ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday and a Colorado State assistant coach had a well-publicized exchange Saturday after Halliday threw the first of six touchdown passes in WSU’s 48-45 New Mexico Bowl defeat against the Rams.
Replays showed Halliday, who had rolled toward the CSU sideline before hitting River Cracraft for a 25-yard score, pumping his fist in exultation.
Suddenly, he wheeled and replays showed defensive-line coach Greg Lupfer mouthing a couple of words at Halliday. Another assistant appeared to try to keep the two apart. It was unclear how it started.
“The coach grabbed me and said some profane things to me,” said Halliday. “That’s all I’ll say about it.”
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It appeared it was the second assistant, not Lupfer, who might have touched Halliday in an attempt to keep peace, however.
Afterward, Lupfer said, “I am truly sorry for what I said. It was wrong and those words do not represent who I am and what I believe in. I apologize for this embarrassment I caused Colorado State University, this team and my family.”
The surprise of the day for WSU was substitute running back Theron West, a 5-foot-7 junior who signed in 2012, redshirted last year and had a single carry this season before the bowl game.
He finished with three carries for 17 yards and caught three passes for 50, including a 28-yard touchdown. And he even blocked an early CSU punt, leading to WSU’s second score.
“I had a great time,” said West. “I worked very hard for this.”
As for what might have elevated him to a starting role when WSU came out in a two-back set, West said, “Honestly, I can’t even tell you.”
WSU made a switch in offensive linemen for the game, moving guard Joe Dahl out to left tackle and moving Gunnar Eklund, the sophomore from Lake Stevens, inside to left guard. Little was revealed about why.
“Uh, I’m not really sure; you’d have to ask them,” said Dahl.
He said he was told about the switch at the beginning of bowl practices and added, “It’s tough switching positions wherever you’re at, but I’m used to that position, so it was a pretty easy transition.”
Without elaborating on the reason, Leach said, “We were going to do it for a while. The biggest thing was, we had some time between this game and the end of the season (Apple Cup) to do it.”
The line didn’t have a great day, allowing five sacks and committing a couple of false-start penalties.
Cracraft had a big day to lead WSU, catching nine passes for 125 yards and WSU’s first score.
“I kind of had a feeling River was going to be special when the freshmen got here in June,” said Halliday. “He came out in seven-on-seven drills (in the summer) and really made a difference. That kid just really loves football. He grew up quite a bit today.”
• In his last college game, Casey Locker, cousin of former Washington QB Jake Locker, had a career-high 14 tackles.
• LB Justin Sagote, referring to a Colorado State chop-block penalty on lineman Junior Gauta, said, “They started playing a little dirty.” But West downplayed any chippiness, saying, “We came to play football.”
|Washington State bowl history|
|The Cougars are 6-5 in bowl games.|
|Dec. 21, 2013||New Mexico Bowl||Colorado State 48, WSU 45|
|Dec. 30, 2003||Holiday Bowl||WSU 28, Texas 20|
|Jan. 1, 2003||Rose Bowl||Oklahoma 34, WSU 14|
|Dec. 31, 2001||Sun Bowl||WSU 33, Purdue 27|
|Jan. 1, 1998||Rose Bowl||Michigan 21, WSU 16|
|Dec. 31, 1994||Alamo Bowl||WSU 10, Baylor 3|
|Dec. 29, 1992||Copper Bowl||WSU 31, Utah 28|
|Dec. 25, 1988||Aloha Bowl||WSU 24, Houston 22|
|Dec. 18, 1981||Holiday Bowl||BYU 38, WSU 36|
|Jan. 1, 1931||Rose Bowl||Alabama 24, WSU 0|
|Jan. 1, 1916||Rose Bowl||WSU 14, Brown 0|