The Cougs used a combined 651 yards on offense including a WSU record 280 yards on the ground to blow away the Ducks in Pullman 51-33.
Two teams who came into Saturday’s game at 1-2 and 2-2 respectively after pre-season expectations of competing for the conference title, were looking to avoid their 3rd loss in this early season. Two high flying offenses squared off and WAZZU was looking to get back on track after the bye week, but they would have to try to solve Oregon’s running game, and their future number one draft pick Royce Freeman.
The Cougs had yet to score on an opening drive this season which is what they excelled in a year ago. For the 1st time this season, the Cougs kicked the ball off to start the game, and the defense was called on to make an early stop. With a sold out crowd of 32,952 on hand, the defense answered the call forcing the Ducks to punt.
The Cougs used their first drive and went 65 yards in 6 plays ending with a Luke Falk to Gabe Marks touchdown over the middle from 7 yards out to give the Cougs an early 7-0 lead. The Ducks answered right back driving 42 yards with Freeman running it in from 11 yards out to tie it at 7. The Cougs and ducks traded scores again in the 2nd quarter and it remained tied until 6 minutes left in the half, when Jamal Morrow found the endzone from 10 yards away to put the Cougs up 7, 21-14. On the following Ducks possession, the WAZZU defense put the clamps down. Robert Barber sacked Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop for an 8 yard loss and the Ducks were forced to punt again. Falk then led a methodical 10 play 55 yard touchdown drive ending in a Gerard Wicks 2 yard run that at up nearly 5 minutes on the clock leaving only 37 seconds left in the half to put the Cougs up 28-14.
To start the 3rd, the Cougs had two straight turnover on downs inside the 5 yard line, and Royce Freeman broke a 75 yard touchdown run to close the Cougar lead. But the Cougar run game started to wear down the mediocre Duck defense, and freshman running back James Williams put a cap on it with a 38 yard touchdown run that ended it a Cougar dog pile in the end zone similar to the Phillip Bobo play in the 1992 Apple Cup.
“I felt like we had really good energy the whole time. I felt the whole game we were highly motivated,” Mike Leach said after the game. The Cougs exploited the man to man defense that the Ducks were playing by using a lot of motion. “We haven’t played a team that runs as much man as they do,” said Leach.
Quarterback Luke Falk was 36-48 with 371 and a touchdown. The Cougar defense held the Ducks in check and were able to control the game offensively and score at will. Following the game, Falk said, “I felt really good out there.” Royce Freeman finished with 138 yards on the ground, which included the one carry of 75 yards.
The Ducks fall to 2-3 on this early season, and are a far cry from the team that played in the National Championship just two years ago. The Cougs started the season 0-2 after high expectations, and have seemed to find their stride as they have looked impressive in their last 2 games. They face the 15th ranked Stanford Cardinal on The Farm in Palo Alto next week at 7:30. Stanford had a disappointing loss Friday night against the Huskies and have 4 injured corner backs that should play into the Cougars Favor.