Houston falls short against Washington State, lose 31-24
Houston lost to No. 20 Washington State 31-24 Friday night in a game that saw UH head coach Dana Holgorsen go toe-to-toe with his old boss, WSU head coach Mike Leach.
Holgorsen, whose team dropped to 1-2 after the loss, said the Cougars have made progress in the three weeks since the start of the season.
“We gave ourselves a chance and just came up a little bit short,” Holgorsen said. “I thought we got better. We got to get back to work tomorrow and keep trying to improve.”
Although the Cougars ended the night with a loss, Houston saw its quarterback finally settle back into the role he played with UH in 2018 before a late-season injury benched him for the last two games of last season.
King looked better, but still struggled
Despite the final results of the game, senior quarterback D’Eriq King showed flashes of his old self in the loss.
King, who passed for 128 yards and rushed for 94 more, led the Cougars in scoring with one touchdown on the ground and two more in the air.
Although King played well, Holgorsen said the Cougars’ passing could have been better.
“We didn’t execute the passing game very well,” Holgorsen said. “It seemed like every time we got something going there was a penalty flying.”
After the loss, Holgorsen said that the team was not settling for any “moral victories” and King feels the same.
“There is no such thing as a moral victory,” King said. “We expect to win every game, and we have to go out there and play like it.”
It quickly became apparent that penalties would be a problem for both teams early in the game, especially for Houston.
The first half alone saw UH accrue 40 yards of penalty yardage after three holding calls, two of which committed by junior starting left guard Gio Pancotti, and two false starts.
Two of those penalties, one of Pancotti’s holds and another by sophomore wide receiver Bryson Smith, held Houston to a field goal attempt missed by junior kicker Dalton Witherspoon late in the first quarter.
UH’s foul trouble continued well into the second half.
In the third quarter, King found the end zone on a 72-yard rush, but a holding penalty by sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Singleton took the points off the board for Houston.
While he felt demoralized after the penalty took away the touchdown, King said the team has to keep on playing.
“It’s pretty bad,” King said. “Penalties are going to happen. You just have to stay in it and play the next play.”
Washington State did not fare too well with penalties, either.
Similar to King’s wiped out touchdown, WSU senior quarterback Anthony Gordon saw his 76-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Max Borghi negated by an offensive pass interference on the other side of the field, taking away a two-touchdown lead from Washington State.
The two teams’ 19 combined penalties totaled more than 200 yards.
The loss came before competition in the American Athletic Conference begins for UH, which is where things really matter for Holgorsen.
On to Tulane
Although Houston lost, Holgorsen already has his mind set to the Tulane game, the first in its conference schedule.
“We’ll look at it tomorrow, and we’ll coach our guys up,” Holgorsen said. “We’ll practice Sunday night, and we’ll go to New Orleans on Thursday and try to win a conference game.”