Gabe Marks and River Cracraft have combined for 56 career touchdowns and are No. 1 and 2, respectively on WSU's career receptions list and are only pair of Pac-12 teammates to ever hit the 200-reception mark together
PULLMAN – Regardless of how the rest of the season unfolds, Gabe Marks and River Cracraft will go down in the record books as the best receiving tandem to ever suit up for Washington State.
The Cougars’ star senior receivers have now combined for 56 career touchdowns, 513 receptions and a staggering 5,906 receiving yards and are the first pair of teammates in Pac-12 history to each hit the 200-reception mark.
Marks, who began the season as the owner of WSU’s career receiving touchdowns record, also now has a couple more records to add to his name.
In the 23rd-ranked Cougars’ 56-21 win over Cal on Saturday night, Marks broke Marquess Wilson’s school record for career receiving yards, then laid claim to the holy grail – the Pac-12 all-time career receptions record formerly held by Colorado’s Nelson Spruce.
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“I knew it was gonna happen at some point,” Marks said. “It’s kinda impossible to not catch seven passes over four games, so I’ve been thinking about it and stuff. I just kinda wanted to do it here because we’re at home.”
Characteristically, Marks broke the record in dramatic fashion, catching an end zone fade from Luke Falk in the right corner of the end zone to make career reception No. 295 double as career receiving touchdown No. 36.
“Going on the field, we knew he needed one more,” Falk said. “I didn’t want to throw a screen or something small to him. And it ended up working out perfectly. He’s a tremendous player, congrats to him.”
After Marks scored, the jumbotron at Martin Stadium showed the receiver on the sideline, and the 30,135 fans gave congratulated him with an appreciative cheer and a rousing round of applause.
How did it feel?
“I wasn’t feeling all blushy and stuff, like all romatic or anything,” Marks said. “It was cool. I appreciated the cheers from the fans and everything.”
Marks said he had to fight the refs to get to keep the ball that constituted career reception No. 295.
“I was running off with the ball, and I looked at one ref and was like, ‘No!’ Then I looked at another ref and he was like, ‘Ball! Ball’ and I was like, ‘No, it’s my ball,’” Marks said. “I just took it off the field. They don’t know. They’ve got a bunch of stuff going on.”
Marks now owns he WSU career records for receptions (295), receiving yards (3,268) and receiving touchdowns (36). He finished with seven receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns against Cal.
What’s there left for him to do? Not much in terms of statistics, but plenty in terms of the big picture, Marks said.
“I’ve kinda done everything I can do within my reach,” Marks said. “It’s (now) just about winning big games, you know?”
The Cougars might have to do that without Cracraft, however.
Cracraft had a huge first half against the Golden Bears and was leading the Cougars with nine receptions for 87 yards and three touchdowns when he went down with what appeared to be a left leg injury, could not put weight on his left leg and did not return. His availability for the rest of the season is unknown.
WSU does not talk about injuries, and all Marks would say when asked about Cracraft was “he’s great.” But if Cracraft is unable to play another game this season, the senior slot receiver will finish his career as the second-most prolific receiver in WSU history.
Cracraft sits behind only Marks at No. 2 on WSU’s career receptions list, with 218. That’s also good for 18th place in Pac-12 history. In addition, he has 20 career touchdown passes, sixth-most in WSU history.
All those numbers come in spite of the fact that Cracraft has not played a complete season since his freshman year in 2013. He missed two games his sophomore year and three games last season with stress fractures, but was on pace to put up career-best numbers this season before he was injured against Cal.
“He’s got his own situation going on with all the passes he’s caught, he ‘s got his own respect due,” said Marks, who spent part of the Arizona game embroiled in a debate with WSU coach Mike Leach over whether Cracraft was the best slot receiver Leach had ever coached. “He is someone that has to be recognized on the field, and he makes an offense work better because he occupies the middle of the field, and if they’re going to try to cover the outsides then, you know, he dominates.
“And then, vice versa, when they try to start covering him up, I’m able to do my job easier too. It’s kinda like, we’ve got a marriage.”