PULLMAN, Wash. — Gardner Minshew completed 45 of 57 pass attempts for 470 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Washington State to a convincing 59-24 win over Eastern Washington Saturday.
The Cougars had a chip on their shoulders since the last time they faced EWU inside Martin Stadium. In the 2016 season opener, WSU's defense suffered against EWU wide receiver Cooper Kupp and quarterback Gage Gubrud, that resulted in a 45-42 loss.
On Saturday, the Eagles, now without Kupp, were back in Pullman with senior Gubrud hoping for another upset over their only Football Bowl Subdivision opponent of the 2018 season.
The Cougars took control quickly Saturday night with a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter to jump out to a 14-0 lead. They extended their lead by as much as 25 points in the first half before the Eagles woke up.
EWU found their stride in the final minute of the half when Gubrud found Andrew Boston for a 26-yard touchdown pass, cutting WSU's lead to 28-10.
After the half, EWU chipped away and closed the gap to 28-17 with a score in the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Eagles pushed for eight plays on the drive, six on the ground and two pass completions to Jayson Williams for a combined 16 yards. Gubrud finished the drive with a pass to wide receiver Zach Eagle for a 34-yard touchdown.
Minshew responded on the following drive with seven pass completions for a combined 91 yards. He finished with a flip to running back James Williams for an eight-yard run into the end zone, improving WSU's lead to 35-17.
The Eagles stayed close behind and pulled within 11 points again after a 44-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Merritt with four minutes left in the third, but that momentum wouldn't carry through to the fourth.
The Cougars held EWU scoreless in the final quarter and answered with three touchdowns and a field goal to more than double the Eagles' score.
WSU's Davontavean Martin connected with Minshew on 13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Williams led the offense on the ground with six carries for 19 yards and three touchdowns.
Gubrud finished the night with 14-of-36 pass completions for 231 yards and three touchdowns. McPherson led EWU's running game with 16 carries and 67 yards.