Playing in a snow storm with very little sun visible in the sky, the Washington State Cougars capitalized in the mistakes of the Miami Hurricanes, and in doing so, won the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas by the score of 20-14 on Saturday, December 26, 2015. The victory was the first bowl win for the Cougars with head coach Mike Leach at the helm, and their first bowl win since 2003. In that game, the No. 15 Cougars downed No. 5 Texas by the score of 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl.
The Cougars got on the scoreboard first at the 12:41 mark in the first quarter. Quarterback Luke Falk connected with running back Jamal Morrow on a 31-yard pass for the score. Erik Powell split the uprights for the extra-point conversion to give Washington State an early 7-0 lead. The drive began on the Cougars’ 25-yard line and took 2:19 off the clock in six plays. The Hurricanes came back 6:56 later and tied the score in a four-yard pass from quarterback Brad Kaaya to running back Stacy Coley to conclude their 15-play, 69-yard drive. Michael Badgley added the kicking extra point; his 38th of the season.
Washington State regained the lead in the last half of the second quarter when Powell booted the ball through the uprights for a 30-yard field goal; his nineteenth of the season. The field goal capped a 14 play, 58-yard drive that lasted 6:13. They extended their lead to 17-7 when Falk hit wide receiver Gabe Marks with a deep pass. He covered the final 25 yards of the 71-yard drive for the score; his 24th touchdown of his career. Powell again added the extra point to compete the scoring drive.
Miami took possession of the ball with 1:10 remaining in the half, and after three plays in which they lost five yards, they punted the ball back to the Cougars. Washington State started their drive on their own 42-yard line and move sthe ball down the field, covering 34 yards in four plays. With two seconds remaining in the half, Powell connected from 25 yards out for his second field goal of the game. His field goal closed out the scoring in the first half; giving the Cougars a 20-7 lead at halftime.
After trading possessions numerous times in the third quarter, the score remained unchanged. The Hurricanes cut the Cougars lead to six when running back Mark Walton carried the ball the final five yards for the final touchdown of the game. Bagley added the extra point to close out the scoring in the game.
Washington State also took the bowl game’s individual honors. Falk received the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player Trophy. The sophomore completed 29-of-53 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. The Jimmy Rogers, Jr. Most Valuable Lineman Trophy went to tackle Hercules Mata’afa. The freshmen tallied two solo tackles, one assist, one sack for an eight-yard loss and one of his tackles for a loss. Powell received the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player Trophy for his field goals and extra points.