Photo Credit: Young Kwak/AP – The Edwardsville Intelligencer
No. 18 Washington State’s (4-0) offense remained in its groove against the Nevada Wolf Pack (0-4) on Saturday as the Cougs raced off to a 35-0 halftime lead, and the offense maintained its pace for a 45-7 victory.
Throughout the first half, Luke Falk took shots downfield to his outside receivers; which helped the offense move down field and score quickly. Falk would start off the second half when he found wide receiver Renard Bell in-step about 20-yards past the line of scrimmage, Bell would pick up another ten-yards before he was chased down by Nevada’s safety. After that, WSU’s offense went back into its shell as the offensive line struggled to protect its quarterback throughout the third quarter.
WSU’s biggest play during the second half came when the pocket collapsed and Falk was forced to make something happen. His final touchdown pass of the game came when Nevada brought five guys on the blitz, which collapsed the pocket around Falk, as he scrambled he found Tavares Martin Jr. near the sideline and past the sticks; Martin would end up scoring the touchdown when he stretched the ball past the pylon as he was hit out of bounds by a couple of defenders.
Back-up Tyler Hilinski came in midway through the final quarter and fumbled the ball (and recovered it) on his first play, then he tossed an interception on the next play. Jalen Thompson would bail his [backup] quarterback out with an interception in the end zone of Nevada quarterback David Cornwell when targeted the his wideout on the corner route in the back of the end zone, it was Thompson’s second pick of the night.
The defensive line has played surprisingly well during the Cougars first four games and this blowout victory over Nevada was a prime example of that. The defensive line was consistently plugging the gaps and giving their linebackers access into the backfield. Hercules Mata’afa abused both quarterbacks that the Wolf Pack threw out there as he wracked up 2.5 sacks on Nevada’s first drive — those would be the only sacks of the game Mata’afa would record.
Despite the fact that the second string defense surrendered a touchdown to ruin the shutout, the Alex Grinch’s unit impressed in a dominating win as they forced three interceptions to give their offense a chance to extend the lead.
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