BERKELEY, Calif. – Friday night in Northern California won’t be archived for aesthetics despite its historical significance.
The game featured eight turnovers and 18 penalties, but also a record-setting performance by Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a career-high in rushing yards for Bishop Sankey. Together, they produced a memorable-yet-ugly 21-13 win for Washington over California at Memorial Stadium.
“All wins are awesome,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian declared.
Lack of beauty aside, Washington will take it. The Huskies moved back above .500 at 5-4 overall and to 3-3 in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Huskies’ six-game road losing streak is over, and they have won two straight.
“Like I said before, losing can be contagious, but so is winning,” Sarkisian said.
There were three fumbles in six plays as the teams volleyed possession in the second half. Shaq Thompson’s interception and 31-yard return put Washington at the Cal 28-yard line with 6:13 left in the game holding a 14-13 lead.
Sankey ran four times from there to pull Washington into the end zone from 1 yard out, giving the Huskies an eight-point lead with 4:11 remaining. Sankey ran for a career-high 189 yards.
Washington stopped Cal’s final drive when a fourth-and-5 pass from the Huskies’ 25-yard line by backup Bears quarterback Allan Brigford fell incomplete. The Huskies took over, gained one first down then kneeled out the clock.
Seferian-Jenkins spent the day moving into the record book. After 22 games, he’s now Washington’s all-time leader in career receiving yards by a tight end with 1,170. He passed Dave Williams, who had 1,133 from 1964-66. He also tied Jerramy Stevens’ record of 48 receptions in a season by a tight end (2000), finishing the game with eight catches for 154 yards and a score.
Seferian-Jenkins’ 43-yard catch put Washington at the Cal 9-yard line late in the third quarter. After the Huskies backtracked for two consecutive plays, putting them in third-and-goal from the 29-yard line, Seferian-Jenkins again came up big, hauling in a lead-grabbing touchdown with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
Cal running back C.J. Anderson turned a third-and-24 from Cal’s 16-yard line into first-and-goal from the Washington 10-yard line. Anderson bounced outside and was caught at the end of his run by Thompson, who grabbed him from behind and was called for a horse-collar tackle.
But Washington was able to force a 23-yard field goal that gave Cal a 10-7 lead with 11:40 left in the third quarter.
Sankey fumbled on the first play of the next possession, giving Cal the ball at Washington’s 36-yard line. Again, Washington stiffened, allowing just a 21-yard field goal after Cal was in a goal-to-go situation. The Bears led 13-7 with 3:59 left in the third, leaving an opening for Washington.
The Huskies let several opportunities escape them in the first half. Price threw an interception on third-and-5 at the Cal 9-yard line with 12 seconds left in the first half after locking onto Seferian-Jenkins.
Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens dropped a deep pass from Price that hit him in the hands and would have been a 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Later in the half, Washington defensive lineman Danny Shelton committed his second big penalty in as many weeks when he was called for hands to the face to give Cal a first down. Washington had forced an incompletion on the play, putting the Bears in what would have been fourth-and-10 from the Washington 28-yard line.
Instead, Shelton’s penalty vaulted Cal to the 14-yard line, where Chris Harper took a reverse for the tying score with 2:46 left in the second quarter.
Cal fumbled on its first two possessions, yet entered the half tied 7-7 with Washington. The Huskies put together their best drive of the half following the first fumble. Washington’s 11-play 77-yard march ended with a 4-yard score by Sankey for a 7-0 lead.
John Timu had forced running back Isi Sofele to fumble with 10:19 left in the first quarter to stall what was a brisk opening drive by Cal. Marcus Peters recovered at Washington’s 21-yard line.
Two big plays from Seferian-Jenkins – catches of 13 yards and 28 yards – dragged Washington down the field. Cody Bruns caught a 9-yard slant on third-and-8 from the Cal 13-yard line to put Washington at the 4. Sankey ran it in two plays later.
It wasn’t pretty, but it beat back road demons and doubt. And Washington was more than happy with firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas