A 25-minute fourth-quarter power outage was the biggest disaster at Huskies Stadium Friday.
But just barely.
Washington (7-2) won them all.
Despite a first half filled with potentially fatal mistakes, UW outlasted No. 23 Oregon State–an 18-play, 92-yard, four-minute, 25-second march on a 22-yard field goal–to seal an improbable 24-21 win.
“We have a goal to win championships and we talked about it at halftime,” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said Friday night. “If you’re going to be a championship-caliber team, you’ve got to find ways to fight and win games like this — physical, back-and-forth, tough. If the lights go out, throw that in there.”
The first half problem mentioned above showed the following.
- A Michael Penix Jr. pick-six, in which Washington’s redshirt junior quarterback spotted wide receiver Jalen McMillan and telegraphed the gift — was returned 37 yards by linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold to give the Beavers a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter.
- Of the injured Beavers’ 106 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry, 81 of those came from 11 to true freshman Damien Martinez. Redshirt junior Deshaun Fenwick also rushed for a 3-yard touchdown on Oregon State’s opening drive.
- A snap shot by redshirt freshman Jack McCallister, who fumbled the football and was immediately tackled for an eight-yard loss. (McAllister’s other first-half punt sailed wide for a modest 18-yard net.)
- Zero Washington ranks second in the Pac-12 with 25 sacks for a team that has had one takedown in its past four games, but Zero Washington will disable a sack or force a turnover.
- A measly 35 UW rushing yards… 15 of the end-round came on wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk.
UW should have been buried at halftime, considering the explosion of Huskies errors. Previously, they could cut the lights.
So how did the Huskies win?
It’s a complicated answer. But it starts with a pair of bottom stops in the fourth.
Those (stops) were what kept us in the game and kept us from that one-point deficit. But one point was all we needed to get back at him.
Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Huskies abruptly ended a 12-play, 63-yard march. Giant UW defensive end Ulumo tackled Ale Martinez on third-and-1 for a one-yard loss, then cornerback Michael Powell and wide receiver Dar Zion Tupula-Fetui combined to overwhelm 239-pound Wildcat quarterback Jack Colletto for no gain.
Oregon State’s next drive also fizzled in the red zone. Following the blocked punt, the Beavers opted to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Huskies’ 15 — a steady wind that might convince coach Jonathan Smith to play again. On fourth down, quarterback Ben Gulbranson sailed over Martinez’s head — resulting in a second straight Huskies stop.
After that, Washington’s offense finally got going. The Huskies went on a 15-play, 85-yard drive — thanks to three improbable conversions. On third-and-16, Penix found wide receiver Rom Odunzen on a screen for a 27-yard gain. On third-and-11, he hit McMillan for 17 yards. On fourth-and-10, he found McMillan for 18 more. Senior running back Wayne Taulapapa took a Cat tip and drove into the end zone to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:23 left in the second quarter.
“We prepare for those (third-and-long) situations, knowing that all great offenses are going to be in those situations at some point in the game,” said wide receiver Rom Odunze, who had seven catches for 102 yards. “We know we can go out there and execute and turn those around regardless of the yard.”
So… despite the pick-six, and the poor punts, and the porous run defense, and the lack of a pass rush, and four unexpected penalties, UW somehow trailed 14-7 at halftime. The Huskies even outscored the Beavers 189-162 in that stretch.
But the mistakes weren’t left in the locker room.
Of course, UW tied the game midway through the third quarter — when Penix picked up the shotgun on third-and-goal (following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by left guard Troy Fataun) and tight end Jack Westover found himself alone in the corner of the end zone. An improbable 24-yard score.
But the face mask punishment changed the pace.
On the following drive, Gulbranson took a snap from the Huskies’ 42-yard line and fumbled carelessly. Senior edge Jeremiah Martin overthrew left tackle Joshua Gray on a nasty spin move before downing Gulbranson at the 50-yard line. He had to spark a second straight Beaver score.
Martin was instead flagged for a completely unnecessary face mask penalty. And two plays later, Fenwick made it pay — taking a Wildcat snap and diving into the end zone for a 19-yard score to give Oregon State a 21-14 lead.
But the Huskies had another answer. UW went on a 9-play, 66-yard drive — featuring runs of 10 and 19 yards. This one from four yards out fell into the end zone for the second touchdown for Taulapapa to tie it again at 21-21.
It was a blackout car.
The Husky offense mounted an impressive drive following three straight points following a major power outage. UW put together an 18-play, 92-yard march — including third-down conversions to Devin Culp, Jalen McMillan and Cameron Davis.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played hard,” DeBoer said. “There came a point where we got close to midfield, and you know, ‘We’re the strikers now.’ As you head up, you worry about the damage to the wind and how long it will take for their damage. There comes a time when we go out of our own territory and you know, ‘This is in our court.’
On third-and-6 from the Beavers’ 21-yard line, Davis hauled in a Penix pass for a crucial six-yard gain — the same route that Davis had previously brought down. Davis — who had 55 rushing yards and five catches for 27 yards — contributed, “I wouldn’t say it was slow. I really locked in. I saw the ball swing a little bit, so I guess that made me lock in a little bit. But at the end of the day, I trust my hands and my eyes.”
After Penix scrambled for a yard, wide receiver Giles Jackson took a pop pass around the right edge for 12 more yards. With a couple incompletions and Penix kneeling, quarterback Peyton Henry made a 22-yard field goal to end the game.
“I was picturing myself in that situation early in the fourth quarter when he was still tied up,” Henry said. “Because I knew it was going to come down to one shot. So I was ready to go.”
Penix finished with 298 passing yards (58% completion) with a touchdown and an interception. Linebacker Cam Bright contributed a team-high 10 tackles and a second-half sack, as Washington’s defense held OSU to 69 rushing yards and 3.8 yards per carry in the second half. UW went 11 for 18 on third downs.
And when they needed to, the Huskies turned the lights out.