WSU dominates Arizona in the first half, leads 38-7
PULLMAN – Washington State entered halftime with a 38-7 lead and needed just 31 plays of offense to make it a two-score game.
And it took just one play to become apparent that things were not going Arizona’s way on Saturday. Brandon Dawkins threw a deep pass to Nate Phillips who caught the ball and ran 75 yards to the end zone.
But an ineligible player was downfield, and his only impact on the play was to draw a flag that negated the Wildcats’ early strike. It turned out to be UA’s only chance to score before it trailed by a steep margin.
The Wildcats could not even end that initial drive without incidence, as Josh Pollack’s short punt was returned by up man Jamal Morrow for 38 yards.
Though Morrow fumbled, the Cougars recovered at the UA 25-yard line, and the offense came away with a field goal.
The game may not be over, but Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez sure seemed to think so when he punted on fourth down trailing big with 6:35 to play in the second quarter.
Shalom Luani set the early tone for the Cougars, intercepting Brandon Dawkins’ pass on the second play of the ensuing drive and returning it 19 yards to eight-yard line. The Cougars needed one play to score: an eight-yard shovel pass from Luke Falk to James Williams.
Rodriguez yanked Dawkins from the game after the interception, but backup Anu Solomon faired little better. Solomon, who quarterbacked the Wildcats to a 59-37 victory that last time he was in Pullman, was switched back out for Dawkins in the middle of the second quarter with UA still scoreless. The two quarterbacks shared time the rest of the way.
Perhaps inspired by his teammate’s early success, Gerard Wicks took control on WSU’s next drive. The running back ripped off runs of 19 and 11 yards to set up the WSU offense on the one-yard line, then finished the job by plunging into the end zone on his third consecutive carry.
Falk threw for touchdowns on the next two drives, short passes to Gabe Marks and Tavares Martin of two and seven yards, respectively.
The Cougars scored on each of their first seven drives in Saturday’s game. The Wildcats finally scored on their seventh drive, which needed just two plays as Solomon threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Cam Denson following a 28-yard run by Dawkins.