River Cracraft has been on a roll, tallying six receptions for 74 yards to lead WSU against UCLA. But should he have had a touchdown too?

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PULLMAN – River Cracraft continued his hot streak for a second-straight week as Washington State held off a late game rally by UCLA to win 27-21.

Cracraft, a senior, led all WSU receivers with six catches for 74 yards in a performance which included an incredible leaping one-handed reception that wouldn’t have been out of place in the movie The Matrix.

He now has 13 receptions and 204 receiving yards in the last two games combined, and he also scored a receiving touchdown last week in the win at Stanford.

But Cracraft should have had a touchdown this weekend too. At least, that seemed to be the opinion of most of his teammates and WSU head coach Mike Leach, who said they thought Cracraft’s 21-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter should not have been ruled an incomplete pass.

From the replay, Cracraft’s knees and elbow both appeared to hit the ground in the end zone before he was shoved out of bounds by the UCLA defender and the ball popped out.

The official determined it an incomplete pass because, with the defender present on the play, Cracraft apparently needed to maintain possession of the ball all the way down.

“For the time being, all I’ll offer is, ‘Did I think it was a catch? Yes,’” Leach said, imploring reporters to “look at that verrrry verrry carefully and write what’s in your heart and in your mind.”

“The rest of that, that’s all up to you. Do whatever you think is fair, right and correct in such a situation,” Leach said.

Quarterback Luke Falk, who threw the pass, also said he thought it was a touchdown.

“We had a similar situation last year with Gabe (Marks). He caught a slant in the end zone, took a few steps and then they actually knocked it out,” Falk said, referencing a touchdown Marks caught in last season’s UCLA game. “I thought we were gonna have the same call. It looked like (Cracraft) caught it and had possession, and then he lost it at the last second.

“But when he was in the end zone, he looked like he had full possession.”

Cracraft deferred to the referees, though he too thought he’d scored.

“The refs, they made the right call in my opinion, but I thought both feet were down, my butt was down, both elbows were down,” Cracraft said. “But they made that call. Ultimately, I’ve gotta come up with the ball.”

With those six receptions against UCLA, Cracraft’s career tally now stands at 196, and he moved into second place behind teammate Gabe Marks on WSU’s career receptions list.

Falk snaps a 20-game streak

Until Saturday, Falk had thrown a touchdown pass in each of the 20 games he’d played in a WSU uniform.

But in Game 21, his 20-game, 67-touchdown streak was snapped. WSU scored all three of its touchdowns on the ground. Falk went 28 of 48 for 261 yards with one interception, but did not throw a touchdown.

“That was my fault,” Cracraft said, half-joking, half serious, referencing his touchdown that was ruled an incomplete pass.

“That’s shocking,” said running back Gerard Wicks. “We had one with Riv. They called it out of bounds.”

Falk took the end of his touchdown streak in stride.

“Hey, if we can do it other ways, if we win every game and I don’t throw a touchdown, I’ll be just fine and I’ll be happy,” Falk said. “If I throw for five yards and we win, I’m a happy guy.

“(We) just do whatever we can to win. It shows we’ve got a lot of weapons, got big guys up front and backs who can make plays. We’re not one-dimensional.”

UCLA calling WSU’s snap counts

WSU had two false start penalties and center Riley Sorenson incurred two snap infractions against UCLA.

Why all the penalties?

“They were definitely calling out the snap count,” Falk said. “It was frustrating because it’s illegal and stuff like that. They were doing it a few times and got us to false start at times.”

Center Riley Sorenson assumed blame for his snap infractions, however.

“It’s just something that we’ve gotta get used to,” he said. “I’ve got to be more disciplined in what I’m listening to.”

Cougs get amped to play UCLA

Last season, the Bruins annoyed WSU by warming up on the Cougars’ half of the field before the game. This season, they did it again, lingering in the WSU half of the field even after the Cougars came out for warm ups – though UCLA did eventually move over to their end of the field.

“Honestly no, we’re not shocked,” linebacker Peyton Pelluer said. “If that’s how they want to play, they’re gonna pay for it. I don’t know if they learned their lesson because they did it two years in a row, but it doesn’t matter. If they’re gonna disrespect us, we’re gonna beat them.”

Warm-up antics aside, playing UCLA is always personal for a WSU team that has numerous Los Angeles area natives on the roster.

“Playing a team from back home, I know everybody on that defense, so it was also personal for me, being an L.A. kid, playing UCLA up here in the rain,” said running back Gerard Wicks, who’s from Carson, Calif. “I know everybody on (UCLA’s) defense wasn’t ready. They’re used to the L.A. weather.”

More notes:

  • WSU improved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2003
  • The Cougars also recorded their first four-game win streak since 2003.
  • With two rushing touchdowns from Gerard Wicks and one from Jamal Morrow against UCLA, the Cougars now have 16 rushing touchdowns for the season — the most any WSU team has had since 2005 (20).
  • WSU forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) on defense to improve to 12-3 when forcing multiple turnovers under second-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
  • WSU’s 24 points against UCLA are the most any opponent has managed this season in regular time.
  • UCLA was shut out of a game in the first half for the first time since Oct. 19, 2013, when the Bruins trailed 0-3 at Stanford.
  • WSU’s completion percentage of 58 percent was the highest by any Bruin opponent this season.