PULLMAN, Wash. — The mind of Marcellus Pippins of Washington State was racing as he saw the loose football on the turf at Martin Stadium.
He bent down and scooped the ball up, and one thought ran through his brain.
“Run fast, don’t get caught,” Pippins said.
He gave no thought to diving on the football.
“It was me and the touchdown,” said Pippins, who ran 72 yards for the score that helped ignite Washington State’s 56-6 win over Idaho on Saturday.
Luke Falk threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns as Washington State posted a positive end to a tumultuous week.
James Williams rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown for Washington State (1-2), which won on a wet, windy day when the Air Raid offense was not working very well.
Idaho (1-2) struggled for the second straight week against a Pac-12 team, after losing at No. 8 Washington.
The Vandals have not scored a touchdown against Washington State the past two times the teams have played.
Austin Rehkow kicked a 42-yard field goal as Idaho took a 3-0 lead on its first possession.
Williams ran over from the 2 for a 7-3 lead for the Cougars. The touchdown was set up by a 50-yard completion from Falk to Kyle Sweet.
Nose tackle Robert Barber blocked a 32-yard field-goal attempt by Rehkow and Pippins scooped up the ball and ran 72 yards for a touchdown as Washington State took a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Once special teams made a play it was like a chain reaction,” WSU running back Gerard Wicks said.
Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan fumbled on a bootleg, and Robert Taylor recovered for Washington State on Idaho’s 36. Falk threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Marks as Washington State built a 21-3 lead late in the second quarter.
Idaho drove all the way to the WSU 1 midway through the third quarter, but had to settle for Rehkow’s 18-yard field goal that cut the Cougars’ lead to 21-6.
Washington State replied with a 90-yard drive that ended on Wicks’ 2-yard scoring run for a 28-6 lead.
Falk threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Robert Lewis early in the fourth for a 35-6 lead, and the Cougars added three more touchdowns in the fourth.
“We played hard the whole game,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said. “Defense played better than offense.”
“The sloppiness with regards to penalties is alarming,” Leach said of the 11 penalties against the Cougars.
Leach said his players seemed to respond well to a week of hard practices and harsh criticism.
“We seem to have a group that has a tendency to go soft,” Leach said. “We’ve got to be on them all the time.”
Idaho coach Paul Petrino did not appear in the postgame interview room.
Washington State was expected to contend for the Pac-12 North, but opened the season with losses to FCS foe Eastern Washington and Boise State. That prompted Leach this week to rip his Cougars as soft. Leach also complained that Pullman police seemed to be targeting his players, after four were recently arrested in three different incidents, which the police chief has denied.
IDAHO: The Vandals, who have designs on qualifying for a bowl game this season, were coming off a 59-14 loss at Washington. The Vandals and Cougars are located in towns just 8 miles apart and this was the 92nd meeting between the two closest neighbors in the FBS.
WASHINGTON STATE: Idaho has often been a cure for what ailed the Cougars. Washington State leads the series 72-17-3.
Leach’s Air Raid pass attack got a bit of a rest, as the Cougars piled up 228 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. “The coaches believed in us,” Wicks said.
IDAHO: Plays at UNLV on Saturday.
WASHINGTON STATE: Has a bye this week, and hosts No. 22 Oregon on Oct. 1.