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Cougs Get a Win in Utah

The Cougs needed their 2nd road victory of the year to keep their Pac-12 Conference Championship hopes alive.  They traveled to Rice Eccles Stadium on Saturday to face the 5-4 Utah Utes in Salt Lake City.

The Coug defense didn’t disappoint, pressuring Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley all day forcing 7 sacks and 7 turnovers on the way to a 33-25 win.  The Cougs intercepted Huntley’s  Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game to get the win.

The defense got started early and often.  Early in the first Huntley connected with receiver Demari Simpkins for a 17 yard gain, but Robert Taylor knocked the ball loose, and the Cougs were in business at the Utah 46 yard line.  A few plays later, Falk found Tavares Martin Junior for an 11 yard touchdown completion and an early 7-0 lead.

A theme for the Cougar offense this season has been inconsistency.  The Cougs the past couple years had huge successes in the red zone, but this year has been a different story.  The Cougs stalled inside the 30 yard line three times in the first half alone, and got great field position for much of the first half thanks to three turnovers forced by the defense.

The Cougar offense was held to just 338 yards of total offense coming from 311 yards through the air, and only 27 yards on the ground.   Utah is known for their defense and held the Cougs to 10 of 21 on third down conversions.  Wazzu had opportunities and were moving the ball, just couldn’t convert on 3rd and short numerous times. 

Early in the 4th,  after a Utah fumble on their own 14 yard line, Falk connected with Isiah Johnson-Mack in the end zone to give the Cougs  a 33-18 lead.  That touchdown pass game Falk the Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes surpassing USC’s Matt Barkley. 

Utah was able to strike back and had a chance to tie the game with a hail mary as time expired, but Jalen Thompson intercepted it and secured the victory for the Cougars.

The Cougs are 9-2 and will be facing the two loss Huskies in the Apple Cup on November 25th.  The Cougs defensively have been as good as they have been in 15 years, but offensively the Cougs need to figure it out before they face the Husky defense in Seattle.  When the offense gets too stagnant, Leach has no problem pulling Luke for Hilinski.  Falk is looking for his first Apple Cup win in 3 attempts, and ending the 4 game Husky win streak. 

The Cougs push the ball more when they need to then consistently throughout the game and they are going to need to in order to help their defense.  For the second straight year, the Apple Cup is going to decide the winner of the Pac-12 North.

 

 

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Cougs Win Last Home Game

In Luke Falk’s last game as a home game as a Coug, he passed for 337 yards including 3 touchdowns and set the Pac 12 record for yards in a career as the Cougs get by the 17th ranked  Stanford Cardinal 24-21.

A snow storm hit Pullman right before game time and continued throughout the game.  It was a cold day so Stanford tried to utilize their Heisman hopeful Bryce Love, who missed last week’s game with a high ankle sprain.  To start the 2nd quarter, Love reeled off a 52 yard run to give the Cardinal a 7-0 lead. 

After getting pulled last week because of low offensive production, Falk completed a 9 play 75 yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Tavares Martin Jr. in the middle of the end zone to tie the game at 7.  The next drive, Falk connected with Renard Bell from 27 yards out to give the Cougs a 14-7 lead at half time.

The Cougar defense held Bryce Love to 69 yard total on 16 carries.  After the big run, they only allowed 17 yards from Love and tackled him for a loss 6 times including one tackle in the 3rd where Love hobbled off the field after Hercules Mata’afa leveled him.  After a 41 yard Erik Powell field goal, Stanford’s quarterback K.J. Costello pump faked, the ball slipped out of his hand, bounced back to him and ran 14 yards for the touchdown.  It appeared in the replay to the WSU fans that it was incomplete, but after review the referee ruled that he was bringing the ball into his body and ruled it a touchdown.

On the next Cougar possession, Falk was looking to complete a fourth and one from their own 48, but Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke Intercepted the pass and took it back 52 yards to get the Cardinal the lead 21-17.  After that score, the air was taken out of Martin Stadium and the Cougs needed a score to get back in this one.

