Luke Falk set a Pac-12 record with six touchdown passes in the first half as Washington State rolled to a 45-17 halftime lead and crushed hapless Oregon State Saturday at Martin Stadium in Pullman, 52-31 (box). Had coach Mike Leach unleashed Falk in the second half, which he declined to do, the redshirt sophomore could have obliterated both the conference and WSU record books.
The Cougars improved to 4-2, 2-1 and completed their first sweep of the Oregon schools since 2006. WSU defeated the Ducks in double overtime last week. The Beavers, never in it, fell to 2-4, 0-3.
WSU’s Tavaris Martin returned the opening kickoff 51 yards and Falk orchestrated an easy, 49-yard, eight-play drive, capped by a three-yard TD to River Cracraft. In their first 17 plays, the Cougars scored two touchdowns before Oregon State recorded a first down.
Falk in the first half threw TDs to Cracraft, 3 and 11 yards to Dom Williams, 23 yards to Gabe Marks and 8 and 22 yards to Jamal Morrow. He completed 28 of 33 for 323 yards, including 9-for-140 yards to Williams, and set a Pac-12 record for TD passes in a half.
Falk had more TD passes in the first half (6) than incompletions (5). He became the first Power 5 quarterback to do so since Kenny Guiton for Ohio State in 2013.
Washington State’s 45 first-half points were the most in the first two quarters of a game since Nov. 8, 1997 when the Cougars put up 56 against SW Louisiana.
Given the 45-17 first-half lead, Falk made little attempt to break records in the second half, in fact tossing two interceptions. The Cougars largely kept the ball on the ground and drained the clock.
Falk was 39 of 50 for 407 yards to 11 receivers, but his longest completion of the day was only 28 yards. He has five 300-yard passing games this year and increased his total to 20 touchdown passes.
Williams finished with 11 receptions for 158 yards, both career single-game highs, as the Cougars amassed 520 total yards to Oregon State’s 394. Marks caught six balls for 95. Washington State was successful on eight of 12 third-down conversions.
The Cougars allowed Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins 124 rushing yards and 176 passing yards. Collins threw one touchdown pass and ran for another.
Shalom Luani recorded two interceptions, returning his first 84 yards for a pick-six to give the Cougars their final points. That balanced in explosive plays a 100-yard kickoff return TD by the Beavers’ Victor Bolden in the second quarter.
Peyton Pelleur finished with 11 tackles, 10 unassisted.
“We played a really good first half, but not a great second half. I thought it was exciting how we played on offense, defense and special teams in the first half. I was a little disappointed on how we played in the second half and we’ll have to get better as we move on to Arizona next week” — Leach.
“I just want to play a complete game. I’m looking forward to Arizona” — Falk.
Falk’s TD passes tied the Washington State single-game record held by Jason Gesser against Arizona in 2000 and Connor Halliday against Colorado State in 2013. Falk fell one TD pass shy of matching the conference record (for a non-overtime game),set by Arizona State’s Mike Pagel in 1981 and matched by USC’s Cody Kessler against Colorado in 2014 . . . Oregon State had won six of the previous eight meetings . . . Washington State leads the all-time series 50-47-3 and have won four in a row from Oregon State in Pullman.
The Cougars travel to the desert to face Arizona in Tucson at 1 p.m. Saturday (Pac-12 Networks).