Washington State wide receiver Dom Williams played the last two games while coping with the intense feelings of solitude and sorry that accompany a close, personal loss.
But Williams’ exploits on the football field against Oregon and Oregon State have been an honor and homage to his grandmother, Jennie Dodd, who died on Oct. 4.
Against Oregon, Williams kept WSU’s hopes alive with a touchdown catch in the last second of the fourth quarter to force overtime in the eventual WSU victory. In Saturday’s 52-31 victory over the Beavers, Williams had the best game of his career.
Williams set career highs with 11 receptions for 158 yards and caught two touchdown passes from Luke Falk.
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“I knew he was going to come out and play hard, because that’s what she would have wanted for him and he understands that,” receiver Gabe Marks said. “I knew that once he got on the field he would be fine. When he came back to practice he was on fire.”
The redshirt senior has 25 touchdown receptions in his college career, the second most in school history. Jason Hill is the school’s all-time leader with 32.
WSU basketball holds Fieldhouse practice
Before the touchdowns, interceptions, kickoffs and slobber knockers, there were dunks and 3-pointers on Saturday. The WSU men’s basketball team held a 30-minute practice in Hollingberry Fieldhouse prior to the football game to introduce to fans the 2015-16 squad, which features seven newcomers.
While the team warmed up with defensive drills, head coach Ernie Kent praised their offseason work, particularly in the classroom where the Cougars emerged from the summer with a 3.2 grade-point average.
“Every player will graduate from Washington State, I promise you that,” Kent said to cheers from the audience.
The drills gave way to shooting and dunking exhibitions. After the practice, Kent and the players signed autographs.
“This is what coach Kent does: He comes out and gets people excited,” senior forward Junior Longrus said. “To have a basketball court in the Fieldhouse on a football game day is something most people couldn’t imagine. For him to see the value in that and get that done is going to be huge for us.”
Leach gets win No. 100
The win over Oregon State was Mike Leach’s 100th victory, which he accomplished halfway through his 13th season as a head coach. The Cougars coach has a career record of 100-69, with 84 of the wins coming as the head coach at Texas Tech.
On a certain level, Leach dreads celebrating such milestones.
“It’s not everything it’s cracked up to be, because they’ll dump water on you and you’ll have to change your shirt. That water’s colder than you think,” Leach said.
Even though Jamal Morrow led the Cougars in rushing last season and finished fourth on the team in total receptions, the sophomore running back entered Saturday’s game having never scored a touchdown. He got to the end zone twice against the Beavers, scoring on receptions of 8 and 22 yards. … Luke Falk tied the school record with six touchdown passes, all in the first half. … Marks caught six passes, giving him 172 in his career. That’s No. 5 all time at WSU. … Shalom Luani’s 11 tackles tied a career high and he recorded his second and third career interceptions. … Falk has thrown 34 touchdown passes, eighth most in WSU history.
It was a tale of two halves in Washington State’s 52-31 win over Oregon State on Saturday:
What went right
The Cougars could do nothing wrong offensively in the first half.
It took Luke Falk less than two quarters to tie the school record for passing touchdowns in a game and Washington State only had one drive in the first half that didn’t end in a touchdown, and the Cougars still scored a field goal.
The Cougars averaged 8.9 yards per play offensively in the first two quarters and the Beavers never came close to stopping them.
What went wrong
The Cougars could do nothing right offensively in the second half.
Falk and the WSU offense were shut out in the second half against an OSU defense that had given up 89 points over the previous six quarters.
Washington State averaged 4.2 yards per play.
While Falk couldn’t lead the offense to points in the second half, his play in the first half was so good that he didn’t need to for the Cougars to emerge with a double-digit win.
Falk spread the ball to 11 different receivers, completing passes of 12 or more yards to six separate players.
Furthermore, Falk took only two sacks despite multiple different pressures from the OSU defense, a big improvement after taking 14 over the previous two weeks.
It was over when
Falk threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dom Williams with 17 seconds remaining in the first half to cap a 10-play, 72-yard drive that took 3:59 off the clock.
The touchdown gave the Cougars a 28-point halftime lead, a deficit the Beavers’ offense was never going to be able to overcome