The final terminology used by members of the Washington football team on Saturday was an echo of the words used after the Apple Cup.
“Frustrating,” Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
“Disappointing,” linebacker John Timu said.
“It hurts,” wide receiver Kasen Williams said.
Washington was left lamenting for the second time in as many games, though it never had a handle on the Saturday’s bowl game the way it did the Apple Cup. There were other issues in the Huskies’ narrow 28-26 loss to 20th-ranked Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl before 33,217 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Ones that even a record-setting day from running back Bishop Sankey of 205 rushing yards -- he was named game MVP and set a Washington record for rushing yards in a bowl game -- couldn’t help.
As a result, Washington lost its second consecutive bowl game under Sarkisian and went 7-6 for the third consecutive season. Sarkisian is 26-25 since taking over the Huskies prior to the 2009 season.
Washington led once. The Huskies were behind 18-3 in the second quarter, only to put on a swift rally and trail 18-17 at the half. Their first lead came when Travis Coons hit a 38-yard field goal with 4:09 remaining, putting Washington in front 26-25.
But, a 47-yard kickoff return by Boise’s Shane Williams-Rhodes put the Broncos at Washington’s 42-yard line. Boise State converted a fourth-and-1 -- it converted on fourth down twice in the game -- eventually setting up a 27-yard field goal by Michael Frisina for a 28-26 lead with 1:16 remaining.
There stood another opportunity for Keith Price during his careening season. He threw three consecutive short passes to drag Washington along. He spiked the ball to kill the clock with 23 seconds left. On third-and-6 from the Boise 49-yard line, Price looked over the middle, fired and was intercepted for the 13th time this season. Price finished 20-for-39 for 242 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Price said he never saw the safety and thought Cody Bruns was running free. He also said if Sarkisian opens the quarterback competition next spring, he would “accept” that.
“I mean, that’s not my concern,” Price said. “That’s coach’s decision. If he decided to do it, I wouldn’t be mad at him. I can’t control that, I can only control myself. I’m not afraid of competition at all.”
Price’s 6-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins yanked Washington to within 25-23 with 2:28 left in the third. His throw on the two-point conversion attempt was knocked away. Washington put together a 14-play, 76-yard drive leading to Coons’ field goal and the short-lived lead. Coons missed a 41-yard kick wide right with 12:02 left in the fourth quarter.
Down 18-3 with just 5:25 remaining until the half, Washington sprinted back into the game. Sankey scored from 26 yards out after a 39-yard completion to Williams, during which Williams stiff-armed his way for extra yardage. The Huskies trailed 18-10 after a sluggish first half.
Another quick score followed. Price cut back, spun and reached to the end zone to narrowly score with just three seconds remaining in the half. Despite turning the ball over twice, missing several tackles and Price being erratic, he was just 6-for-18 in the first half, the Huskies were down only 18-17 at the break.
The main reason was Sankey. He ran for 130 yards in the first half and caught two passes for 48 yards, one of which was a 42-yard gain. He finished with 30 carries for 205 yards and six receptions for 74 yards.
Price’s second consecutive poor throw during the opening series of the second quarter, he missed an open Bruns the play before, was intercepted by Boise cornerback Jamar Taylor. Boise’s 17th interception of the season came after Price pumped toward Williams and threw short. It was an easy interception for Taylor.
Boise quickly trekked down the field and kicked a field goal for a 12-3 lead with 9:00 to go in the second quarter.
Things became more dire for Washington on Boise’s next possession. Boise State went from third-and-14 at its own 8 to in the end zone three plays later following the Broncos’ first trick-play pass of the day.
Boise quarterback Joe Southwick stepped up and completed an 18-yard pass to Matt Miller. Southwick hit Aaron Burks for a 40-yard completion. The next play, Boise went to a trick play it had been setting up earlier. Southwick threw into the flat to Potter, who settled and threw to Holden Hoff down the left hash. Huff caught the pass, Justin Glenn tried to drag him down, but Huff rolled over the top of Glenn for the score. Boise had run the play twice prior in the half without throwing.
The Broncos went for two, but Washington stuffed the sweep to the right. Still, the Broncos were in full control, up 18-3 with 5:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Boise scored its first touchdown on a 16-yard Southwick pass with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. Huskies tackle Danny Shelton blocked the extra point attempt. The Broncos opened the scoring with a 34-yard field goal from Frisina. His previous season-long was 30 yards.
Now, Washington heads into the offseason with same record as the prior two years, quarterback questions and consecutive bowl losses.
“You’ve just got live with it,” Williams said. “Worst part is it’s the last game of the season.”
They get another shot in a little more nine months.