Washington State won another football game Saturday night but might have suffered a loss much more valuable — starting quarterback Luke Falk.
Falk left the game strapped on a backboard with an apparent head injury in the 24th-ranked Cougars’ 27-3 victory over Colorado on Saturday night at Martin Stadium.
The sophomore from Logan, Utah was knocked to the turf hard on a sack by Colorado’s Samson Kafovalu with 6 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
As Falk hit the turf, his head violently snapped back. He laid motionless on his back near midfield for several minutes.
Finally, as he was transported out of the stadium, Falk gave the crowd a soft fist-pump, then a thumbs-up sign.
After the game, coach Mike Leach declined to give any updates on Falk’s status for the Apple Cup or his injury. He was asked three times about Falk and said “Next question” each time and threatened to end the news conference if he was asked again.
Peyton Bender came on for Falk — who finished 27 of 35 for 199 yards and a touchdown — and led a decisive scoring drive early in the fourth quarter.
Bender completed a 16-yard touchdown to Gabe Marks in the right corner of the end zone to give the Cougars a 24-3 lead with 14:25 to go.
Marks now has the school’s single-season receiving touchdown mark of 14. He previously shared it with Jason Hill (13 touchdowns in 2005). Marks also became the 12th WSU receiver to post a 1,000-yard receiving season Saturday.
WSU is now 8-3. The last time the Cougars won at least eight games was in 2003 when they went 10-3, and won the Holiday Bowl in former coach Bill Doba’s first season.
And they still have a chance to become the fifth WSU squad to post a 10-win season, if they can beat Washington in the Apple Cup on Friday, and win their bowl game.
Falk had a near-perfect first half — 21 of 23 for 156 yards and a touchdown — to stake the Cougars to a 14-0 lead.
And early in the second quarter, Falk completed all nine of his passes in guiding WSU on a 10-play, 96-yard scoring drive.
It ended with Falk’s 11-yard touchdown strike to Dom Williams to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead with 10:14 remaining in the first half.
It was WSU’s second-longest scoring drive of the season behind a 99-yard scoring series against Arizona State. The Cougars now have four touchdown drives of 90 or more yards this season.
Charleston White’s interception of Colorado quarterback Cade Apsay on the Buffaloes first second-half series set up Erik Powell’s 31-yard field goal to give WSU a 17-0 lead at the 10:47 mark of the third quarter.
Apsay started in place of injured former Bellarmine Prep standout Sefo Liufau (fractured left foot), who is out for the season.
The announced crowd was 25,121. WSU students were out Friday for the Thanksgiving week holiday. … Before the game, 16 outgoing seniors were honored before playing their final home game. All of them jogged into the stadium carrying a Cougars flag. … The Cougars also brought back a fad from the past — jersey numbers on the side of helmets — for the home-closing game. The last time they did that was in 1963. … Coach Mike Leach has now won at least eight games in a season for a ninth time. The last time was in 2009, his last season at Texas Tech. ... Gerard Wicks rushed for 123 yards, marking the first time since the 2010 season WSU had a rusher cross the century mark.