Cougars fall to Arizona State, 27-14
Washington State had minus 54 yards rushing in loss to Sun Devils.
Lopsided losingThe Cougars are keeping closer to their opponents this season, but still struggling overall.
Opponents total scoring vs. Cougars scoring this season
• 6 games
Opponents total scoring vs. Cougars scoring last season
• 13 games
PULLMAN — It was supposed to be homecoming. Instead it turned into Washington State's own episode of "Lost."
And a multi-arc episode at that.
Twelve sacks. Twenty-three negative plays. Minus-54 yards rushing. Five penalties on offense. Four turnovers.
When the confusing, convoluted offensive day — for both teams — was over, Washington State had lost, 27-14, to Arizona State before 26,010 in Martin Stadium.
It was another loss built up front.
"We just got completely dominated from their defensive line and our offensive line, more of a domination than I've ever seen," Washington State coach Paul Wulff said. "It just put so much pressure on our quarterbacks."
More consistent pressure than freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel said he'd ever seen.
Tuel, making his second start, was sacked nine times, including being flattened on the game's second play by Arizona State defensive end James Brooks.
The pressure was intense enough Wulff and offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy replaced Tuel with Marshall Lobbestael for the last half of the second quarter and the start of the third.
"It didn't matter what quarterback was back there, he was going to get hit all the time," Wulff said. "Sometimes pulling him back, let him see some things, is good. When he came back, he played a lot better football."
But the pressure remained.
WSU's offensive line was the same group that struggled last weekend at Oregon. Only center Kenny Alfred, who sat out the fourth quarter after suffering a deep cut on his leg, and tackle Micah Hannam had more than two games experience at the positions they played. The other three spots were held down by two freshmen and a rarely-used junior.
"I wouldn't say I was frustrated, I would say I was disappointed," Hannam said, "because I couldn't help out the defense when they helped us out."
Despite being handed six turnovers, the WSU offense could take advantage of only one, and that after ASU (3-2 overall, 1-1 in Pac-10 play) had built a 19-0 third-quarter lead.
Andy Mattingly's interception and 13-yard return put the Cougars (1-5, 0-4 in the Pac-10) at the Arizona State 31. After losing three yards on a run, Tuel, who had returned the possession prior, found Jared Karstetter for a 12-yard gain. The next play was another run with another yard loss.
On fourth-and-2, Tuel play faked, then rolled to his left. Daniel Blackledge was in the back corner of the end zone, though Terrell Carr had good coverage. Still, Tuel, who finished 11 of 22 for 175 yards, tried to loft the ball to his receiver. It fluttered, then floated toward Carr's hands.
But Karstetter came from out of the picture to dive and grab it in front of a shocked Carr. It was Tuel's first touchdown pass.
"I love him for it," Tuel said of Karstetter. "Obviously, not a very good throw. But I was just running for my life, just trying to throw it up and give our guys a chance."
Two possessions later, Tuel tried again.
Stuck on the 1-yard line after an ASU kickoff and a four-yard loss on first down, Tuel dropped back into his end zone and lofted the ball down the left sideline toward Johnny Forzani.
Forzani went up at the 29-yard line, wrestled the ball away from Josh Jordan, kept his balance and raced down the field. Jordan had no chance. The 99-yard pass-and-run was the longest scrimmage play in WSU history.
Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson was woozy when he was knocked down in the third quarter when one of his players was pushed into him, but stayed on the sideline.
"They knocked me colder than a cucumber," Erickson said after the game. "I was down and out."
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