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Ward leads Washington State to 56-14 romp over Colorado; Sanders exits with injury

By The Associated Press
Posted 2:39AM on Saturday 18th November 2023 ( 3 months ago )

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Cameron Ward threw for 288 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, Brennan Jackson had two scoop-and-score touchdowns and Washington State beat Colorado 56-14 on Friday night to snap a six-game losing streak and end the Buffaloes’ hopes of a bowl game in the first year under Deion Sanders.

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders left the game in the second quarter after taking a big hit on a botched snap. Sanders was slow to get up but walked off the field on his own before being taken to the locker room. The junior was 6 of 10 for 86 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown strike to Travis Hunter. Sanders, the coach’s son, was sacked four times before leaving the game.

“He had some numbness in his hand and couldn’t really grip the ball,” Sanders said. “But then that second hit he just got rolled up on, we decided not to send him back out.”

Colorado (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12 Conference) and “Coach Prime” were the darlings of college football after a 3-0 start, but the team has lost seven of eight since.

Despite a massive improvement upon last year’s win total, Sanders said the program measures itself against its own expectations.

“We’re falling short of what we’re capable of, that’s the part of this that’s tough to digest. We’ve got high expectations here, so this is tremendously disappointing,” said Sanders.

Washington State (5-6, 2-6) kept its hopes for a bowl game alive with the victory, but the Cougars will need to find a way to topple rival Washington next week in the Apple Cup to finish the job.

Jackson returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns covering 48 and 78 yards, respectively, helping the Cougars to their largest Pac-12 victory since 2016. The Cougar defense forced three turnovers on a Colorado offense that had only committed seven all season.

On the Buffs' second possession, Ron Stone Jr’s. strip-sack of Sanders was picked up by Jackson who returned it for his first score of the night to put the Cougars up 14-0. The hit sidelined Sanders for a series before the big hit in the second quarter took him out for the night.

Hunter’s 45-yard touchdown brought the Buffs within a score for one play before Leighton Smithson stifled any Colorado momentum with a 98-yard kickoff return, the first for Washington State since 2018.

Ward piled it on from there, finding Nakia Watson for a 23-yard touchdown before calling his own number on touchdowns of 1 and 2 yards on consecutive possessions to give the Cougars a 42-7 lead at the half.

Ward dropped in a 34-yard touchdown throw to Kyle Williams before Jackson picked up his second fumble and returned it for a touchdown and a 56-7 lead.

“They came to play from start to finish. They executed early, they executed often, they came to play,” Sanders said. “And with Shedeur out on top of that, it was tough.”

Ryan Staub and Gavin Kuld rotated possessions in relief of Sanders but combined for just 79 passing yards and two turnovers. Hunter led the team with 82 receiving yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Washington State: The Cougars snapped their longest losing streak since 2013 with a 42-point barrage in the first half after averaging just 20 points per game through the last six weeks. Their defensive line was disruptive from the start, knocking out Sanders with four sacks in the first quarter alone.

Colorado: The Buffaloes' postseason hopes were dashed in their largest loss of the “Coach Prime” era. The Buffs have allowed an FBS-worst 54 sacks this season, and the Cougars’ pass rush proved too much to handle.

UP NEXT

Colorado: The Buffaloes hit the road against No. 22 Utah on Nov. 25 before both teams join the Big 12 Conference next season.

Washington State: The Cougars end the regular season at No. 5 Washington in what may be the final Apple Cup. The Huskies are off to the Big Ten Conference next season.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) walks toward the locker room during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State running back Nakia Watson (25) runs for a touchdown between Colorado safety Shilo Sanders (21) and linebacker LaVonta Bentley (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Colorado, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado quarterback Ryan Staub (16) throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State wide receiver Josh Kelly (3) carries the ball while pressured by Colorado safety Jaden Milliner-Jones (31) and cornerback Cormani McClain (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State wide receiver Lincoln Victor (5) celebrates his touchdown against Colorado with offensive lineman Christian Hilborn (61) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State defensive end Ron Stone Jr. (10) sacks Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado coach Deion Sanders, center, runs out with the team before an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado head coach Deion Sanders watches the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.(AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado running back Sy'veon Wilkerson (36) tries to get past Washington State defensive end Quinn Roff (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
A Washington State fan holds a sign critical of college football before an NCAA college football game between Washington State and Colorado, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State wide receiver Lincoln Victor runs for a touchdown against Colorado during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado quarterback Gavin Kuld throws a shovel pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Colorado running back Sy'veon Wilkerson (36) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.(AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State head coach Jake Dickert, left, and Colorado head coach Deion Sanders greet each other after an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won 56-14. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State fans celebrate the team's 56-14 win against Colorado on the field after an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Washington State coach Jake Dickert, left, speaks with wide receiver Carlos Hernandez (8) during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Colorado, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

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