Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez teams come together, points are expected. And neither the Washington State Cougars nor the Arizona Wildcats disappointed as the Cougars pulled away in the closing minutes to wrap up a 45-42 win over host Arizona.
WSU quarterback Luke Falk completed 47 of 62 passes for 514 yards and five touchdowns – including a clutch 9-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Marks with 2:03 left in the game to push the score to the final margin.
With the win, the Cougars have won three-straight conference games for the first time since 2003.
What the win means for the Cougars: With Cal’s loss to UCLA Thursday night, the Cougars jump the Bears for second in the North Division with a 3-1 record. That sets up a fascinating and unexpectedly significant matchup in Pullman next week between Stanford and Washington State with the North Division potentially on the line.
What the loss means for the Wildcats: With their third conference loss (2-3) Arizona’s chances of repeating as South Division champs are probably shot. It has to go on the road in back-to-back-weeks -- at Washington and at USC -- before returning home for its last home game of the season against Utah. The Wildcats close the season at Arizona State and need to find one more win to become bowl eligible.
It was over when: After the Wildcats cut the score to 45-42 with less than a minute to play, WSU’s Dom Williams recovered the onside kick attempt, and the Cougars were able to run out the clock and suppress Arizona’s comeback effort.
The game turned when: With 2:48 left to play and the Cougars leading 38-35, they opted to go for it on fourth-and-6 from the Arizona 6-yard-line rather than kicking a field goal. Arizona failed to line someone up over the center, so Falk took a sneak easily for a first down. On the ensuing play, Falk connected with Marks for their fourth touchdown and what proved to be the deciding points.
Player(s) of the game: The duo of Falk and Marks were fantastic. Marks ended the day with eight catches for 97 yards and four touchdowns. Falk scattered his 47 completions among 10 different receivers.