Playing in front of his parents for the first time as a collegiate football player, Washington State senior linebacker Frankie Luvu picked off Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello to clinch a 24-21 win for the No. 25 Cougars (8-2, 5-2) over the No. 21 Cardinal (6-3, 5-2) in snowy Pullman on Saturday afternoon.
The Wazzu defense was the story of the day, holding Stanford to just 198 total yards, keeping the Cardinal under 200 by not allowing a single yard on the final drive. Stanford’s star running back, Bryce Love, was held to just 69 yards on 16 carries.
WSU quarterback Luke Falk had a bounce-back game of sorts himself, completing 34 of 48 passes for three touchdowns and an interception. Falk gave WSU a lead it would not relinquish when he hit Jamire Calvin for an 11-yard touchdown with 6:56 to play.
Stanford opened up the scoring early in the second quarter when Love broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run. For the rest of the game, it was a struggle for Love to find holes.
However, WSU would answer right back with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that featured a 24-yard Jamal Morrow run which preceded a 12-yard touchdown strike from Falk to Tavares Martin, Jr., where the receiver left his man in the dust on a simple slant route.
The Cougs would keep it going by forcing a Stanford punt on the next possession, followed by a 39-yard pass that saw Falk and Martin, Jr. connect again. After two holding penalties forced the Cougs into second-and-goal from the 27-yard line, Falk found redshirt freshman Renard Bell in the endzone to give the Cougs a 14-7 lead after the extra point that they would carry into the second half.
After WSU drove down and took a 10-point lead on a 41-yard Erik Powell field goal, Stanford took control with the help of a lucky break and a Falk mistake. The Cardinal would pull within 17-14 when Costello dropped the ball in the pocket, only to have it bounce straight up into his hands in time for a hole to open up for a 22-yard scoring scamper. Replay showed that the play could have been ruled an incomplete pass, but officials on the field and in the booth disagreed.
On the ensuing WSU drive, Falk was picked off on 4th and 1 by Stanford’s Bobby Okereke, who took it 52 yards to the house for a touchdown and a 21-17 Cardinal lead.
The Cougs bounced back two drives later with an 11-play, 94-yard drive that ended with Falk hitting the freshman Calvin on a crossing route with plenty of room to coast to the endzone for an 11-yard score. The drive was extended early by a 3rd-and-14 conversion, where Falk hit another freshman, Tay Martin for 17 yards.
The win gives WSU an unbeaten record at home for the first time since 2003, and its first ever 7-0 record in Martin Stadium. The Cougs finish the season with road trips to Utah and Washington.