Washington State misses potential game-winning field goal as Cal football beats Cougars, 60-59

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PULLMAN, Wash. — A game that featured 1,261 passing yards, saw Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday throw for an FBS-record 734 yards and included two Cal kick-off returns for a touchdown came down to a 19-yard field goal attempt with essentially no ticks remaining on the clock.

The Cougars, stuffed at the one-yard line the play before, lined up for the all-but-guaranteed kick. Angled to the right of the uprights, Cougar kicker Quentin Breshears’ kick didn’t get enough pull and flew wide right. Somehow and someway, the Cal football team escaped with a 60-59 win at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington.

“We caught a bunch of breaks,” said quarterback Jared Goff. “It’s kind of like the football gods are on our side right now.”

In a contest featuring two highly volatile offenses, Washington State’s offense struck first. Opening up the scoring, quarterback Connor Halliday, who threw for six touchdowns, lofted a weighted pass over the top of Cal’s secondary to Vince Mayle. The result was a 90-yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead for Washington State (2-4, 1-2 in Pac-12).

After the Cougars tacked on a field goal, Cal (4-1, 2-1) finally answered with some points of its own. With the ball on the Washington State 27-yard line, Goff fired a quick screen to Trevor Davis on the left flank. Davis caught the pass with ease and then zigzagged his way into the end zone.

Davis’ touchdown was the only time Cal made it into the end zone in the first half. Coming into the game averaging 47.5 points per game, the Bear Raid put up just 13 points in the first half.

“We were just kind of feeling them out a little too much, especially on my part, instead of just attacking them,” Goff said. “Second half, we had nothing to lose, we started attacking them.”

The Bears opened the second half with a bang. After Stephen Anderson managed to turn a short pass into a 55-yard gain by tightroping the right sideline, running back Daniel Lasco weaved his way through the Cougars’ defense and into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

And Cal, after entering halftime down by 11, quickly trimmed Washington State’s lead to 24-20 less than a minute into the second half.

Less than three minutes later, Lasco tacked on another score, this one coming after a 40-yard bomb from Goff to Chris Harper and a subsequent 15-yard run by Lasco. With 11:31 left in the third quarter, Cal held a 27-24 advantage.

It didn’t take long for the Cougars to regain the lead, scoring on an 86-yard touchdown pass. After the Cougars recovered a surprise onside kick, the Cougars stretched their lead to 38-27. Then, Cal’s Trevor Davis decided to take the game into his own hands.

First, Davis returned a kickoff 100 yards to bring the score to 38-34. After Washington State answered with another touchdown, Davis did it again, returning another kick for 98 yards and again cut the lead to four. Again, Washington State responded with a touchdown. Entering the final frame, the Bears trailed by 11 but were inside Washington State’s five-yard line.

A third and goal touchdown pass from Goff to Bryce Treggs made the score 52-48 in favor of the Cougars. On Cal’s next possession, Goff gave the Bears the lead, hitting Treggs again on a 21-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, however, and Cal’s lead was just two.

“We have a philosophy,” Treggs said. “Our job is to score more points than the other team.”

After the Cougars’ offense seized the lead again via a Gerard Wicks touchdown run, Goff and Davis went for six again, this time on a 51-yard strike down the left sideline. Cal’s two-point conversion was no good, and its lead was 60-59 with 3:18 remaining.

It appeared that Washington State would respond again after a lengthy drive down to Cal’s one-yard line, but Breshears’ field goal sailed to the right of the uprights, all but ending the game.

“It’s weird, it was kind of a good feeling on our sidelines,” Dykes said. “There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. A lot of times, guys could have given up and said, ‘Oh well.’ 

Sean Wagner-McGough covers football. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @seanjwagner.