LAS VEGAS — The final terminology used by members of the Washington football team after Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl was an echo of the words they used after this year’s Apple Cup.
“Frustrating,” Washington 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 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 before a crowd of 33,217 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Ones that even a record-setting day from running back Bishop Sankey couldn’t help – he was named game MVP after a UW bowl game-record 205 rushing yards.
As a result, Washington lost its second consecutive bowl game under Sarkisian, and finished 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 to cut the deficit to 18-17 at halftime. Their first lead came when Travis Coons hit a 38-yard field goal with 4:09 to play in the game, putting the Huskies in front 26-25.
But, a 47-yard kickoff return by Shane Williams-Rhodes put Boise State at Washington’s 42. The Broncos converted a fourth-and-1 play – they 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 quarterback 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 to go. On a third-and-6 play from the Boise 49, Price looked over the middle, fired and was intercepted by safety Jeremy Ioane – Price’s 13th pick of the season. He finished with 20 completions from 39 passes for 242 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Price said he never saw Ioane 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 touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins cut Washington’s deficit to 25-23 with 2:28 to go in the third quarter. 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 remaining in the game.
Down 18-3 with 5:25 to go until halftime – thanks in part to a Price interception and a trick-play TD pass by Boise State – Washington sprinted back into the game when 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 were down 18-10.
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 – 6-for-18 passing in the first half – the Huskies trailed 18-17 at halftime.
The main reason was Sankey. Of the 238 yards Washington gained in the opening half, Sankey had 178 of them. He ran for 130 yards in the first half and caught two passes for 48 yards, one of which went for a 42-yard gain. He finished with 30 carries for 205 yards and six receptions for 74 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 to live with it,” Williams said. “Worst part is it’s the last game of the season.”
The Huskies get another shot at the Broncos in about eight months, when Boise State is scheduled to travel to Seattle for the Huskies’ 2013 opener in the new Husky Stadium.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports