Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images – Seattle Times
For the first time since 2011, the Cougars won their opening week game when they beat the Montana State Bobcats 31-0 in front of 30,000+ fans at Martin Stadium. The victory also put an end to Washington State’s two game losing streak against FCS programs.
In their first drive, of the fourth quarter, the Cougar offense would march right down the field on seven plays to score their fourth touchdown of the game. Falk hit James “Boobie” Williams with another shovel pass, this one went 24 yards and to the house to give Washington State a 28-0 lead over MSU. This was the drive were WSU was really able to assert its ground game over an overmatched opponent as 24, of the 63 yards, came on the ground.
Erik Powell would add a 40-yard field goal to close out the scoring with a little over seven minutes left in the game.
Alex Grinch’s “Speed D” was adequately able to handle Bobcats’ quarterback Chris Murray, because he was one-dimensional. The sophomore from Inglewood, Calif. was struggled the few times he threw the ball — including a drastically under thrown ball that sophomore safety Jalen Thompson intercepted at the end of the third quarter — which allowed the defense to key in on the run. The Bobcats inability to throw the ball down field, and the athleticism gap, allowed the defensive front seven to fill the gaps and smother MSU’s offense.
As the Cougars built up their lead throughout the game, the defensive front seven became even more aggressive. The d-line constantly pushed Montana State’s offensive line into the back field, which threw off the Bobcats’ timing; as a result, Jeff Choate’s squad consistently found itself in third and long situations.
Falk broke the Washington State record for career touchdowns with a six-yard pass to Martin Jr. to give the Cougs a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter; it was his 91st career touchdown pass. It was the Cougars most efficient drive of the first half and it was the last time the offense would look competent until their second drive of the third quarter.
The Bobcats took away the deep pass throughout the majority of the game so Falk was constantly checking down to his running backs, and Williams was the redshirt senior’s favorite target. Bobbie was the first Cougar to cross the end zone in 2017 on a shovel pass that he took 11-yards to the house; the score capped off an eight play, 73-yard drive that was quintessential Air Raid. Despite being a running back, Williams caught three passes on the first drive…including the touchdown.
Williams would finish the game with 13 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns; the redshirt sophomore also carried the ball nine times for 45 yards. Jamal Morrow was the team’s leading rusher as he carried the ball 10 times for 89 yards and one touchdown of his own.
As for Luke Falk, he finished the game completing 33 of 39 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions; at one point the senior had completed 20 of 20 passes and his first incompletion came early in the third quarter. The redshirt senior from Logan, Utah didn’t put up video game-like numbers in against Montana State, but he didn’t have too; he took what the defense gave him and kept the offense moving, which helped the Cougars pick up their first opening day win of the Mike Leach era.
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