Sam Darnold struggles as USC upset by No. 16 Washington State, 30-27
PULLMAN, Wash. — Mike Leach and his team were engulfed in a sea of crimson on the turf of Martin Stadium, reveling in a rare occurrence for Washington State football.
An upset victory 25 years in the making was worth celebrating in grand fashion. And, it proved that these Cougars are true contenders for a Pac-12 title.
“It’s exciting. I’ll enjoy it tonight. I’ll probably enjoy it a little in the offseason,” Leach said.
Luke Falk threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns, Erik Powell kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:40 left and No. 16 Washington State beat No. 5 Southern California 30-27 on a wild Friday night.
With the national stage to themselves, the Cougars showed they were legitimate, stopping USC star quarterback Sam Darnold and pulling off their first regular-season win over a top-five opponent in a quarter-century. The last time a top five team was handed a loss by Washington State was 1992 when the Drew Bledsoe-led Cougars rolled rival Washington in a driving snowstorm.
Washington State (5-0, 2-0) had lost 15 consecutive home games against ranked opponents. This was its first win over the Trojans since 2002 — that game also finished in a 30-27 Cougars victory.
“We just showed that we were the better team tonight,” Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa said.
Falk was excellent against the pressure from Southern California (4-1, 2-1) most of the time, but it was a key 35-yard run from Jamal Morrow that set up Powell’s winning field goal.
Falk finished 34-of-51 passing, while Morrow added 91 yards rushing on six carries. The duo combined to give the Cougars the lead early in the fourth quarter, with Falk finding Morrow for a 23-yard TD on a shovel pass and run. The drive included a key third-and-6 conversion early in the possession and a fourth-and-3 on Falk’s pass to Kyle Sweet for 12 yards.
“I think it’s just a stepping stone. We expect to win games like this,” Falk said. “Hopefully from here on out going forward guys will continue the tradition of competing in games like these. Right now it’s a stepping stone.”