It meant something special to Frankie Luvu that he managed to get his first career interception with his parents in the building on Senior Day.

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PULLMAN – Frankie Luvu’s family traveled 5,348 miles from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Pullman this week so they could be at Martin Stadium to congratulate him on Senior Day.

It was the first time in Luvu’s four years that his family has been able to come watch him play college football, and with his father, Veresa, his mother Ia, and two of his eight siblings in the stands, Luvu played with just a little extra motivation.

He ended up making the biggest defensive play of the afternoon: Intercepting Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello with 15 seconds left to seal a 24-21 win for 25th-ranked WSU.

“It’s just the little details that coach (Roy) Manning has been talking about – reading the quarterback’s eyes,” Luvu said of his first career interception. “Eventually, I got one.”

This trip was a big deal for the Luvus. The family came out to Senior Day dressed in customized WSU sweatshirts decorated with Samoan-style art, and the name “Luvu” on the back. They also brought Frankie a laumaile – a traditional Samoan lei-type necklace made of leaves – that he wore proudly in the post-game news conference.

This trip marked Veresa Luvu’s first flight from American Samoa to the mainland, and his presence meant a lot to Frankie. Veresa Luvu works at a tuna cannery, and it’s difficult for him to take enough time off to make the long trip to Pullman.

“It’s emotional for me because he’s always trying to work,” said Frankie Luvu. “So I’m excited my brothers got him to come up. He looks excited today.”

Luvu had three tackles, including half a TFL in the win.

WSU’s other senior Samoan starter, nose tackle Daniel Ekuale, also had a big game. Ekuale recorded his first sack of the year, and the third of his career. He finished with three tackles including 1.5 for loss.

Ekuale had his uncle and cousin with him on Senior Day, but said his parents didn’t make the trip from Samoa because his aunt recently died after a fight with cancer.

“We’re not satisfied yet. We’ve got two more games to go,” Ekuale said. “But to come out here in our last home game in front of our fans and get our job done is good enough for us. But we’ve gotta get back to work tomorrow.”


Watch: Frankie Luvu after WSU’s 24-21 win


Kickoff coverage the blemish in the win

WSU coach Mike Leach complimented his team on playing a complete game to beat Stanford, but the one area that needs significant improvement is on kickoff coverage.

The Cougars gave up kick returns of 18, 32, 30 and 47 yards, and on two occasions, it fell to kicker Erik Powell to make last-ditch, touchdown-saving tackles.

“We’re happy for Powell, but we’re not happy about the rest of it. We weren’t very good on kickoff cover today,” Leach said. “We’re glad he made those tackles, but the idea as we draw this up, we’re not drawing it up saying ‘hey if we do this and this we can funnel the guy to Powell.’”

It helps that at 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, Powell is built like a linebacker, and is constantly lauded by the strength coaches for his prowess in the weight room.

WSU’s senior kicker made his only field goal attempt of the day – a 41-yarder in the third quarter – and converted his three PATs.

Morrow quietly climbing WSU’s record book

Running back Jamal Morrow led the offense with 136 all-purpose yards against Stanford. That tally included a career-high 16 carries for 67 yards, and five receptions for 64 yards.

Morrow is now sixth in school history with 186 receptions. With 4,065 career all-purpose yards, Morrow is chasing Rueben Mayes (4,418) for second place in school history.

Morrow also caught an 8-yard pass from Falk in the second quarter that helped Falk pass former Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion for the Pac-12 career passing yardage record.

“I should have dropped it huh?” Morrow joked, cheekily, then said, “That was awesome to receive that catch from him.”

Wicks injured in win

Gerard Wicks, a senior running back, appeared to injure his left leg at the end of a 5-yard run on WSU’s final offensive drive. Wick was unable to put weight on his left leg as trainers helped him off the field.

More notable stats:

  • LB Justus Rogers had his first career sack, and finished with six tackles, including a team-high 2.5 for loss.
  • DT Hercules Mata’afa continues his climb up WSU’s career record book. He recorded 1.5 tackles for lost against the Cardinal to move into fifth place in school history, with 16.5.
  • WSU has now beaten Stanford twice in a row for the first time since the 2006-07 seasons.