Mitch Weholt /

WSU stages comeback for fifth Pac-12 win

CORVALLIS - Washington State (6-2, 5-0 Pac-12) finally got their offense unleashed in the second half against Oregon State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12) to stay atop the Pac-12 North and become bowl eligible with their sixth win of the year.

Things got off to a rocky start in the second half. Not only did the offense go three-and-out, the fake punt by Kyle Sweet failed when he couldn't beat the only defender between him and huge run.

As quickly as momentum was on the Oregon State side of the field the Cougar defense ran onto the field and took it right back. They forced a punt by the Beavs to put Luke Falk and company back in business. And they went about their business much like they have over the course of the last five games. Wazzu needed just three plays to go 80-yards for a touchdown by Jamal Morrow hauling in a beautifully lofted ball by Falk. Sweet exacted a measure of redemption by taking a short pass into the end zone for a two-point conversion. WSU was back in the game trail by ten, 24-14, just four minutes into the second half.

The WSU D got the ball right back to their offense and Falk showed complete confidence in Gabe Marks, launching a bomb to complete a schoolyard "you do deep" pass. Confidence and momentum proved to be just what was needed to close the gap to OSU 24 - WSU 21 at the 6:57 mark of the third quarter and plenty of football remaining.

Literally moments later, Falk lofted a high arching throw that connected with Marks for yet another touchdown pass. This one covered the final 28-yards of a 73-yard drive.

With 3:34 left in the third, Washington State earned their first lead of the night 28-24 thanks to 22 unanswered points.

As the third quarter ended, the only question remaining to be answered would be whether or not could finish the job.

Wazzu's defense continued their aggressive, efficient and effective playing going into the final quarter. They forced yet another punt by the Beavers, their fourth in a row, which turned out to be a potential disaster for the Cougs. Kaleb Fossum muffed the OSU punt setting up a 3-yard run up the gut for a touchdown and regain the lead. OSU 31 - WSU 28

Mike Leach and his staff preach to their team about responding to adversity in a positive way. At this point in the game, WSU would have their mettle tested.

Washington State's answer was exactly what's needed to continue their winning ways. They regained the lead and momentum with a seven play 80-yard drive culminated with a crisp one yard toss from Falk to Robert Lewis.

With Oregon State seeing precious time running off the clock, they attempted a fake punt. Their result was identical to WSU's try at the same thing. It didn't work. Actually, it didn't work, precisely sums up the offensive effort by the Beavers in the second half.

Typical of Leach, he opted to go for it on fourth and two from the WSU 43 with just over six minutes left. Falk's throw to River Cracraft breaking open over the middle sailed high incomplete breathing life into Oregon State.

The Cougar defense controlled the line of scrimmage on two consecutive plays on the Beavers attempt at a winning drive, denying a measly yard on both third and fourth down to turn the ball back to their offense. 

OSU frustration culminated when Bright Ugwoegbu targeted Falk as he was sliding to the turf. The helmet-to-helmet attack did little more than earn Ugwoegbu an early shower as he was tossed from the game. Falk? He took off his knee brace and remained in the game like the warrior he is.

Falk simply handed the ball off to his stable of outstanding running backs to run out the clock and win the day.

FINAL: WSU 35 - OSU 31

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