Halliday leads WSU past ASU in QB debut

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PULLMAN — Washington State’s quarterback of the future may have bolstered Paul Wulff’s chances of being Washington State’s coach of the future.

Redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, taking over for senior starter Marshall Lobbestael in the first quarter, passed for 494 yards and four touchdowns to lead Washington State to a 37-27 victory over Arizona State on a snowy Saturday night at Martin Stadium.

The victory snapped Washington State’s five-game losing streak and kept the Cougars’ bowl dreams alive with two games left in the regular season. WSU (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) plays Utah (6-4, 3-4) next Saturday in Pullman, then faces Washington (6-4, 4-3) on Nov. 26 in Seattle.

Wulff, 9-38 in four years at WSU, has not been told if he will be retained next season. He helped his job prospects immensely by giving Halliday his first playing time since the second game of the season Sept. 10.

The Cougars gave up a 95-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff. However, Halliday entered the game with 6 1-2 minutes left in the first quarter, took his first snap in a game in nine weeks and immediately threw a gorgeous 85-yard TD pass to Marquess Wilson.

The Cougars came from behind to take the lead three times. Halliday, who starred at Ferris High School in Spokane, completed 27 of 36 passes and did not throw an interception.

Halliday’s 494 passing yards ranks second in WSU history to the 531 Alex Brink recorded in a 1995 loss at Oregon State.

Wilson made outstanding catches all night. He finished with eight receptions for 223 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

Wilson, a sophomore, joined Jason Hill (2004-05) as the only Cougars with a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Wilson also broke Brandon Gibson’s single-season school record of 1,180 receiving yards in 2007. Wilson now has 1,197 yards.

Snowplows cleared a light layer of snow from the field prior to the game. Snow fell from the middle of the second quarter to the end of the game. The new snow did not stick, but temperatures hovered around the freezing mark, and winds were icy.

The Cougars topped ASU 590-411 in total yards. Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler competed 28 of 44 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown. Gerell Robinson caught eight passes for 158 yards and a TD.

Safety Deone Bucannon led an aggressive WSU defense with a game-high 13 tackles — all solo.