Thanks to sophomore kicker Nico Grasu – the Washington State University football team can still lay claim to the nation's second-longest scoring streak – extending that to 279 consecutive games [behind Michigan at 293]. But that is all they can lay claim to after failing to score a touchdown in their 28-3 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Grasu, a transfer from Moorpark Community College, hit a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter to salvage the streak but the Cougars were able to nothing else offensively for the remainder of the evening.
The game opened on a positive note for Wazzu as the defense came out inspired and stymied the UCLA offense on their first three possessions including what appeared to be a safety when they tackled Bruin running back Kahlil Bell in the end zone. But after replays were reviewed, there was inconclusive evidence to award the safety to the Cougar defense.
After the ensuing punt came perhaps the most crucial Wazzu possession of the game. Failing to get a first down after a third down attempt, the Cougars were faced with a 4th-and-two situation on the UCLA 36-yard line – too far for a field goal attempt for Grasu. Wazzu punter had Reid Forrest had pinned UCLA inside the 10 and inside the five on the Cougars' previous two possessions but head coach Paul Wulff decided to go for the conversion instead. Redshirt freshman Marshall Lobbestael's pass attempt fell incomplete and the Bruins, now starting from their best field position of the young game, proceeded to use that momentum to drive down the field for the first scoring drive. UCLA tacked on another touchdown in a scoring drive that repeatedly victimized Cougar corner Romeo Pellum with quick passes to the Bruins' taller receivers and it was 14-0 at halftime.
Grasu hit his field goal with plenty of leg and the Wazzu defense stopped UCLA on a three-and-out in their first second half possession. But on the ensuing possession, Lobbestael tossed an interception to Bruin defensive back Alterraun Verner and UCLA quickly scored to make it 21-3. Bell tacked on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the final score.
Wazzu held Bell to only 43 yards rushing on 21 carries and had their best defensive effort to date against the rushing attack of a Division I team – holding the Bruins to 100 yards. Forrest also continues to have a stellar year in punting, with three more kicks inside the 20-yard line. Offensively, sophomore receiver Jeshua Anderson had one of the best games of his career, making several leaping catches and finished with three catches for 61 yards.
Wazzu plays at Oregon State in Corvallis next Saturday at 3:30 pm.
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