PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Transfer quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday as Washington State beat rowdy Idaho 24-17 in a season opener and won its 10th straight game in a long-running two-school streak , whose campuses are only eight miles apart.
Ward completed 25 of 40 passes for Washington State, a Pac-12 team that leads the Battle of the Palouse series 72-17-3. But the Cougars had trouble knocking out Idaho, an FCS team from the Big Sky Conference.
It wasn’t until Ward threw a touchdown pass to Jaylen Jenkins at 10:33 in the fourth quarter and gave Washington State a 24-10 lead that the Cougars seemed to take control.
But Idaho freshman quarterback Gevani McCoy responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Dwyer with 6:05 in the game, cutting WSU’s lead to 24-17.
Washington State’s subsequent drive gobbled up the clock, but Dean Janikowski missed a 23-yard field goal attempt wide left with 53 seconds remaining.
McCoy led Idaho down the field but was intercepted at the goal line by Daiyan Henley to end the threat.
McCoy completed 21 of 32 passes for 212 yards and was intercepted twice for Idaho, who was passed 358 yards for 269 yards in the game.
Idaho last defeated the Cougars in 2000.
Ward, who joined from FCS Incarnate Word, led FCS in touchdown passes (47) and third in passing yards (4,648) last year. His arrival prompted former starter Jayden de Laura to transfer to Arizona.
Washington State fumbled the ball away on his first possession and receiver Donovan Ollie fumbled after catching a pass on the Cougars’ second possession. Marcus Harris grabbed the ball and rushed for 45 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for Idaho.
Ricardo Chavez kicked off a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter to give Idaho a 10-0 lead.
Janikowski missed a 51-yard field goal for Washington State early in the second quarter.
Ward marched 80 yards in nine games against the Cougars late in the second quarter, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Renard Bell to reduce Idaho’s lead to 10-7. Bell missed all of last season due to injury.
McCoy was intercepted in midfield by defender Chau Smith-Wade in the next series. But the Cougars faltered and had to settle for Janikowski’s 34-yard field goal, which equaled 10-10 at halftime.
Idaho took the first drive of the second half but turned the ball around on downs. Ward marched down the field in Washington State and hit De’Zhaun Stribling with a 13-yard touchdown pass for the Cougars’ first 17-10 lead.
Washington State: Jake Dickert picked up a tough win as he began his first full season as coach of the Cougars. He went 3-3 with a berth at the Sun Bowl last season as interim coach after Nick Rolovich was fired for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Idaho: Jason Eck coached his first game in Idaho, replacing the fired Paul Petrino and presenting Washington State with a tougher challenge than expected. Washington State paid a $575,000 guarantee to Idaho, a former FBS program that fell to FCS five years ago.
Washington State: The Cougars play in Wisconsin on Saturday.
Idaho: The Vandals play in Indiana on Saturday.
https://www.king5.com/article/sports/ward-throws-3-td-passes-washington-state-tops-idaho-24-17/281-603d65c8-8e79-4991-bbd1-45ed0c0f4c44 Ward throws 3 TD passes, Washington State tops Idaho 24-17