Early in the 4th, Falk put together an 11 play, 95 yard touchdown drive that took up over 5 minutes.  Falk found Jamire Calvin who scampered 11 yards for the touchdown and gave the Cougs the lead for good.  In the final minute of the game, Costello was intercepted by Frankie Luvu to wrap up the victory for the Cougs.

The Cougs held the Stanford offense to only 198 yards of total offense, 52 of that coming from the one run in the first half.  The Cougs defense gave up over 300 on the ground last week against Arizona, and really clamped down Saturday. “Thought our defense played really well, mitigating their run game,” Leach said.

 

WSU sits at 8-2 and have 2 more games remaining. Next week at Utah and in 3 weeks in the Apple Cup against the Huskies.

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WSU Loses Big

The Washington State Cougars came into Friday night’s game looking to run the table the rest of the season, but the California Golden Bears had other ideas.  The Cougs were outplayed and gave up seven turnovers against a Cal team on a three game losing streak and were looking for a big win to turn their season around.  Bothell native Ross bowers who beat Chiawana in the state Championship 3 years ago threw for 259 yards and one touchdown, as well as ran for another and his Golden Bears thrashed the eighth ranked Cougars 37-3. 

The game started out strange, and continued that way all night.  On the opening kickoff of the game, freshman receiver Renard Bell took the opening kickoff to the endzone but was nullified by a holding penalty.  Three plays later, Falk was intercepted by Camryn Bynum at the Cougar 20 yard line. On their second possession, the Pac-12 player of the week Erik Powell who made four field goals against Oregon, missed a 49 yard field goal.  In their third possession, on the opening play of the drive, Falk connected with Jamire Calvin for a ten yard gain who then fumbled the ball and Cal’s Devante Downs returned it four yards to the WSU 48. 

On the following possession Vic Enwere  ran the ball 6 yards to the end zone to give the Bears a 10-0 lead late in the first.  The next Cougar possession, Falk put together a 15 play drive that took over 8 minutes, and Luke found Tavares Martin Jr. in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, but was called back because of a slight push off by Martin.  This was something the Cougs have been doing all year, and really didn’t seem to affect the play, but was how it went for WAZZU on Friday night.  Erik Powell connected on a 52 yard field goal for their only points of the game. 

In the final 2 minutes of the half, Falk rushed for 8 yards on 3rd and 10 and was hit in the helmet and called for targeting, which was then over turned.  Mitchell  Cox then punted the ball that went off the side of his foot and sailed 1 yard, so the Bears started their drive from the Cougar 45 yard line with 52 seconds left in the half.  Bowers drove the Bears down to the 2 yard line with two seconds left in the half.  They chose to go for the 6 points, and under pressure, Bowers was able to find Kyle Wells open to give the Bears 17-3 lead at half and  huge control of the game.

Falk came out in the second half firing, but on their first drive out of the locker room, Falk’s shovel pass bounced off the backs arm and intercepted by Raymon Davison at the Cal 14.  The Cougs just couldn’t get it together all night.  Two more of Falk’s five interceptions were deflected off WSU players.  Early in the fourth on 3rd and goal from the seven with the Bears up 20-3, Ross Bowers ran the ball and dove over the goal line, flipping into the endzone.  This looked identical to Bowers flip into the end zone against Chiawana in the state championship in 2014.  The 24 point deficit was too much for the Cougs to overcome this time and the eighth ranked Cougs were shocked by Cal.  “We didn’t play good in any aspect of the game.  Cal outcoached us, Cal outplayed us, “  Mike Leach said.  “They wanted to win more than we did, they tried harder than we did.  Our guys just saunter around the field like we had accomplished something.”

 

The Cougs needed this wake up call.  Last year opened up with two losses, which changed their mindset and following that game, they reeled off eight straight wins.  The Cougs haven’t played up to their potential all season.  They escaped Boise State and USC, but didn’t look like they had it all together, and Friday night showed that.  The Cougs play Colorado at home next Saturday then travel to Arizona.  The Cougs can just learn from their mishaps in this game.  23 yards of Rushing and 337 yards of total offense is uncharacteristic of the Cougs, and have nowhere to go but up.

