Football 7-0 at home for first time in program

A fourth quarter comeback helped WSU win in Dad’s Weekend, senior game against Stanford

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

No. 25 WSU (8-2, 5-2) sealed an undefeated record at Martin Stadium this season as the Cougars pulled out a 24-21 win against No. 18 Stanford University (6-3, 5-2) on Saturday.

“Everybody had a great deal of respect for Stanford,” WSU Head Coach Mike Leach said. “This is a big win any way you slice it. It’s always huge to win at home and it’s always huge to kind of create that tradition … which we are starting to get a little more consistent at.”

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk broke a conference record in his final home game. He is now the Pac-12’s leader in total passing yards.

Cougar football held a 14-7 lead over the Cardinal heading into the locker room at halftime, but it was cut and overtaken in the third quarter.

A fourth down conversion attempt went unplanned as Falk’s pass was intercepted and returned 52 yards for a touchdown by Stanford senior linebacker Bobby Okereke. The lead and momentum suddenly shifted toward the Cardinal.

Stanford had yet to lose in over forty straight games in which the team was leading going into the final quarter. WSU was down 21-17 at this point.

Falk, who has six fourth quarter comebacks to his name, made it seven on senior day.

With seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, he found freshman wide receiver Jamire Calvin. The receiver topped off his 11-yard touchdown by somersaulting on a pylon.

“I just like to have fun when I catch the ball,” Calvin said.

Stanford took the field with less than a minute to go, but the team was backed up on their own 14-yard line. Cougar defenders did not let the Cardinal gain an inch. Senior linebacker Frankie Luvu finished the drive by intercepting the ball. Luvu’s family from American Samoa was in attendance for his final game and deciding play.

“When the offense was in, I was telling myself, ‘I want the play to come to me,’ ” Luvu said. “But it was all a team effort, so shout out to my whole team.”

Stanford junior running back Bryce Love, the nation’s leading rusher, returned from his ankle injury to compete in the falling snow at Martin Stadium.

Despite a 52-yard touchdown run, WSU held the Heisman candidate to under 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. Take away his largest gain on the day, and Love averaged just over one yard per carry.

“The thing is, you know, we played the run game well last year [against Stanford], too,” Leach said.

Cougar defense broke former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s 19-game streak of at least 100 rushing yards last year in California.

Twenty seniors played their final home game as a Cougar in front of a sold out crowd at Martin Stadium. Before kickoff, each player was recognized individually while running out onto the field to be greeted by family.

The ceremony was closed with Falk running through a tunnel wielding an Ol’ Crimson flag. He received one final curtain call from the Cougar faithful.

“A lot of emotions came together when it was all said and done, didn’t really think about it during the game,” Falk said. “It got pretty emotional [after the game], heck, I might get emotional now.”

Every senior was listed as a starter or second string on the Cougar depth chart. In four years at WSU, the senior class collected 27 total wins with two bowl game appearances — and they have at least two more games to increase that number.