Eastern Washington wideout Cooper Kupp was practically unstoppable on Saturday as the Eagels upset Washington State on opening night in Pullman by three points, 45-42.
Kupp caught 12 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns against the experiences Washington State secondary. The Cougar defense was unable to stop the senior wide receiver all night.
The Eagles scored a pair of touchdowns to open up the second half, and take the lead for good. Kupp was wide open in the front of the end zone for the second of those two scores; the closest defender was 15+ yards away. It was the seniors third touchdown catch of the game.
Eastern was marching towards another TD at the end of the game when Marcellus Pippins went up and snatched the ball out of the air. WSU drove the ball down the field on 14 plays, but was unable to punch it in as a couple of mistakes by the offensive line cost the Cougars 17 yards and forced them to go for the field goal, which was shanked to the left.
WSU’s new offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Luke Falk throughout the second half; and the junior often found himself scrambling outside of the pocket, leaving him little time to look down field. The lack of time in the pocket made it nearly impossible for Falk to find Gabe Marks, the majority of his 100 yards came in the first half (along with his two touchdowns).
Falk found running back Gerard Wicks for a 9 yard touchdown pass on a wheel route to cut EWU’s lead to three with 4:42 left in the fourth quarter.
But Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud put the game with a 30 yard scramble that extended their lead to 10 with 1:39 left on the clock.
Head coach Mike Leach is now 0-5 in opening games, and 20-30, in his time at Washington State. The loss marks the second straight season that opened with a loss to an FCS program, following last seasons debacle against PSU.
The 2015 Cougars ended up winning nine games, we’ll wait and see what happens in 2016.