PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday’s fourth pass of the game went for a 90-yard touchdown, and it was off to the races for the senior on a night when he would throw for an NCAA-record 734 yards against California.
The problem was that his team lost 60-59 Saturday night when a 19-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds was wide right.
”It really doesn’t mean too much,” a disappointed Halliday said after the game. ”It’ll be fun to look back on it when I’m 30 years old.”
Coach Mike Leach said Monday that the performance, which broke the FBS record of 716 yards set by David Klingler of Houston in 1990, should put Halliday’s name in contention for the Heisman Trophy. ”He’s the best quarterback in this conference,” Leach said.
For his part, Halliday said he felt the Cougars (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) would win the offensive shootout with Cal, which featured a combined 56 points scored in the third quarter alone.
”It’s a weird feeling,” he said. ”It’s kind of, `We’re going to win this game no matter what.’ The game is on our shoulders offensively,”
But ”after every time you score you realize you’re going to need another one,” he said.
Halliday was the nation’s passing yardage leader coming into the game.
Against Cal, he completed 49 of 70 passes for six touchdowns. He was not intercepted or sacked in the game.
”Connor played well today,” receiver River Cracraft said after the game. ”Aside from the record, we lost the game.”
Halliday’s performance was only the second time in FBS history that a quarterback has topped 700 yards in a game, and only the 15th time a player has topped 600 yards. It was the fifth time Halliday has topped 500 yards in a game.
The six touchdown passes tied his own school record, shared with Jason Gesser, and gave him a national best 26 for the season.
Halliday’s 10,483 career passing yards are the second-most in Washington State history, behind Alex Brink’s 10,913 and ahead of the likes of Mark Rypien, Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf.
Of course, ridiculous passing numbers are the norm in Leach’s ”Air Raid” offense.
Halliday already set a record last season with 89 pass attempts against Oregon, and he’s within striking distance of the Division I records for passing attempts, completions and yards in a season.
The owners of those records are B.J. Symons (attempts and yardage) and Graham Harrell (completions) – both coached by Leach at Texas Tech.
Leach said Halliday has improved steadily in his years at Washington State.
”I think he’s more polished,” Leach said. ”He has steadily worked hard.”