Losers of three in a row, called soft by out-of-town journalists and wondering where the season was heading, Washington provided a massive shift.
The Huskies slugged it out with seventh-ranked Oregon State on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field on the way to a 20-17 upset after Travis Coons kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1 minute, 20 seconds left.
Oregon State’s final shot came on a fourth-and-19 from Washington’s 47-yard line, but Cody Vaz’s pass down the middle fell incomplete.
Washington took over, Keith Price took a knee, fans rushed the field and the Huskies upped their record to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Pacific-12 Conference.
“I thought we showed a great deal of resiliency,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “A lot of things didn’t go our way. We showed the mental and physical toughness it takes to beat a Top 10-ranked opponent.”
It was a grind. The Huskies intercepted Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion four times. Washington running back Bishop Sankey plowed for 92 yards and two touchdowns against a Beavers defense that came into the game allowing 80.8 rushing yards per contest.
The Huskies had a hard time cashing in the gifts Oregon State (6-1, 4-1) provided. Washington finally converted a Beavers’ turnover into points when Sankey’s 1-yard touchdown followed a 29-yard completion to Kasen Williams and put UW ahead with 8:19 left.
Mannion, who was making his first start in three weeks after having surgery for a knee injury, was inaccurate all evening. Of his four interceptions, none were more important than the one early in the fourth that led to Washington pushing back into the lead on Sankey’s score.
The fourth pick ended his day. Vaz, who was 2-0 in Mannion’s absence, came in to briskly lead Oregon State down the field for a tying score when he lofted a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Connor Hamlett. With 4:58 left, the game was tied again at 17, setting up Washington’s final, eight-play 63-yard drive.
A personal foul on defensive tackle Danny Shelton caused a drastic change at the start of the fourth quarter. Washington middle linebacker John Timu picked off Mannion and bounced to the outside. As he sprinted down the sideline, Shelton turned and crunched an Oregon State player well behind the play.
Timu was stripped just before the goal line, but Washington recovered in the end zone and touchdown was signaled just after the flag hit the ground. The penalty wiped out the score and pushed Washington back to its own 39-yard line. The Huskies were forced to punt three plays later.
After trailing 10-0 at the half, Oregon State got back into the game when Brandin Cooks sprinted up the sideline in front of the Washington bench for a 54-yard touchdown off a swing pass. The extra point pulled Oregon State to within 10-7 with 7:37 left in the third quarter. It had taken the Beavers just two plays and 38 seconds to go 83 yards.
Oregon State kicked a 30-yard field goal with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter and the two teams entered the fourth quarter tied.
Huskies tight end Michael Hartvigson made a 31-yard reception to put Washington at the Oregon State 5-yard line late in the second quarter. Hartvigson has been among the missing this season. He had just 22 receiving yards all year.
Despite the field position, it was difficult for Washington to get into the end zone. After Kendyl Taylor was stopped short on third-and-goal, and what was initially ruled a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Washington was overturned, the Huskies went for it on fourth-and-goal from just outside the 1-yard line.
Washington, as it often does in short-yardage or late-clock situations, sprinted out of the huddle, quick-snapped the ball and handed it to Sankey. He plowed in for a 10-0 lead with 4:09 remaining in the half. Sankey finished the first half with 67 rushing yards.
The Huskies led at the half for the first time since being ahead 45-0 against FCS opponent Portland State in Week 3.
Sankey also carried Washington down the field on a drive that resulted in a 45-yard field goal from Travis Coons for a 3-0 Huskies lead with 3:12 left in the first quarter. Sankey was able to pick up 43 yards on the drive, the first hint Washington would be able to run effectively against Oregon State.
Washington continued to slug with Oregon State. Safety Sean Parker intercepted a weak Mannion pass in the end zone early in the second quarter, but Washington could not gain a first down on the possession that followed.
Washington picked off Mannion’s next pass when safety Parker backtracked and clobbered wide receiver Markus Wheaton. The ball hung in the air, Wheaton went stiff to the ground and Justin Glenn sprinted in to catch the ball. Wheaton eventually stood up and staggered off, but did not return.
The hard hitting coupled with just enough offense might be enough to change the perception of Washington. At least for one email@example.com @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports