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PULLMAN – Things I never thought I’d see:

• A college football team amassing 812 yards of total offense and losing.

• A third quarter that ends with a 28-all tie. For that quarter, I mean.

• A team gets the ball seven times in the second half and scores on all seven possessions.

And after all that, a game of preposterous performance ends when a kicker fluffs a 19-yard field goal.

Believe it all, for it happened on a homecoming Saturday night at Martin Stadium, where California won one of the league’s all-time wacko games, 60-59, over Washington State.

“You’re always nervous,” said WSU quarterback Connor Halliday, talking about the absence of certainty on a field-goal attempt.

It was Halliday who threw for 734 yards, an NCAA record for the hundred and a quarter years or so that the game has been played. And yet, it’s on Halliday that the number didn’t end at 736.

The Cougars, now 2-4, are a flawed team, but until this night, they might not have realized how flawed. In addition to missing the clinching field goal, they allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the insane third quarter.

They blitzed with impunity all night long, and still, they couldn’t get to Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for 527 yards. It’s tempting to say that was chump change in a game like this, but these teams could play until Tuesday and the Cougars couldn’t have done anything defensively to bother Goff, who led his team to 47 second-half points. Yes, 47.

In the era of football on roller skates, this is Cal: Some 328 points have been scored in its last three games, and the Bears survived this night two weeks after they had lost to Arizona on a Hail Mary pass.

“It was kind of like the football gods were on our side,” Goff said.

So this was the picture: His last touchdown pass, 51 yards to Trevor Davis, came with 3:18 left and put Cal up, 60-59. But a two-point conversion missed, and WSU seemed in perfect position to steal the night. Just kill the clock, run the offense and at worst, hit a game-winning field goal.

Halliday converted a short fourth-down pass to River Cracraft at the Cal 35, and soon enough, he hit Vince Mayle to the Bears’ 4-yard line as about a minute remained. WSU had one timeout left.

The Cougars ran Gerard Wicks, and he lunged the ball toward the goal line, but was stopped inside the 1. They ran him again and Cal tackle Mustafa Jalil brought him down close to the 2.

Which is where Washington State began to flinch.

With 19 seconds left, Halliday immediately launched his arms in a signal for timeout.

“That was my move,” Halliday said. “Yes, I called timeout.”

Before Halliday met media members, WSU coach Mike Leach was asked about the sequence and said initially, in response to whether he thought about taking one more shot at the end zone on third down (when the field goal was attempted), “Yeah, we probably should have done that. I thought we were gonna punch it in. We were planning to run it again. Once we called timeout, we kicked the field goal.”

Asked to clarify who called the timeout, Leach took responsibility for it, saying: “I shouldn’t have called timeout. In hindsight, I wish we’d run another play.”

They should have, and not just because hindsight tells us Quentin Breshears missed a chippie field goal. Sure, bad things can happen with one more snap to the quarterback — a fumble, a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage.

But a quarterback who threw for 734 yards was a lot more certain bet than a walk-on transfer kicker from Fresno State who struggled through fall camp, took over the job in the second game of the season only because the starter was ineffective, and had never been asked to make a pressure kick at WSU.

“I mean,” Halliday said, not especially charitably, “it’s an 18-yard field goal.”

So the Cougars are dribbling the season away. They couldn’t beat Rutgers because they weren’t aggressive enough defensively. They couldn’t beat Nevada because they didn’t run the ball when it was there. And they couldn’t beat Cal because they were helpless defensively and failed spectacularly on special teams.

Talking about their road ahead, Halliday said, “We’re really in a must-win situation going down to Stanford.”

On the heels of a mussed win against Cal.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or