Cougars lose QB to internal injury
WSU coach Paul Wulff announced Sunday night that quarterback Connor Halliday would miss the Apple Cup with a lacerated liver.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Apple Cup week finally arrived Sunday.
And it opened with more bad news for the Washington State Cougars, capping a weekend that only further dampened the excitement of a game that at times this season harbored so much promise.
WSU coach Paul Wulff announced Sunday night that quarterback Connor Halliday would miss the game with a lacerated liver suffered on a hit in the second quarter of Saturday's 30-27 overtime loss to Utah. Wulff said Halliday was still in the intensive care unit at Pullman Regional Hospital and would likely remain there for another day or so.
"He had an unbelievably courageous outing when it looked like the initial injury happened in the second quarter," Wulff said. "He hung in there and took hits and threw the ball under duress and pain. I'm very proud of his toughness and grit."
The injury wasn't fully diagnosed until a few hours after the game.
"Like the internist said, it was just a perfect hit," he said. "A very rare hit (like they see) in car accidents and those types of things. It's very uncommon for a football injury."
Without Halliday, the Cougars will return to fifth-year senior Marshall Lobbestael to start Saturday's game, which will kick off at 4:30 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.
Wulff reiterated that Jeff Tuel, projected to be WSU's starting quarterback this year before suffering a clavicle injury in the opener, would not be available, leaving the job to Lobbestael. The Oak Harbor graduate started eight games in place of Tuel before giving way to Halliday. Lobbestael's backup will be sophomore David Gilbertson, a walk-on who is the son of former UW coach Keith Gilbertson.
Lobbestael will be without one of his main targets, however, as Wulff also announced that senior receiver Isiah Barton suffered an ACL injury against Utah. Barton had 49 catches for 638 yards and five touchdowns this season.
The losses of Halliday and Barton came on the heels of a hugely disappointing defeat to Utah that ended WSU's hopes of getting bowl eligible. The defeat was WSU's sixth in seven games and dropped the Cougars to 4-7 with one game remaining.
WSU tied the score at 27 on a 17-yard field goal as time ran out, then saw Utah win it in overtime.
Wulff said Sunday he thought the Cougars might have won it on a pass just before the field goal. Halliday's pass to Marquess Wilson was officially spotted at the 1.
Wulff said he has reviewed pictures and video and that "in trying to be unbiased, I do think he was across the line."
The play was not reviewed since the clock was running and the Cougars had no time outs and hurried to snap the ball to stop the clock — once another play was run the play could not be reviewed.
"I wish they would have reviewed it." Wulff said. "I don't know if a TV review would have changed the call."
Wulff said he thought it best to kick the field goal and send the game into overtime. However, Halliday threw his fourth interception on WSU's first possession and Utah then won it with a field goal.
The Huskies, meanwhile, were singing a somewhat similar tune after their 38-21 loss Saturday at Oregon State, UW's third in a row and fourth in five games after a 5-1 start.
"I don't think anything has gone wrong," tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. "We are just playing against really good competition. ... No one said we were going to be perfect. There are ups and downs and the season is a roller coaster and you are not going to win every game and it's how you respond."
Washington had its own quarterback issues as redshirt freshman Nick Montana got his first career start in place of Keith Price, who had a sprained left knee. Price is likely to return this week and that may settle down an offense that moved the ball at times against the Beavers but committed too many mistakes at critical times.
Of larger concern is a defense that allowed an Oregon State team that hadn't gained more than 285 yards in its previous three games to get 484 yards, 339 through the air.
"They tried really hard and maybe in some aspects they tried too hard," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I know there is a great deal of disappointment, but the reality is that we have to figure it out. We have to figure it out fast, and we have to get ready for the Apple Cup."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.