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Cougs Get a Win in Utah

The Cougs needed their 2nd road victory of the year to keep their Pac-12 Conference Championship hopes alive.  They traveled to Rice Eccles Stadium on Saturday to face the 5-4 Utah Utes in Salt Lake City.

The Coug defense didn’t disappoint, pressuring Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley all day forcing 7 sacks and 7 turnovers on the way to a 33-25 win.  The Cougs intercepted Huntley’s  Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game to get the win.

The defense got started early and often.  Early in the first Huntley connected with receiver Demari Simpkins for a 17 yard gain, but Robert Taylor knocked the ball loose, and the Cougs were in business at the Utah 46 yard line.  A few plays later, Falk found Tavares Martin Junior for an 11 yard touchdown completion and an early 7-0 lead.

A theme for the Cougar offense this season has been inconsistency.  The Cougs the past couple years had huge successes in the red zone, but this year has been a different story.  The Cougs stalled inside the 30 yard line three times in the first half alone, and got great field position for much of the first half thanks to three turnovers forced by the defense.

The Cougar offense was held to just 338 yards of total offense coming from 311 yards through the air, and only 27 yards on the ground.   Utah is known for their defense and held the Cougs to 10 of 21 on third down conversions.  Wazzu had opportunities and were moving the ball, just couldn’t convert on 3rd and short numerous times. 

Early in the 4th,  after a Utah fumble on their own 14 yard line, Falk connected with Isiah Johnson-Mack in the end zone to give the Cougs  a 33-18 lead.  That touchdown pass game Falk the Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes surpassing USC’s Matt Barkley. 

Utah was able to strike back and had a chance to tie the game with a hail mary as time expired, but Jalen Thompson intercepted it and secured the victory for the Cougars.

The Cougs are 9-2 and will be facing the two loss Huskies in the Apple Cup on November 25th.  The Cougs defensively have been as good as they have been in 15 years, but offensively the Cougs need to figure it out before they face the Husky defense in Seattle.  When the offense gets too stagnant, Leach has no problem pulling Luke for Hilinski.  Falk is looking for his first Apple Cup win in 3 attempts, and ending the 4 game Husky win streak. 

The Cougs push the ball more when they need to then consistently throughout the game and they are going to need to in order to help their defense.  For the second straight year, the Apple Cup is going to decide the winner of the Pac-12 North.

 

 

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Cougs Win Last Home Game

In Luke Falk’s last game as a home game as a Coug, he passed for 337 yards including 3 touchdowns and set the Pac 12 record for yards in a career as the Cougs get by the 17th ranked  Stanford Cardinal 24-21.

A snow storm hit Pullman right before game time and continued throughout the game.  It was a cold day so Stanford tried to utilize their Heisman hopeful Bryce Love, who missed last week’s game with a high ankle sprain.  To start the 2nd quarter, Love reeled off a 52 yard run to give the Cardinal a 7-0 lead. 

After getting pulled last week because of low offensive production, Falk completed a 9 play 75 yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Tavares Martin Jr. in the middle of the end zone to tie the game at 7.  The next drive, Falk connected with Renard Bell from 27 yards out to give the Cougs a 14-7 lead at half time.

The Cougar defense held Bryce Love to 69 yard total on 16 carries.  After the big run, they only allowed 17 yards from Love and tackled him for a loss 6 times including one tackle in the 3rd where Love hobbled off the field after Hercules Mata’afa leveled him.  After a 41 yard Erik Powell field goal, Stanford’s quarterback K.J. Costello pump faked, the ball slipped out of his hand, bounced back to him and ran 14 yards for the touchdown.  It appeared in the replay to the WSU fans that it was incomplete, but after review the referee ruled that he was bringing the ball into his body and ruled it a touchdown.

On the next Cougar possession, Falk was looking to complete a fourth and one from their own 48, but Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke Intercepted the pass and took it back 52 yards to get the Cardinal the lead 21-17.  After that score, the air was taken out of Martin Stadium and the Cougs needed a score to get back in this one.

Early in the 4th, Falk put together an 11 play, 95 yard touchdown drive that took up over 5 minutes.  Falk found Jamire Calvin who scampered 11 yards for the touchdown and gave the Cougs the lead for good.  In the final minute of the game, Costello was intercepted by Frankie Luvu to wrap up the victory for the Cougs.

The Cougs held the Stanford offense to only 198 yards of total offense, 52 of that coming from the one run in the first half.  The Cougs defense gave up over 300 on the ground last week against Arizona, and really clamped down Saturday. “Thought our defense played really well, mitigating their run game,” Leach said.

 

WSU sits at 8-2 and have 2 more games remaining. Next week at Utah and in 3 weeks in the Apple Cup against the Huskies.

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