SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington State quarterback Luke Falk did a pretty fair Connor Halliday imitation in his first career start.
Falk threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns without an interception as the Cougars beat Oregon State 39-32 on Saturday, earning the former walk-on Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors and providing a bright spot for Washington State.
This after throwing for 370 yards and two touchdowns two weeks ago against Southern California after taking over for Halliday, whose college career ended with a broken ankle suffered in that loss.
Falk saw Halliday writhe on the ground after a Southern Cal player fell on his leg.
“I was just praying for him, hoping he was all right,” Falk recalled Tuesday. “He’s been a great friend to me and a mentor. When I saw he wasn’t going to get up, I saw that I had a job to do and I went out and did it.”
The redshirt freshman’s polished performances have been a revelation.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Falk said. “I’ve gotten a few more text messages than normal.”
Washington State (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) has a bye next weekend and then two games left, against No. 7 Arizona State and the season finale against archrival Washington.
“It’s been a real fun experience,” Falk said. “I want to keep it up against ASU next week.”
Falk grew up in Logan, Utah, and received a scholarship offer from Florida State after his sophomore year in high school. His family then moved to California so he could play for prep football power Oaks Christian as a junior. But the move didn’t work out and Falk did not get to play. The family moved back to Logan for his senior year, when he threw for 3,600 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Most quarterbacks are recruited after their junior years, and Falk only had scholarship offers from Idaho, Wyoming and Cornell as a senior. He committed to Cornell, but then came the offer to walk-on at Washington State.
Falk was intrigued. He was already familiar with coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense from Leach’s years at Texas Tech.
“I talked to coach Leach a few times and I was sold,” Falk said.
He was promised a fair chance to compete for playing time, and a scholarship if he moved up the depth chart.
His performance in practice were so impressive that two players above him on the depth chart decided to transfer, and Falk opened the season as Halliday’s backup.
He got little playing time until Halliday went down in the first quarter against Southern Cal.
Falk’s performance has given the under-achieving Cougars some confidence heading into the final two games.
“We are a good football team when we are playing all together,” Falk said. “We’re a pretty powerful team.”
Halliday will graduate after this season, leaving Falk as the presumptive starter next season.
“I’m not thinking about next year,” Falk said. “We are still in this season.”
“I want to win these two games for our seniors,” he said.
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