With family watching for first time, Frankie Luvu had game of his life

PULLMAN – Frankie Luvu’s family traveled 5,348 miles from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Pullman this week so they could be at Martin Stadium to congratulate him on Senior Day.

It was the first time in Luvu’s four years that his family has been able to come watch him play college football, and with his father, Veresa, his mother Ia, and two of his eight siblings in the stands, Luvu played with just a little extra motivation.

He ended up making the biggest defensive play of the afternoon: Intercepting Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello with 15 seconds left to seal a 24-21 win for 25th-ranked WSU.

“It’s just the little details that coach (Roy) Manning has been talking about – reading the quarterback’s eyes,” Luvu said of his first career interception. “Eventually, I got one.”

This trip was a big deal for the Luvus. The family came out to Senior Day dressed in customized WSU sweatshirts decorated with Samoan-style art, and the name “Luvu” on the back. They also brought Frankie a laumaile – a traditional Samoan lei-type necklace made of leaves – that he wore proudly in the post-game news conference.

This trip marked Veresa Luvu’s first flight from American Samoa to the mainland, and his presence meant a lot to Frankie. Veresa Luvu works at a tuna cannery, and it’s difficult for him to take enough time off to make the long trip to Pullman.

“It’s emotional for me because he’s always trying to work,” said Frankie Luvu. “So I’m excited my brothers got him to come up. He looks excited today.”

Luvu had three tackles, including half a TFL in the win.

WSU’s other senior Samoan starter, nose tackle Daniel Ekuale, also had a big game. Ekuale recorded his first sack of the year, and the third of his career. He finished with three tackles including 1.5 for loss.

Ekuale had his uncle and cousin with him on Senior Day, but said his parents didn’t make the trip from Samoa because his aunt recently died after a fight with cancer.

“We’re not satisfied yet. We’ve got two more games to go,” Ekuale said. “But to come out here in our last home game in front of our fans and get our job done is good enough for us. But we’ve gotta get back to work tomorrow.”

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