Washington State and quarterback Luke Falk could do no wrong in the first half Saturday against Oregon State, and as a result the Cougars won their first Pac-12 home game in two years.
The second half was another matter, as Washington State’s high-flying offense was shut down.
But it was too little too late for Oregon State, which lost 52-31.
“My job was easy today,” Falk said. “Get the ball to (receivers) and let them do the work.”
Falk tied a team record with six touchdown passes, but all came in the first half. The offense did not score in the second half.
“We let our foot off the gas in the second half,” said Falk, who completed 39 of 50 passes for 407 yards, and was intercepted twice. “We need to make corrections and have a complete game.”
Washington State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12), coming off an upset victory at Oregon, hadn’t beaten a Pac-12 opponent in Martin Stadium since November 2013.
They have already eclipsed the three wins they had all of last season, and this was the 100th win of coach Mike Leach’s career. Leach was doused with water by his team after the game.
“They dump water all over you and you have to change your shirt,” Leach said, when asked how he felt about reaching 100 wins.
The Cougars scored on all seven of their first-half possessions and piled up 520 yards of offense.
Quarterback Seth Collins threw for 176 yards and ran for 124 yards for Oregon State (2-4, 0-3), which gave up more than 40 points for the third consecutive week. The Beavers rushed for 218 yards in the game.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Oregon State coach Gary Andersen. “We couldn’t stop them in the first half.”
Andersen’s sons grew up playing football with Falk in Logan, Utah, and Andersen was impressed by his play.
“He was on fire,” Andersen said. “We helped him at times, but he was on fire.”
Falk, who threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns at Oregon, came into the game leading the Pac-12 in passing at 396 yards per game, and has thrown 21 touchdown passes with just four picks this season.
Dom Williams caught 11 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns for WSU.
Oregon State, produced 394 yards of total offense, but couldn’t slow the Cougars in the first half.
Washington State’s Tavares Martin Jr. returned the opening kickoff 51 yards and the Cougars marched down the field, with Falk throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to River Cracraft.
Oregon State went three-and-out, and Washington State replied with a 69-yard drive that ended with Falk’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Williams.
Garrett Owens kicked a 50-yard field goal to put Oregon State on the scoreboard near the end of the first quarter.
Gabe Marks caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Falk in the opening seconds of the second quarter for a 21-3 lead.
Oregon State tried a fake punt from its own 20, but punter Nick Porebski was dropped for a 6-yard loss. After a touchdown pass to Marks was called back for offensive interference, the Cougars had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Erik Powell and a 24-3 lead.
Oregon State’s Victor Bolden returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards down the right sideline to cut the WSU lead to 24-10.
The Beavers then tried an onside kick, but the Cougars recovered on the 50. After a 28-yard reception by Williams, Falk’s fourth touchdown pass was for eight yards to Jamal Morrow.
After an OSU punt, Washington State drove 69 yards, with Falk throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Morrow for a 38-10 lead.
Oregon State’s Collins led an 80-yard drive that ended with his 12-yard touchdown run.
But WSU replied with Falk’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Williams in the closing seconds of the half, for a 45-17 halftime lead.
Falk’s six touchdown passes in the first half tied the school record for most touchdown passes in a full game, set by Connor Halliday last year. The Cougars had 399 yards of offense in the first half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter.
Collins threw a short touchdown pass to Jordan Villamin late in the fourth, to close within 45-25. The Beavers then recovered the on-side kick with 5:44 left in the game. But Collins was intercepted by Shalom Luani, who returned the ball 84 yards for a touchdown. Luani had a second interception to end Oregon State’s next possession.
The Beavers came in with the Pac-12’s top-ranked pass defense, allowing an average of 177 yards a game.
Leach has a career record of 100-70 at Texas Tech and with the Cougars. This is the 100th game in the series, which Washington State leads 50-47-3.
SATURDAY: Washington State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (5-2, 2-2), 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network, 710-AM