Next week, the Washington Huskies play against the Michigan Wolverines in a game that seemingly was going to act as an opportunity for the program to get past their big-game woes. But as they set their sights on Michigan they actively managed to overlook Montana and suffered a flat-out embarrassing 13-7 defeat on Saturday night because of it.
Let’s face it, even if Montana has been a solid team at the FCS level - this was not a game that was ever supposed to scare the Huskies. In the last few seasons, Montana has not only been far from a national championship contender but they’ve also been unable to win the Big Sky. Yet still, they were able to march into Husky Stadium and come away victorious.
When the game kicked off, there was a thick layer of confidence in the crisp Seattle air. That confidence only skyrocketed when Washington went 78 yards in 9 plays on their opening drive to gift them a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was by way of redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris who snuck the ball in after a couple of bruising runs by sophomore tailback Richard Newton.
Montana then responded with 8 play, 66-yard drive that at one point looked as if it’d end with a touchdown but instead was capped off by a field goal and from that point on, the struggle ensued.
Throughout the rest of the half, the Huskies found themselves in a defensive battle with Montana. Their final five drives after the Morris score were a punt, another punt, a missed field goal from 50 yards, an interception, and then the half ended after they ran out the clock.
There was reason to be concerned but it felt as if this would just be another situation where there’s an upset scare but only a temporary one. Instead, Montana was a headache that cold water and Tylenol couldn’t fix for Jimmy Lake and Co.
In the second half, the Huskies were pretty much the same versions of their first-half post-touchdown selves. They were bland on offense, they executed poorly, gifted their foe with another interception all while Montana’s defensive line continued to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, the Husky defense was largely still doing their part but as the half carried on they eventually began to breathe harder and step slower which allowed Montana to get deep into Husky territory and tack on a touchdown and another field goal to give them a 13-7 advantage over UW.
But even through all of the struggles Dylan Morris and the Husky offense still had opportunities to win the game. The first came with 2:54 left in the fourth after the Grizzlies' final score of the night, but after just 6 plays the Huskies had turned the ball over on downs. The Montana offense came back onto the field with 1:33 left but the Washington defense again played savior by forcing the pesky Grizzlies into a long, 50-yard field goal which was no good.
So the UW offense again trotted back on the field and perhaps this time, they’d help resuscitate Husky nation by allowing them to breathe a monstrous sigh of relief.
Washington took the field, ran six plays, and saw their world come crashing down when Morris threw his third pick of the night, sealing what most will refer to as the worst loss in the program’s recent history.
Defensively, the Huskies did just about all you could ask for. They only mustered 232 yards total with 105 of them coming through the air and the other 127 on the ground. They forced Montana into going 2-13 on 3rd down and 0-1 on 4th but in the end it just wasn’t enough.
The Husky offense on the other hand had their struggles, to say the least. Morris went 27/46 for 226 through the air along with the three interceptions and rushing touchdown. Newton had 17 carries for 62 yards and the leading receiver for the Huskies was junior tight end Cade Otton, he hauled in 8 catches for 82 yards. The Huskies had 291 total yards, went 4-14 on 3rd down, 1-3 on 4th, and scored just the lone opening drive touchdown.
This is a loss that will feel sorry for the (0-1) Huskies but they have a chance to silence all of the noise in next Saturday’s clash against (1-0) Michigan on ABC.