consecutive completions to three different receivers, moving 26 yards including a 2-yard Brink run. Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes ended the Cougars momentum, grabbing his sixth interception (13th career), setting up first-and-10 on the Cal 12.
The Bears followed with a 14-play, 88-yard scoring drive that gave them a 21-3 lead they took into halftime.
Washington State had 163 first-half passing yards to Cal’s 128, according to Bob Robertson’s halftime report. Brink collected them all, going 13-fot-20. Cal had the fist-half rushing advantage, collecting 102 yards to the Cougars’ 3, all by Dwight Tardy.
Backup quarterback Gary Rogers, who led the Cougars’ longest scoring drive in the season opener against Auburn, started the third quarter. Rogers couldn’t spark the Washington State offense, however, going three-and-out.
The Cougar defense forced a Cal punt, and Rogers found Jason Hill for 21-yards on the second play of the ensuing drive. Michael Bumpus made another highlight catch, moving Washington State to the Cal 41.
But free safety Bernard Hicks intercepted Rogers, and Cal marched to the Washington State 21.
It was about there where safety Eric Frampton laid a punishing hit on tailback Justin Forsett, knocking the ball loose for Frampton to recover on the 19.
Coach Bill Doba said following the game that Rogers suffered a shoulder sprain on his non-throwing shoulder. His status for Oregon will be determined as the week unfolds. He completed 2-of-6 passes for 35 yards and an interception against Cal.
With Brink back at quarterback after Rogers' exit, the Cougars’ drive ended similarily with Darryl Blunt’s fourth punt.
The Cougar D forced a punt, however, and Hutsona ran the following play 70 yards to Cal’s 5 yard line. A 4-yard third-down pass from Brink to Dwight Tardy was reviewed and called back to the 1-yard line, where the Cougars could not score on Brink’s quarterback sneak.
Frampton ended Cal’s following drive, grabbed his third interception this season on the Cal 38. Washington State moved to the Cal 12, but Brink ended the drive with two incompletions.
Sophomore linebacker Cory Evans had perhaps his best game at Washington State. His stats, four tackles with .5 tackles for loss, don't reflect the omnipresent thorn that he was in the Bears' side, particularly in the first half when Cal threatened to pile points on the board before WSU clamped down in the second half. Due to Evans' and his stop-corps mates, the game remained in reach throughout. Alas, the offense could never find their rhythm.
“We’re pretty beat up on the offensive line, to be honest with you, playing with a couple redshirt freshman,” Doba told the Cougar radio broadcast team. “So that makes it tough.”
Doba was also bothered that Washington State was unable to convert on any of their 11 third-down plays.
“That’s inexcusable,” he told the Cougar radio broadcast team. “That’s unacceptable.”
Washington State hosts No. 18 Oregon, which beat UCLA 30-20 Saturday, at Martin Stadium on Oct. 21.