Luke Falk rescues Cougs in thrilling win at Rutgers
Washington State fans have grown accustomed to losing games in frustrating ways over the years, but Luke Falk’s stirring fourth-quarter comeback on Saturday led the Cougs to a 37-34 win at Rutgers and the Pullman faithful reason to believe 2015 will be different.
The Cougars looked to have the game in hand in Piscataway, New Jersey, building a 20-6 lead on the road. However, two returns for touchdowns by Janarion Grant – one kickoff, one punt – put the Scarlet Knights ahead late in the fourth quarter.
Sound familiar? Last year, Washington State appeared to be in great shape to win its season opener over Rutgers in Seattle, leading 38-34 and preparing to get the ball back midway through the fourth quarter. However, it was a special teams gaffe (fumbled punt) that gave Rutgers new life en route to the Scarlet Knights’ 41-38 win.
Falk wasn’t about to let history repeat itself. With his team trailing 27-23 in the fourth quarter, Falk led the Cougs on an eight-play, 82-yard drive to reclaim the lead after throwing a 23-yard dime to Gabe Marks at the pylon.
Falk and the Cougs weren’t out of the woods yet as Grant’s 55-yard punt return for a touchdown gave Rutgers a 34-30 lead with 1:31 left.
WSU fans could be excused for thinking: We’ve seen this before.
Once again, Falk didn’t buckle under the pressure. Facing a fourth down in the final minute, Cool Hand Luke calmly completed a pass to Robert Lewis to keep the Cougs alive. It looked like Falk hooked up with Keith Harrington for the winning score on a 30-yard screen pass, but Harrington was ruled to have stepped out at the 21-yard line upon further review.
No problem: Falk scrambled 13 yards for the first down on the next play. Finally, Falk lofted a beauty to River Cracraft in the back of the end zone on the ensuing snap to give the Cougs the lead for good with 13 seconds left.
Falk finished the game completing 47 of 66 passes for 478 yards and four touchdowns with no picks; a huge performance in a game the Cougs absolutely needed to have.