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Cougs Improve to 6-0

Luke Falk threw for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns as the Cougs take down the one loss Oregon Ducks 33-10.  The Cougs traveled down I-5 to play the always dangerous Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium.  Last Friday, the Cougs finished off the fifth ranked USC Trojans for their biggest win since 2003, and were in danger of falling into the “Let down game” trap.

Falk put WAZZU on the board early on their first play from scrimmage dumping the ball to running back Jamal Morrow who ran 41 yards to the end zone to put the Cougs up 7-0 early. The Oregon Ducks who had their first and second string quarterbacks knocked out the game last week against Cal, and were starting true freshman Braxton Burmeister who only had one pass as a college quarterback.   “They have an offensive identity that they’ve had for a long time, and obviously that guy was going to try to duplicate that,” Coach Mike Leach said. The Coug defense was licking its chops and put the pressure on the freshman sacking him 4 times.  Late in the first, Burmeister connected with Jacob Breeland for a 30 yard touchdown strike to give the Ducks the 10-7 lead.  The Cougs were able to tack on a couple of field goals, and took a 13-10 lead at half.

To start the half, Falk drove the Cougs 75 yards in 7 plays ending in a 10 yard touchdown pass to Renard Bell. “It was really big because in the first half, we left a lot of points out there,” Falk said, “Kinda takes confidence away from the other side and punching it in gives us tremendous confidence in the second half.”  Late in the third, Burmeister was intercepted by Marcus Strong and returned 27 yards to the Oregon 25 yard line. The next play Falk connected with Isaiah Johnson-Mack for the 25 yard touchdown to put the game away up 30-10 in the fourth.  “It was a tighter game than the score, I did feel like something was going to blow it open.  There are a lot of key points, but I thought one was Luke hitting Isaiah for the touchdown,” Leach said.

 

The Cougs did a great job of adjusting in the second half and held the Duck offense to 277 yards and 132 on the ground which is usually their bread and butter.  The Cougs start 6-0 for the first time since 2001 and go on the road Friday to face Cal who lost their last 2 games including a 38-7 drubbing by the Washington Huskies Saturday night.  The Cougs are going to jump into the top 10 for the first time since the 2003 season.

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Cougs Upset Trojans

The Cougs rode Luke Falk’s 340 yards of passing to the upset win over USC.  Jamal Morrow added 136 yards of both running and receiving with two touchdowns to help secure the 30-27 win over the fifth ranked Trojans.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold came into this season as the Heisman front runner, but after 5 games with 9 interceptions, has quickly declined.   There was still a question of whether the Cougars defense was as improved as they looked in the first four weeks or if that was because of the opponents that they’ve played.  Those questions were answered in a big way on Friday night when they were hurrying Darnold all game and forcing him into bad throws.  Darnold is projected as a number one draft pick, but the WAZZU made him look average.

The Cougs offense was slow to get started but got in the end zone early in the 2nd when Falk connected with Tavares Martin Jr. for a 28 yard touchdown to put the Cougs up 10-7.  The Next drive on 3rd and 4, half back Ronald Jones on a draw play took the ball 86 yards to take the lead back for the Trojans.  That deflated the air out of the building, then on the very next play from scrimmage, Falk’s pass was intercepted by Uchenna Nwosu on the WSU three yard line.  The Cougar defense held the Trojans on 3 consecutive plays and allowed only a field goal on a situation that could have really put the Cougs in a hole. 

