PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon threw for 520 yards and five touchdowns in a victory over Stanford, and coach Mike Leach was full of praise for the senior on Saturday.
“Right now he is probably playing quarterback better than anyone in the country,” said Leach, who has coached many top quarterbacks. “He made play after play in that game that other quarterbacks can’t do.”
Washington State scored the final 24 points of the game in beating Stanford 49-22, to move within one win of becoming bowl eligible. It was their first victory in almost a month.
“It was our most complete game of the season,” Leach said.
Gordon completed 44 of 60 passes and was intercepted once. He now has 39 touchdown passes on the season, which leads the nation and is a team record.
“He’s real accurate,” Leach said of Gordon. “He throws for a great deal of yards. When pressured he can do something with the ball. He typically doesn’t take many sacks.”
“That’s quite the compliment coming from coach Leach,” Gordon said.
“But I haven’t reached my ceiling yet,” he said. “I can improve.”
Easop Winston Jr. caught 11 passes for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Washington State (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12), which has a four-game winning streak against the Cardinal. Max Borghi rushed for 111 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Brandon Arconado caught nine passes for 148 yards for the Cougars.
“He’s gotten better and better,” Leach said.
Davis Mills, starting in place of injured K.J. Costello, threw for a team record 494 yards for Stanford (4-6, 3-5). Mills completed 32 of 49 passes for three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Connor Weddington caught seven passes for 109 yards and Michael Wilson had five catches for 114 yards.
Stanford played without Costello and All-Pac-12 defensive back Paulson Adebo, who were out with injuries.
“I think the big thing for us obviously we are short-handed and we became more short-handed during the course of the game,” Stanford coach David Shaw said.
“That being said, we fought back to make it a game. Down 10 points with the guys that we had going against one of the best passing offenses in all of college football,” Shaw said. “We were good enough to hold them and make the game close.”
In the opening series, Winston caught a short pass from Gordon, the nation’s leading passer, and turned it into a 29-yard touchdown reception. The kick by Blake Mazza was blocked for a 6-0 lead. Mazza had made all 41 of his previous conversion attempts this season.
After a Stanford punt, Washington State drove 96 yards, with Gordon hitting Tay Martin for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 13-0 lead.
After a Stanford punt, Washington State drove 97 yards for its third touchdown. Gordon fired a 15-yard scoring pass to Winston, who split three defenders in the end zone and made a diving catch. Mazza’s kick failed and the Cougars led 19-0.
Stanford replied with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Simi Fehoko.
Gordon was intercepted at the Stanford goal line on the next series by Jonathan McGill. Davis drove the Cardinal 99 yards, culminating in a 23-yard touchdown pass to Michael Wilson that cut WSU’s lead to 19-14.
Mazza kicked a 35-yard field goal to give WSU a 22-14 lead at halftime.
Mazza’s 38-yard field goal late in the third gave WSU a 25-14 lead.
Stanford replied with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Fehoko, and Cameron Scarlett ran over the 2-point conversion to bring the Cardinal within 25-22.
But the Cougars blew the game open, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal in the final 18 minutes.
Travell Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to the Stanford 10, and Gordon threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Arconado.
“Travell Harris gave our team a spark,” Leach said.
Mazza added a 35-yard field goal on the next possession for a 35-22 lead.
WSU’s Skyler Thomas intercepted Mills at midfield, and Borghi caught a short touchdown pass from Gordon for a 42-22 lead midway through the fourth. Borghi added a late running touchdown.
“Once those guys get rolling it is hard to stop them,” Shaw said.
Washington State did not punt in the game.
Stanford: The Cardinal need to beat California and Notre Dame at home to qualify for an 11th consecutive bowl game, extending the longest streak in school history. “We have a two-game season,” Shaw said.
Washington State: The Cougars need to beat Oregon State next weekend or win at archrival Washington the following weekend to qualify for a fifth consecutive bowl game.
Stanford hosts California next Saturday.
© 2020 Associated Press