Falk throws 5 TD passes, Cougars beat Oregon St. 39-32

  • Associated Press
  • Saturday, November 8, 2014 6:43pm
  • SportsSports

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Luke Falk doesn’t remember all that much about his first start, just that it was a win.

He’ll no doubt look back and be impressed that he threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns to lift Washington State out of a four-game losing streak with a 39-32 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.

“It was just kind of a blur,” he said. “The one thing on my mind was getting the win.”

Tyler Baker caught nine of Falk’s passes for 113 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) who also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Beavers (4-5, 1-5).

Falk started for the Cougars in place of senior Connor Halliday, who broke his ankle last weekend in the first quarter of the Cougars’ 44-17 loss to USC. The injury ended the prolific senior passer’s college career.

Several players wrote CH12 somewhere on bare arms, wrist and wraps, or shoes in honor of Halliday.

“We were playing for Connor today,” running back Jamal Morrow said. “I’m pretty sure he’s proud of us back at home.”

Falk was poised and confident from the start against the Beavers, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.

Going into the game the Beavers had allowed just seven touchdown receptions over the season, and their pass defense ranked second in the conference behind Stanford.

Falk said in the hours leading up to the game, he wasn’t really considering his stats.

“The only number I wanted to put up was that one win,” he said. “It’s the most important stat and I’m glad we got it.”

Sean Mannion, who set the Pac-12 all-time record for passing yards last weekend in a loss to California, threw for 419 yards and a touchdown.

Garrett Owens added four field goals for the Beavers, who have lost four straight. With just three games left following the game against the Cougars, Oregon State’s chances for bowl eligibility are narrowing.

“It’s disappointing to lose that one,” Mannion said. “I thought that offensively we battled hard all game. I know for a fact it was never a question of effort. I’m really proud of the way this team has been able to fight our way back.”

The Beavers scored on their first series, a 75-yard, four-play drive capped by Mannion’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Connor Hamlett.

The Cougars had a chance to close the gap but Quentin Breshears’ 31-yard field goal attempt went wide left. Oregon State’s Garrett Owens made a 24-yard field goal on the other end to make it 10-0.

Falk found Isiah Myers in the end zone with 5-yard scoring pass before end of the first quarter. He put the Cougars in front early in the second with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Baker.

Owens made a 37-yard field goal for the Beavers to cut Washington State’s lead to 14-13 but Falk threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Vince Mayle to extend the Cougars’ lead. It was Mayle’s 83rd reception of the season, a school record.

Owens hit again on a 44-yard field goal, narrowing Washington State’s lead to 21-16 at halftime.

Breshears opened the second half with a 32-yard field goal to extend the lead but the Beavers’ running game finally awoke after gaining just 11 yards in the first half and scored on Terron Ward’s 1-yard touchdown run. The pass failed on the conversion but Oregon State still narrowed it to 24-22.

It appeared that the Beavers had taken over the lead on Mannion’s 38-yard pass play to Victor Bolden, but it was called back by offensive holding on Hunter Jarmon. Oregon State settled for Owens’ 46-yard field goal for a 25-24 lead.

Falk answered by efficiently marching the Cougars downfield, capping the drive with an 18-yard touchdown scoring pass on the run to Dom Williams. After the conversion, Washington State led 32-25 with 11:01 left.

Falk hit Robert Lewis with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 5:57 left before the Beavers answered with another 1-yard scoring run for Ward for the final margin.

Falk’s 44 passes were the most ever thrown by an opposing quarterback at Reser Stadium.

“The most impressive part of the last game and of this one was how (Falk) was able to step out here and calmly be effective,” Leach said about his quarterback.

Last year the Beavers scored five unanswered touchdowns, including four in the fourth quarter, and beat the Cougars 52-24 in Pullman. Mannion threw for a school-record 493 yards and four scores, while Brandin Cooks — now with the New Orleans Saints — had 171 yards in total offense and three touchdowns, two via pass and one via rush.

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