As the first reports came from the hospital, the mood lightened a bit for Washington State on what should have been a purely satisfying...
PULLMAN — As the first reports came from the hospital, the mood lightened a bit for Washington State on what should have been a purely satisfying evening.
Cougars quarterback Gary Rogers, taken away by ambulance with a spine fracture in the third quarter that ended his season, but was showing positive signs Saturday night after his team had whipped Portland State 48-9 at Martin Stadium.
Washington State trainer Bill Drake described Rogers’ injury as a “stable cervical spine fracture” that would not require surgery, with an expected recovery time of three to four months. He remained in Pullman Memorial Hospital overnight for observation.
With No. 1 quarterback Kevin Lopina also hurt, third-stringer Marshall Lobbestael wound up applying the finishing touches on the Cougars’ first win, a much-needed one after three lopsided losses that had left them with some of the worst statistics in the country.
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The redshirt freshman Lobbestael took the field after Rogers’ injury and completed 9 of 12 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
“It happened really fast,” said Lobbestael, an Oak Harbor High School graduate. “You don’t expect to go in if you’re third string before the game. But once I went in, the offensive line and the running backs and everyone were supportive and really encouraged me with a lot of positive feedback.”
Lopina went down with a bruised right shoulder in the second quarter.
“It’s pretty disappointing to have two quarterbacks go down with injuries,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “I do believe both of them are going to be OK. We’ll evaluate their progress through the week.”
Portland State (1-2), a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) team, committed turnovers on its first two possessions, trailed 17-3 at halftime and watched the Cougars (1-3) produce touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half.
The game was delayed for several minutes after Rogers took a hit that drew a roughing-the-passer penalty with 11:09 left in the third quarter. Players stood near the ambulance as Rogers was placed on a stretcher and taken to the vehicle.
“It made us want to play for him even harder,” WSU receiver Brandon Gibson said. “Right after Gary got hurt, we came out and started putting points on the board. We had something to play for.”
The hit, late but not vicious, was by safety Aaron Dickson. Rogers fell to the turf and twisted around in a way that initially suggested a collarbone injury. Wulff said Rogers had suffered a minor injury in that area the previous week.
Before the injury, Rogers teamed with Gibson for the most decisive and most entertaining play of the game, with the senior receiver snaking his way to a 43-yard catch-and-run touchdown that pushed the Cougars’ lead to 24-3 early in the third quarter.
Rogers, who had started WSU’s first two games, has been backing up Lopina the past two, but Lopina went out in the second quarter on a blind-side sack by Eloka Anyaorah.
So the closer role was left to Lobbestael, who had thrown only two previous college passes.
“He was at the top of his game and did everything well,” Gibson said. “He ran our offense to a T.”
Two plays after Rogers’ injury, Lobbestael found Jeshua Anderson in the end zone for a 14-yard score that made it 31-3. And on the Cougars’ next series, he hooked up with a tackle-breaking Devin Frischknecht for a 50-yard TD.
Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory rushed for 80 and 78 yards, respectively, as the Cougars racked up 277 ground yards. Frischknecht caught five passes for 110 yards for the Cougars.
The Vikings attempted 49 passes, with starting quarterback Drew Hubel completing 12 of 27 for 123 yards.
The Cougars, who entered the weekend ranked last in the country in rushing defense, held the Vikings to 8 yards on the ground on 11 carries.
The Cougars induced turnovers on two of Portland State’s first four plays from scrimmage, starting with Hallston Higgins’ interception of Hubel on the game’s first snap. Chris Ivory capitalized with a 5-yard TD run. The Vikings’ second blunder, a fumbled handoff by Hubel, was offset by Chris Assily’s interception of Lopina, leading to a field goal that made it 7-3.
The Cougars scored on their next possession, with Dwight Tardy gaining 18 yards on a shovel-pass reception and scoring on a 1-yard run.
How They Scored
|12:57||WSU: Christopher Ivory 5 run||Nico Grasu kick|
|Drive: 3 plays, 17 yards, 1:54. Key plays: Hallston Higgins 15 interception return to the PSU 17, PSU personal-foul penalty gives WSU first down at the PSU 12. Washington State 7, Portland State 0.|
|5:44||PSU: Danny Urrego 23 FG|
|Drive: 12 plays, 78 yards, 4:40. Key plays: Chris Assily interception at the PSU 16, Drew Hubel 31 pass to Aaron Woods, WSU holding penalty on third-and-10 gives PSU first down, Hubel 19 pass to Mario D’Ambrosio on third-and-17 to the WSU 2. Washington State 7, Portland State 3.|
|2:36||WSU: Dwight Tardy 1 run||Grasu kick|
|Drive: 9 plays, 49 yards, 3:01. Key plays: Ivory 35 kickoff return to the PSU 49, Lopina 14 pass to Devin Frischknecht on third-and-10, Lopina 17 pass to Tardy to the PSU 1. Washington State 14, Portland State 3.|
|5:12||WSU: Grasu 26 FG|
|Drive: 14 plays, 89 yards, 5:38. Key plays: Lopina 21 and 20 passes to Brandon Gibson, Tardy 23 run to the PSU 9. Washington State 17, Portland State 3.|
|13:26||WSU: B.Gibson 43 pass from Gary Rogers||Grasu kick|
|Drive: 4 plays, 72 yards, 1:28. Key plays: Tardy 12 and 11 runs. Washington State 24, Portland State 3.|
|10:46||WSU: J.Anderson 14 pass from M.Lobbestl||Grasu kick|
|Drive: 6 plays, 86 yards, 1:39. Key plays: Ivory 19 run, Rogers 12 run, PSU roughing-the-passer penalty gives WSU first down on the PSU 33, Ivory 19 run. Washington State 31, Portland State 3.|
|7:23||WSU: D.Frischknecht 53 pass from Lobbestl||Grasu kick|
|Drive: 3 plays, 58 yards, 1:12. Key play: Chantz Staden 23 punt return to the WSU 42. Washington State 38, Portland State 3.|
|4:15||WSU: Grasu 30 FG|
|Drive: 7 plays, 17 yards, 2:37. Key play: Greg Trent 18 interception to the PSU 30. Washington State 41, Portland State 3.|
|2:55||PSU: L.Kirven 9 pass from Tygue Howland||kick failed|
|Drive: 5 plays, 61 yards, 1:13. Key plays: Howland 21 and 16 passes to D’Ambrosio. Washington State 41, Portland State 9.|
|11:02||WSU: Logwone Mitz 1 run||Grasu kick|
|Drive: 13 plays, 71 yards, 6:45. Key play: Marshall Lobbestael 22 pass to Frischknecht to the PSU 3. Washington State 48, Portland State 9.|
|Avg. per rush||0.7||5.4|
|Sacked by-Yds. lost||1-10||3-26|
|Net yds. passing||238||361|
|Yards per pass att.||4.9||8.8|
|Kick end zone TB||0||2|
|Total ret. yds.||29||60|
|Punt returns||1-(- 1)||3-27|