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Gardner Minshew leads WSU Cougars over San Jose State 31-0

Gardner Minshew led the WSU Cougars to a win in his first career start in Pullman. (AP)

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Associated Press

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) – Washington State beat San Jose State 31-0 on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean Cougars’ coach Mike Leach was happy with his team.

WSU honors deceased QB Hilinski before game | Photo gallery | Stats

“I was not impressed with our second half,” Leach said, after the Cougars managed just one touchdown after halftime.

“We were too soft,” Leach said, especially at running back. “We could get a fast seventh grader and hit the hole as hard as we did.”

“We need a complete game,” Leach said.

Leach did acknowledge that the shutout was “a fantastic effort” by the defense.

Actually, the Cougars looked pretty good in piling up 544 yards while holding the Spartans to 109. San Jose State punted 11 times.

Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score during an emotional night that began with a brief tribute to deceased WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski.

Tay Martin caught a pair of touchdown passes for Washington State (2-0), a five-touchdown favorite in the game. Minshew completed 34 of 51 passes for 414 yards.

Quarterback Montel Aaron led a Spartan offense that sputtered much of the game. San Jose State (0-2) was coming off a loss to a Football Championship Series team at home last week.

San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said his team needs to improve.

“To win the turnover battle 3-1 and to get beat like that just tells you we have got a lot of work to do,” Brennan said. “Obviously they built quite a program here and I give them lots of credit.”

Martin caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to cap Washington State’s first possession.

On fourth and 10, Minshew fired a 36-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Martin down the left sideline for a 14-0 lead.

“They hit a couple deep balls, we were in a couple situations where we were trying to bring some pressure, trying to get the quarterback off his spot,” Brennan said.

Blake Mazza kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 17-0 WSU lead.

Minshew rushed over from the 1 as time expired in the first half, giving Washington State a 24-0 lead.

San Jose State was held to 23 yards and two first downs in the first half, while Washington State piled up 316 yards.

James Williams caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Minshew late in the fourth.

This was the first WSU home game since Hilinski took his own life last January. The program is remembering Hilinski, who was the presumptive starter for this season, by wearing decals with his No. 3 on their helmets, and maintaining his locker. Hilinski’s parents and two brothers raised the Cougar flag prior to the game.

A suicide prevention video played on the scoreboard prior to the game.

GOOD HANDS

Four WSU receivers – Travell Harris, Tay Martin, Dezmon Patmon and Kyle Sweet – had at least 70 yards in the game.

TO THE MAX

Freshman running back Max Borghi of Washington State rushed 10 times for 48 yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

San Jose State: The Spartans are 45-153 all-time against Pac-12 opponents. They lost at home last week to UC-Davis of the FCS.

Washington State: Another solid defensive performance for Washington State. Graduate transfer quarterback Minshew continues to impress.

UP NEXT

San Jose State plays at No. 23 Oregon next Saturday.

Washington State hosts Eastern Washington of the FCS next Saturday afternoon. Eastern Washington upset them at home in 2016.