BY SPNW Staff 01:02AM 11/15/2015

Game recap: Washington State 31, UCLA 27

QB Luke Falk demonstrated remarkable resilience in coming back from a blow to the head to throw the game-winning touchdown pass with three seconds left to beat No. 22 UCLA 31-27.

Mike Leach’s Cougars are having their best season since 2003. / Gary Breedlove, Sportspress Noerthwest

Takeaway

Despite leaving the game in the first half with apparent disorientation after his head was slammed into the turf after a sack, QB Luke Falk returned in the second half to lead the Washington State Cougars to a dramatic late touchdown to beat No. 22 UCLA 31-27 (box score) in front of 76,255 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Saturday night to improve to 7-3.

Essential moment

Having surrendered a touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:09 remaining following Falk’s lone interception, things looked bleak for the Cougars, trailing 27-24. Falk, oft-abused by UCLA’s pass rush, led a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped with a 21-yard flip to Gabe Marks for the TD with three seconds to play.

Offense

Falk was 38-for-53 for 331 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He exited the field with 2:45 to play in the second quarter after being sacked and having his head  bounce off the ground.

Falk took an early walk to the halftime locker room, but backup QB Peyton Bender finished the half well, throwing a seven-yard TD pass to Dom Williams, the first of Bender’s collegiate career.

Marks was Falk’s favorite target. The junior hauled in 12 receptions for 92 yards and two scores. Williams finished with 100 receiving yards after seven catches and a touchdown.

Defense

WSU forced two fumbles, recovering both. The Cougars allowed UCLA QB Josh Rosen to throw for 340 yards, but kept him from recording a passing TD.

The Cougars blocked their first punt since 2013, courtesy of the outstretched hands of Dyland Hanser, but the ensuing drive resulted in a punt.

Words

“Luke’s really tough and I’ve always admired that trait about him. What a comeback.” – WSU coach Mike Leach on Falk’s return from injury after he was sacked and thrown down down by UCLA’s Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.

Noteworthy

The 7-3 mark is WSU’s best start since an 8-2 start in 2003 . . . Falk’s game-winning toss to Marks gave him 35 passing touchdowns, a school record, surpassing Ryan Leaf (1997) and Connor Holliday (2013), who each threw 34 . . . Falk’s 331 yards gave him 4,067 yards so far, second-best in program history.

Next

The Cougars host the University of Colorado Buffaloes Saturday at 7:45 p.m. The Buffaloes are 4-7, including a 27-24 loss Friday to USC.


YourThoughts

  • MacPhisto92

    Believe it or this Cougar team could be undefeated at the moment. All 3 of their losses were games they should’ve/could’ve easily won. I’ll never figure out how they lost to Portland St. They were a single play away from beating both Cal and Stanford..ugh, what could have been. Cougs should still make a quality bowl game, and still have a tiny shot at winning the North thanks to the Ducks. I think with Falk being only a sophomore, WSU will contend for the Pac 12 title the next couple of years. There’s not a single team they can’t play with now. Leach seems to finally have his system in place, and the recruits to fill the proper roles. The Air Raid can be very successful when the defense is playing bend but don’t break in the Red Zone. I’d still like to see better defense between the 20′s, but they seem to be improving overall.

    • Mary Scott


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    • Duck Stream

      You could also argue they could be 4-6 (swing wins over Rutgers, Oregon, and UCLA as losses). They deserve the record they have, just saying when you start playing the “could have” game, it works both ways.

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