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The Huskies fought back, but couldn't overcome their slow start against Stanford

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Washington gave Stanford all that they could handle but in the end, the 21 point deficit proved to be just a bit too steep.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon against the Stanford Cardinal, the Washington Huskies put forth a valiant second-half effort but ended up suffering their first loss of the 2020-21 season along with the first loss of Head Coach Jimmy Lake’s coaching career.

While last weekend’s comeback win against Utah was thrilling, it was also stressful. Washington had put themselves in a position where if they made a mistake in the second half, the game could be over in the blink of an eye. The overall mood after the game throughout Husky nation was, “this is great, but let’s not do it again.” On Saturday afternoon they again tried to overcome a 21 point halftime deficit but in the end, the Dawgs ran out of time.

Stanford, like the Utes, was utterly dominant in the opening half. They quickly jumped out to a 24-3 lead going into the half and each scoring drive was similar to the others. On their first score, they drove the ball 65 yards on 11 plays and took 5:07 off the clock. Their second touchdown came at the end of a 9 play, 80-yard drive that lasted 4:34, their third went 64 yards in 9 plays and lasted 4:59. The final scoring drive ended with a field goal after Stanford picked up 61 yards on 14 plays in 3:09.

UW’s lone scoring drive in the first half was capped off by junior kicker Peyton Henry, after lasting 13 plays and picking up 71 yards in 5:06.

Despite the defense getting hammered and a looming deficit awaiting them when they came back out for the second half, there was still a reason to believe that the Dawgs could mount a comeback. I mean, after all, we all seen what happened last weekend against Utah.

Washington got the ball to begin the second half and quickly, those hopes of a comeback began to grow. On their opening drive of the half, the Dawgs picked up 75 yards on just 7 plays while only taking 2:40 off the clock. The score came from senior running back Sean McGrew who scampered to the right side of the field and crossed the goal line to cut the lead down to 24-10.

The potential wave of momentum was swiftly broken up by the Cardinal who responded with a touchdown of their own. The score then was 31-10 after they drove 69 yards in 7 plays. This score came with 9:01 left in the third quarter and up to that point, UW had yet to stop Stanford from picking up punts.

However, the Dawgs’ refused to quit. With the game beginning to lean heavily in Stanford’s favor, redshirt freshmen quarterback Dylan Morris and the offense drove 75 yards in 12 plays and added another score when Morris punched in a score from 1 yard out. The Stanford lead was now 31-16 after a blocking extra point.

On the following drive, the Huskies forced the Cardinal to punt for the first time all afternoon and again UW found themselves in the end zone. The drive was 9 plays for 92 yards and took 4:11 off the clock. The biggest play of the drive was a 42-yard completion from Morris to junior tight end Cade Otton. The drive was finished off by McGrew who punched in a score from 2 yards out. At this point, the Huskies trailed 31-23 and the tides were beginning to turn.

On the next Cardinal drive, sophomore cornerback Trent McDuffie punched the football loose which was scooped up by sophomore linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio and returned to Stanford’s 10-yard line. The offense’s response to the big play by their defense was... not ideal. They lost 17 yards throughout 4 plays but were still able to add a field goal on the board. Stanford’s lead was 31-26 with 7:54 left.

The Cardinal offense took the field and stayed on it until the clock hit triple zeros. They ran 14 plays and picked up 79 yards while using every last second on the clock and were able to convert twice on third down and once on fourth down to put an end to the Huskies rally.

While the defeat was disappointing, the Huskies offense had an impressive afternoon. Out of the seven drives that they had, five of them ended with scores and they finished with zero turnovers. Morris threw for 254 yards on 15/23 passing while the team missed junior wide receiver Terrell Bynum and sophomore wideout Puka Nacua. UW’s leading receiver was Ty Jones, the junior had 2 catches for 79 yards. Behind him was freshmen Rome Odunze who had 69 yards on 5 catches. The leading rusher for the Dawgs was McGrew who had 16 carries for 65 yards and the two scores.

Even with the loss, the Huskies are sitting atop the Pac-12 north with a 3-1 record and control their destiny. Next up for the Huskies is their waited clash with the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on December 12th.