Cougars blast Nevada, stay undefeated

The defense almost held on for its second shutout in four games

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

In its last non-conference competition, WSU football (4-0, 1-0) trounced the University of Nevada Wolf Pack (0-4) with a final tally of 45-7 Saturday afternoon.

Last week, the Cougar faithful saw their team boast its first 3-0 start to the season since 2005.

With another win under their belt, the Cougs reached a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2001 — a 4-0 record moving into week five.

WSU amplified their play on both sides of the ball from last week in preparation for their primetime matchup against No. 5 University of Southern California (USC), which is just six days away.

Cougar defense outclassed Nevada’s offense from the first blow of the whistle to the last. WSU held their opponent to 151 total yards; marking the second time they have been able to limit their opponent to less than 200 total yards this season.

Redshirt junior defensive line Hercules Mata’afa targeted the opposing quarterback early and often in the competition. He recorded 2.5 sacks in just the first five minutes of play.

“My job is to produce, but I just go out and play football,” Mata’afa said. “It’s fun for me to go out there and get all of those sacks, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the guy to the left of me and the guy to the right of me.”

The absence of redshirt senior linebacker Peyton Pelluer gave redshirt freshman linebacker Jahad Woods and redshirt senior linebacker Nate DeRider an opportunity to control the Mike position by committee.

Both Woods and Derider totaled four tackles, which tied them among others for the team lead Saturday.

Woods complimented redshirt senior linebacker Isaac Dotson for his managerial presence on the field.

“[Dotson’s] literally a coach on the field,” Woods said. “He helps me with everything, he helps the whole team with everything. He could call the plays if he could.”

Nevada’s quarterback woes proved beneficial to the Cougars’ defensive efforts.

The Wolf Pack’s starter, freshman quarterback Kaymen Cureton, only completed one of his five attempted passes, four of which resulted in sacks, before being relieved by junior quarterback David Cornwell.

Although the transfer from the University of Alabama moved the Nevada offense at a more efficient rate, Cornwell did turn the ball over three times via interceptions.

For the Cougars offense, it seemed to be just another day at the office.

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk has been disecting the opponents defense recently. In his last two performances, Falk has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 847 yards, while completing just over 76 percent of his passes.

Falk found himself yet another reliable target to add to his arsenal in redshirt freshman wide receiver Renard Bell. He racked up over 100 receiving yards for the second time in only four career games.

“[Bell] never gets in his own way, he is also like one of the most upbeat guys,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “Long story short, I need to hang out with Renard Bell all the time.”

The Cougars now turn their attention to a sold-out matchup against USC (4-0, 2-0). Trojan football visits Pullman for the first Friday matchup at Martin Stadium this season.