Falk leads No. 25 Washington State past Arizona, 69-7
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Washington State talked about starting fast against Arizona.
The No. 25 Cougars jumped to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter and crushed Arizona 69-7 on Saturday for their seventh consecutive victory.
“Everything we touched worked,” coach Mike Leach said.
Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns for Washington State (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12, No. 25 CFP), which had its highest points total since 1997 and the most ever against a Pac-12 opponent.
The Cougars hadn’t won seven straight games since 2002. They and No. 4 Washington remain the only teams with undefeated Pac-12 records.
“We played together the whole game,” Leach said. “We talked all week of playing a complete game. I’m glad we didn’t let up.”
Washington State scored on its first six possessions and held a 38-7 lead at halftime.
“It feels amazing,” said running back James Williams, who rushed for 72 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Leach noted he has been on both sides of such blowouts.
“We are definitely not that good and they are definitely not that bad,” Leach said. “The defense did a good job of finding a way to keep them out of the end zone.”
Arizona (2-7, 0-6), which has lost six games in a row, struggled on offense behind quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins, Anu Solomon and Khalil Tate. They combined to complete 11 of 23 passes for 128 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
“I’m embarrassed and we should be embarrassed and it starts with me,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “That’s a good team. They played well and we didn’t. ‘We’re better than this, even with all the adversity.”
Falk, who was relieved late in the third quarter by Tyler Hilinski, completed 32 of 35 passes. He was not intercepted or sacked. Hilinski completed 15 of 17 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Combined, the two quarterbacks threw six touchdown passes against only five incomplete passes.
“That’s pretty good,” Leach said.
“It was a real good, complete win,” Falk, whose 91 percent completion rate was a team record, said. “Our mentality was right all week.”
Washington State piled up 614 yards of offense while limiting Arizona to 286 yards. Samajie Grant rushed for 77 yards for the Wildcats.
Washington State’s Gerard Wicks ran for two touchdowns, and Tavares Martin Jr. caught two touchdown passes.
Rodriguez said he believes his team can turn things around.
“We’ll climb out of this,” he said. “It’s just right now it’s not fun.”
Washington State opened the scoring with Erik Powell’s 23-yard field goal on its first possession.
On the ensuing series, Shalom Luani intercepted Brandon Dawkins’ pass deep in Arizona territory and returned it to the 8. Williams caught a touchdown pass from Falk on the first play for a 10-0 lead.
Wicks scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on Washington State’s next possession.
With Solomon now playing quarterback, Arizona turned the ball over on downs at midfield. Falk hit Gabe Marks for a 2-yard touchdown pass and a 24-0 lead, still in the first quarter.
Arizona drove deep into Washington State territory, but Solomon fumbled and the ball was recovered on the 7 by WSU’s Peyton Pelluer. Jamal Morrow caught a 53-yard pass from Falk to place the ball on Arizona’s 10, and Tavares Martin Jr. caught a 7-yard touchdown pass for a 31-0 lead.
Wicks scored on a 1-yard run for a 38-0 lead.
Solomon fired a 47-yard touchdown pass to Cam Denson as Arizona got on the scoreboard with 1:55 left in the first half.
Arizona: The Wildcats rotated their quarterbacks all game, but could not generate much offense. The defense proved porous to WSU’s Air Raid.
Washington State: Played without star nose tackle Robert Barber, who has been suspended from school for his role in a fight at a party. But Washington State had a big day on defense anyway, holding Arizona to 158 rushing yards, 50 of them on one play.
Washington State is certain to move up in the Top 25 poll after this convincing victory over a long-time nemesis. Arizona still leads the series 26-16.
Arizona hosts Colorado next Saturday.
Washington State hosts California next Saturday.