At home for the first time in three weeks, Washington State won 69-7. Falk set a school record with a 91.4 completion percentage.

Share story

PULLMAN — In essence, Washington State’s 69-7 laugher against Arizona in front of a sold out Dad’s Weekend crowd at Martin Stadium on Saturday felt like a culmination of everything the Cougars had been building toward ever since that now-distant 0-2 start to the season.

At home again for the first time in three weeks, the 25th-ranked Cougars (7-2, 6-0) shook off all the drama from Robert Barber’s ongoing fight against his suspension this week, and dominated the Wildcats from start to finish.

The Cougars’ 69 points were a program record against a Pac-12 team and the most they’ve scored since a 77-7 win at home against Southwest Louisiana in 1997.

“Everything we touched worked,” WSU coach Mike Leach said. “I thought we played together the whole game, and I’m proud of our guys for doing that. We’ve done it in spurts through the year. … We were really very focused. We talked all week about playing a complete game, and we just focused on that.”

The game was an exhibition showcase for the potency of the Air Raid offense operating at its peak, and its triggerman, quarterback Luke Falk, was resplendent, going 32 of 35 for 311 yards and four touchdowns, and completing 22 straight passes in one stretch.

Falk played only three quarters, but set a school record and new career best with a 91.4 completion percentage. That is the highest for any quarterback nationally with at least 35 pass attempts in a game since 2004.

WSU put its slow start against Oregon State firmly behind it, scoring 38 consecutive points before the hapless Arizona (2-7, 0-6) offense got on the board with a desperate Anu Solomon heave into double coverage that Cam Denson turned into a 47-yard touchdown.

“Last week, we got off to a slow start and the momentum from the second half of last game showed us what we were capable of doing,” said receiver Tavares Martin, who led WSU with nine receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns. “Everyone was locked in. Everyone was flying around.”

With his big day, Falk also passed Alex Brink for second place on WSU’s all-time list for career touchdown passes.

Falk’s first touchdown of the day – an 8-yard score caught by James Williams – tied him with Brink with 76 career touchdown passes, and put the Cougars up 10-0.

Career touchdown pass No. 77 came toward the end of the first quarter, when he connected with Gabe Marks for a 2-yard score.

Falk followed up with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Martin to begin the second quarter and put WSU up 31-0, and capped off his day with a 4-yard pass to Martin to finish with 79 in his career thus far.

Characteristically, the Cougars’ perfectionist starting quarterback wasn’t satisfied with his near-perfect day.

“I want it to be 100 percent,” Falk said of his 91.4 completion percentage. “We’ll go back and look at film and see what we did right and what we can improve on.”

In between Falk’s three touchdown passes, the Cougars sprinkled in some ground-and-pound from WSU’s three-headed running back monster, too.

Gerard Wicks finished with seven carries for 44 yards and a pair of first-half 1-yard touchdown runs.

Williams led the running backs, rushing 12 times for 72 yards, and catching nine balls for 45 receiving yards, with a receiving touchdown and a rushing score – a 4-yard run that capped a 75-yard, 5:44 drive to open the second half. He also popped off a couple more of the highlight reel-worthy runs he’s becoming known for.

Jamal Morrow was dynamite on punt returns, taking one 36 yards to start the Cougars’ offense out on at Arizona 25-yard-line, then stiff-arming and dragging defenders behind him on a 29-yard return that set the Cougars up close to midfield in the second quarter.

The Cougar defense pulled its weight too, forcing a three-and-out to start the game, then coming up with two turnovers in the first half – a Shalom Luani interception and 19-yard return, and a nifty forced fumble by Isaac Dotson, who yanked down Solomon with his left arm while reaching for the ball with his right. Peyton Pelluer recovered to give the ball back to WSU’s offense. WSU’s defense forced a third turnover when cornerback Treshon Broughton intercepted Arizona backup quarterback Khalil Tate late in the fourth quarter.

“Like Leach said, this is our best complete game that we’ve played,” Williams said. “If we play like this for the rest of the season, we can beat anybody.”

For 43 out of the first 45 minutes, the Cougars’ starters embarrassed a Wildcats team thinned by injury. Then, up 52-7 by the end of the third quarter, WSU pulled its offensive starters and gave the fans a glimpse of backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski.

Hilinski showed promise, going 15 of 17 for 163 yards and two scores. His first career touchdown pass was a 71-yard bomb to River Cracraft, and he followed that with a 9-yard pass that true-freshman receiver Isaiah Johnson-Mack caught for his first career touchdown reception.

WSU outgained Arizona 619 yards to 286, and held the Wildcats to 2 of 10 on third-down conversions.

“I’ve been on both sides of this, where it’s kind of a floodgates thing. We’re definitely not that good, and they’re definitely not that bad,” Leach said. “I have a lot of respect for that team, and they do a lot of good things.”

Top TD passers
Luke Falk now ranks second on WSU’s list for career touchdown passes.
No. Player Years
90 Connor Halliday 2011-14
79 Luke Falk 2014-current
76 Alex Brink 2004-07
70 Jason Gesser 1999-02
59 Ryan Leaf 1994-97