Luke Falk engineered a seven-play, 99-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter that lifted Washington State to a 38-24 victory over Arizona State Saturday at Martin Stadium and made the Cougars bowl eligible at 6-3, 4-2 (box) — a remarkable turnaround after WSU dropped its season opener to Portland State of the FCS Big Sky. After falling behind 14-0, WSU stormed back behind Falk, who started slowly but finished with 497 yards and five touchdown passes.
On second-and-eight from the WSU 15-yard line (the drive began inside the one), Falk, under heavy pressure, and WR Robert Lewis collaborated on a 47-yard gain to the ASU 38-yard line. Three plays later, Falk connected with Jamal Morrow on a 13-yard touchdown for a 31-21 lead with 8:01 remaining. After Arizona State sliced the lead to 31-24 with a field goal, Falk put a cherry on another outstanding afternoon with a 75-yard touchdown toss to WR Dom Williams.
Falk completed 35 of 54 passes and threw TDs of 11 and 75 yards to Williams, 23 yards to Keith Harrington, eight yards to John Thompson and 12 yards to Morrow. Falk has eight 300-yard passing games this season and 12 for his career, tying him for No. 2 on WSU’s all-time list with Ryan Leaf and Alex Brink (Connor Halliday had 21).
Falk, the Pac-12 leader in passing yards and total offense, also has seven career 400-yard passing games and has thrown 33 touchdown passes this season. The school record for a single season is 34, by Leaf in 1997 and Halliday in 2013.
The Cougars, who amassed 512 total yards, managed only 15 yards rushing, but more than made up for it in the passing game. Williams caught eight for 123 yards. His two touchdowns hiked his career total to 27. He is five behind Jason Hill’s school record. Williams has nine multiple-TD games, an on-going school record.
WR Gabe Marks caught six passes for 65 yards and ranks third in WSU history with 192 career receptions, three away from Michael Bumpus’ record (195).
The Cougars, who lost last week on a last-second missed field goal against Stanford, caught a huge break near the end of the first half. Facing fourth-and-five at the ASU 11, Falk threw a pass that failed to pick up the first down. But the officials blew an inadvertent whistle, giving the Cougars a fifth down. On the next play, Falk hit Williams for a touchdown as the Cougars closed to within 14-10.
The Cougars allowed Arizona State 202 rushing yards, including 111 by Demario Richard, but held quarterback Mike Bercovici to 229 passing yards and intercepted him once (Darrien Molton).
In the first quarter, WSU’s fourth-down stand, when ASU could have gone up 21-0, turned the game.
Parker Henry led WSU with 14 tackles (9 solo) and recorded one of the Cougars’ three sacks.
Washington State snapped a three-game losing streak to the Sun Devils and beat ASU in Pullman for the first time since 2011 (37-27) . . . Washington State is bowl eligible for the first time since 2013 and for the second time in Mike Leach’s four-year tenure at the school.
The Cougars travel to Pasadena to face the UCLA Bruins at 7:45 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).