A sluggish first half had Huskies fans worried. Would the football team lose their second consecutive Apple Cup to Washington State?
Keith Price led his team to 24 points in the second half to lead his Huskies to a 27-17 victory over Mike Leach's Cougars
The first half started with the ball in Washington's hands, and Price used a 34-yard completion to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins to drive 54 yards for a 48-yard field goal by the leg of Travis Coons. That would be the only point that Washington scored throughout the entire first half. A swarming Washington State defense combined with a pair of turnovers by Keith Price kept the Washington offense in check.
Backup Cyler Miles was warming up on the sidelines, so the health of Price may have been in question.
The defense for the Huskies was good in the first half, limiting Mike Leach's Air Raid offense to ten points, but the lack of a turnover was the biggest, and arguably only, difference of the half. The Cougars showed sideline-to-sideline speed in limiting the horizontal field-stretching WR screens for the Dawgs. Kevin Smith had three catches for 18 yards on the screen plays. John Ross III and Jaydon Mickens were both held without touches. 10-3 Washington State.
The second half opened with Washington State's drive stalling after two first downs. Cougar drives stalling became a pattern for the quarter. Washington and Bishop Sankey took over. The UW offensive starters continued their season-long streak of scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the second half. Backups haven't fared as well, but that doesn't matter as much. If the starting offense is on the field to start the second half, they score touchdowns.
This drive happened as a result of a 40-yard screen to Bishop Sankey and a "Go up and get it" touchdown pass to ASJ. Tie ballgame.
Another Cougar drive stalled, and six Bishop Sankey rushes later, he had broken Napoleon Kaufman's career rushing touchdown record for Washington with 35. His record-breaking run put Washington up 17-10 after Coons kicked the PAT.
Washington's next drive (after a stalled WSU drive) ended after 45 yards on the first incomplete pass of the second half for Keith Price and Coons kicked a field goal to make it a two-score game 20-10. That was the last score of a 17-0 third quarter for Washington.
After some questionable reviews on potential completions for Washington, they were forced to punt. Washington State methodically tossed the ball down the field on their next possession, as Connor Halliday topped 50 pass attempts on the day. On his 55th he dropped a fade to Dom Williams over the head of Marcus Peters for a 5-yard touchdown to bring WSU within a field goal.
After UW wasn't able to get anything going on their next drive, the Cougars started to drive down the field. After a very questionable (read: didn't actually happen) pass interference call on Peters, Halliday remembered he was Halliday and threw an interception to Greg Ducre.
All 37 yards of the ensuing touchdown drive for UW came on the ground, 11 by Price and the rest by the best running back in the country.
A John Timu interception (after he was nearly kicked out for targeting) sealed it.
Keith Price took three knees, and a mostly-full Gatorade tub was dumped on the shoulders of Steve Sarkisian to finish the Apple Cup.
Instant Reactions Dots
- After the first half, I was about ready to stick a fork in Sark. If he lost the Apple Cup, that would have been the nail in the coffin. Now, he has earned another year, pending the bowl game.
- Travis Feeney's speed made more than just a small impact on the game. The Air Raid offense utilizes a lot of short passes. His speed to get out on the edge and make plays was a big part of why UW was able to come out with the win, in addition to his special teams coverage.
- Bishop Sankey could be the best running back Washington has ever had.
- Price was under fire for most of the afternoon, but still finished with a good-looking statline: 15-20 for 181 yards with a TD and a pick. his read-option touchdown was the true backbreaker. His mobility to get a few yards on broken plays were big in keeping the offense going on drives.
- Sark is not Seven-Win-Steve any more.