Luke Falk continued his rampage through the Pac-12, throwing for 514 yards and five touchdowns, including a school-record four to Gabe Marks, in leading Washington State to a 45-42 victory over Arizona Saturday in Tucson, AZ., that wasn’t decided until WSU recovered an onside kick with 44 seconds to play (box). The Cougars (5-2, 3-1) have won three in a row for the first time since early in the 2013 season and three consecutive conference games for the first time since midway through 2003.
After Arizona cut a 17-point (38-21) WSU lead to 38-35, Falk ran a keeper for a first down on fourth-and-one, setting up what proved to be his game-winning TD pass to Marks. With WSU leading 45-35, the Wildcats scored in five plays to make it 45-42, and then tried an onside kick that WSU receiver Dom Williams snatched to preserve the Cougars’ victory.
Falk’s touchdown passes to Marks covered 6, 43, 2 and nine yards. Marks finished with eight catches for 97 yards. Falk, who has six 300-yard passing games this season, and two above 500, has tossed 16 touchdown passes in his past three games and 26 for the season.
Falk completed passes to 10 different receivers, River Cracraft catching eight for 102 yards. Robert Lewis had five catches for 76 yards. Falk’s 26 touchdown passes are the most in the Pac-12.
The Cougars amassed 631 yards of total offense to Arizona’s 483, and controlled the clock for 37:53 to the Wildcats’ 22:07.
The Cougars essentially knocked Arizona’s starting quarterback, Anu Solomon, out of the game, but had a hard time containing his backup, Jerrard Randall, who threw for 137 yards and rushed for 105 on 10 carries.
The Cougars held Arizona’s top two runners, Jared Baker and Nick Wilson, to a combined 30 yards rushing, although Baker scored on two short TD runs.
Arizona’s Caleb Jones caught eight passes for 131 yards and his three-yard TD pass from Randall with 22 seconds left in the third quarter sliced Washington State’s lead to 38-28.
“We didn’t really have all the pieces tucked in and into place. We had good individual effort, but we really didn’t play well early in the year. We’ve steadily improved on playing together. I can say that I’m very proud of our guys. We’re underdogs all the time, so this was a great win” — Mike Leach, WSU head coach.
“Every game it seems like we’re talking about this is the game and I guess when you’re winning the pressure keeps getting higher and higher. Every game I feel we’re solidifying ourselves and being what we thought we were” — Gabe Marks, Washington state wide receiver.
Marks established a Washington State single-game record with his four touchdown catches. The previous record of three was originally set by Jack Fanning against Nebraska in 1957 and last matched by River Cracraft against California in 2014 . . . Washington State has won three conference games in a row for the first time since 2003, when the Cougars defeated Oregon, Arizona, Stanford and Oregon State.
The Cougars return to Martin Stadium next Saturday to face Stanford at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.