Before the Half, Falk drove the ball 94 yards in just under 5 minutes and gave the ball to Jamal Morrow up the middle to tie the game at 17 going into the locker room.  “When you score right before half for some reason, it always seems to change the momentum a little,” Mike leach said.  The two teams battled throughout the second half, the Cougs seemingly leaving points on the field and having to settle for field goals.  In the 4th, with WSU threatening, Falk shoveled a pass to Jamal Morrow who ran for a 23 yard touchdown to give the Cougs a 27-20 lead.  That gave Darnold time to do what he did 2 weeks prior against Texas.  The Cougs had forced a 4th and 13 from the WSU 42 yard line.  Frankie Luvu crushed Darnold but the ball was somehow able to escape and fall into the hands of Tyler Vaugns for the first down.  A few plays later Darnold ran it in on an option from 2 yards out to tie the game. 

Falk was given just over five minutes to get the win.  On 3rd and 4 from the WSU 42, Jamal Morrow ran 35 yards to the Trojan 23 yard line.  WSU then ran the ball 3 times to get rid of USC’s timeouts and added an Erik Powell 32 yard field goal.  That gave Sam Darnold 1:40 and no timeouts to tie or win the game.  Jahad Woods hit Darnold from behind, the ball came loose and Derek Moore recovered it to secure the win for WSU and their first 5-0 start since 2001.  “It was a really good environment, it was fantastic, loud the whole game, exciting matchup,” Leach said following the game.  Falk got sacked 5 times and was rushed quite a bit.  Afterwards Falk said, “I feel great, it was a really good team win.  We did a good job of stringing together that last drive.”

 

The Cougs go on the road to face the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on Saturday at 5pm.  Their starting quarterback Justin Herbert is out with a broken collar bone, and running back Royce Freeman is questionable.

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Cougs Roll Over Wolfpack

 

In a warm up game of sorts before the fourth ranked USC Trojans come to town, Luke Falk threw for 478 yards on 36 of 47 passing and 5 touchdowns as the Cougs dominate the lowly Nevada Wolf pack 45-7.

 

The Nevada Wolfpack came into Saturday’s game losing their previous 3 contests including last week to FCS team Idaho State.  They have had a quarterback carousel and started their third string quarterback against the Cougs.  David Cornwell is a graduate transfer from Alabama and was supposed to right the ship for the Nevada Wolfpack but a bad fall camp put him third in the depth chart.  His first action was Saturday and he went 13 of 25 with 97 yards and 3 interceptions as the Cougar defense dominated their front all day.

 

After turning the ball over on downs in their first drive, Luke Falk connected with Jamal Morrow for a 12 yard touchdown pass and the Cougs led 7-0 early.  Next drive, Falk found James Williams who broke some tackles on his way to 6 points.

 

The Cougar defense shut down all aspects of the Wolfpack offense.  Nevada had only 75 yards of total offense in the first half with only 41 yards of passing.  The second quarter was more of the same for the Cougs, with Falk passing for 2 more touchdowns.  Falk hit Tavares Martin Jr. for a 40 yard touchdown pass early in the 2nd Wuarter.    Then connect with Jamire Calvin from 6 yards out to give the Cougs a 35-0 lead at halftime.  The Cougs added 10 more points in the 2nd half and allowed a touchdown late, but by that time the Cougs were rotating in guys quite a bit. 

 

The Cougs played an overall good game having 2 receivers with over 100 yards in Martin Jr. and Renard Bell and also added 131 yards on the ground.  This was a good tune up for Friday night where we will see the 4th rank USC Trojans come to Pullman.  WAZZU hasn’t played their best game yet, but have put together some pieces from their first 2 games that should help them.  The Trojans are a different animal, and if the Cougs start out slow like they did against Boise State, it could be a long night.

 

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The Most Wonderful Season of All

Football season is back!  College games have already begun, NFL is finishing up the pre-season, and High School Football is set to return this weekend!

There are several story lines across those many levels:the Seahawks make a return bid for the Super Bowl, the Cougars and Huskies both look to make noise in the Pac-12 North (and nationally), Luke Falk is a legitimate Heisman contender, the 3A HS level does not have the spectre of Bellevue (being banned from state play), and new favorites will emerge across all classifications.

We will bring you some unique and exclusive content all year long!  It should be fun!

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