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Musings after a day in Pullman

PULLMAN -- A potpourri after Washington State rallied from a 24-7 deficit Saturday to knock off Southern Methodist 30-27 in overtime at Martin Stadium for the Cougars' first victory of 2009:

* Despite giving up 504 total yards of offense, the Cougars -- believe it or not -- won this game with defense. Namely, two interception returns for touchdowns.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis returned one 52 yards for a score, and 5:09 later Myron Beck grabbed one and ran it back 67 yards for a TD.

It was the first pick ever for Hoffman-Ellis. Ever.

And both of the players' reactions were interesting after they caught the ball.

"Run. Run like hell," said Hoffman-Ellis.

"Don't get caught and just run," said Beck. "I got caught from behind last year against Oregon."

Hoffman-Ellis would have liked to have kept the ball, "but I heard there were some pictures of it. So I'll get those."

* WSU quarterback Marshall Lobbestael engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the final minutes of regulation, tying the game when he hit Jared Karstetter with a 7-yard scoring strike with 28 seconds left.

What did WSU coach Paul Wulff say to his offense before that last drive?

"We've got three timeouts, there's plenty of time to go 80 yards," Wulff said. "When the defense was out there, I told the offense 'You've got one more drive. You need to make some plays.' "

* Moses Lake's B.J. Guerra, who started at guard, was gone after three plays when he sprained his right MCL.

"We were stymied a bit when B.J. went down," said Wulff. "B.J. is definitely going to be out a few weeks."

* The last two WSU victories have been overtime wins: this one and the Apple Cup win over Washington last November. As with last year, WSU fans rushed the field after Cougars kicker Nico Grasu's winning 39-yard field goal.

What was interesting was before the kick, watching the WSU student body shift one section over toward the east end of the field, en masse, to prepare for running onto the field.

* Big numbers from some SMU players: quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell (40-for-57 for 424 yards, but four interceptions); receiver Emmanuel Sanders (a school-record 18 catches for 178 yards).

* Disclaimer: I am neither a WSU nor Washington fan. I am an EWU graduate. That being said, it was interesting to see the reaction in the press box at halftime when Washington defeated USC 16-13.

You could hear the groans and murmurs from Cougars fans watching the game on the televisions in the press box. You could also almost smell their fear, that they knew the Huskies are back after an 0-12 season in 2008. The Trojans also happen to play host to WSU next Saturday in Los Angeles, and they will be mad.

* Pasco High graduate Duke Washington received a warm ovation from WSU fans at halftime after being introduced to the crowd as one of this year's inductees into the WSU Sports Hall of Fame.

Washington, who is African-American, played for the Cougars from 1952-54 and was in Texas playing against the Longhorns when they had asked WSU not to bring him with the team. The Cougars said no Washington, no game, and the running back dominated the Longhorns.

Washington, who also brought the game ball out to midfield before kickoff, is a member of the Central Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

Among the others inducted this weekend into WSU's hall were former Cougars football coach Jim Walden, and ex-basketball star Craig Ehlo.

* By the way, WSU's band plays Black Sabbath's Iron Man way too much.

* It's hard to remember that while WSU has struggled over the last few years, the team is still very young.

"We had nine first-year or second-year players out there today," Wulff said.