STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Cameron Ward threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third, Nakia Watson rushed for 166 yards and a score and Washington State snapped a three-game losing streak with a 52-14 victory against Stanford on Saturday.
“We needed a win like this,” Ward said. “We needed this win to get going and get back.”
The Cougars (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and then put the game away with two more TDs in the final 2:09 of the first half.
Jaden Hicks also returned a fumble 17 yards for a score in the second quarter as Washington State used four takeaways and 306 yards rushing to get over the frustration of the losing streak.
“Winning is a magic elixir,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said. “It has grown so much confidence and belief.”
Ward threw for 176 yards with a 7-yard TD pass to Anderson Grover and a 9-yarder to Donovan Ollie on fourth-and-3. Ward also had a 15-yard TD run.
Tanner McKee threw for 236 yards and backup QB Ashton Daniels ran for two scores but Stanford (3-6, 1-6) kept giving the ball away and lost for the sixth straight time to the Cougars.
“We had our opportunities, especially on the offensive side,” coach David Shaw said. “You can't turn the ball over twice and expect to beat a team that you're comparable to. We turned it over four times.”
Watson set the tone for Washington State in his return from an injury, rushing for 65 yards on the second play from scrimmage to set up Leyton Smithson's 3-yard TD run and then scoring on a 41-yard run on the Cougars final play of the half following a fumble by Benjamin Yurosek that made it 42-7.
“He was himself today,” Dickert said. “He he gave us a jumpstart and credit to our offensive line. He hit a big hole and he made some people miss. It just set the tone for what we could do.”
The Cardinal lost six of their first seven conference games for the first time since 2006 — the year before Jim Harbaugh arrived on The Farm to turn Stanford into a contender. But after a long run of success under Harbaugh and Shaw, things have turned in recent years and Stanford hasn't won more than four games in a season since going 9-4 in 2018.
“As much as positivity can sometimes be contagious, negativity can be contagious,” Shaw said.
Washington State: After being held to 41 points during a three-game skid, the Cougars exceeded that total in the first half against the Cardinal. Now all they need is one win against Arizona State, Arizona or Washington to become bowl eligible for the seventh straight non-pandemic season.
Stanford: The Cardinal were completely overmatched in this game. They trailed 21-0 before generating a first down, lost four fumbles in the first half and looked disorganized. Stanford was down its top three running backs for the game. The Cardinal had to rely on converted safety Mitch Leigber at times, as well as using Daniels as a running option.
Washington State: Host Arizona State on Saturday.
Stanford: Visit Utah on Saturday.
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