Wind and rain besieged the greater Seattle area on Saturday night, and so Husky Stadium became a difficult place for even a capable offensive football team to move the ball.
So it was certainly no place for the Washington Huskies, who played without their starting quarterback, their top two running backs and two starters on the offensive line. Their offense consisted mostly of running, running and punting.
Their defense was stout. And junior linebacker Shaq Thompson turned into a workhorse running back in the fourth quarter, leading the Huskies to a game-tying field goal.
But No. 14 Arizona State responded to UW’s only offensive score with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to spark a 24-10 victory before a rain-soaked crowd (paid attendance, not actual) of 64,666.
Sun Devils (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) defensive back Armand Perry returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown on a 4th-and-25 desperation pass in the final minute to account for the final margin.
Redshirt freshman Troy Williams made his first career start at quarterback for the Huskies in place of Cyler Miles, who left last week’s game at Oregon with concussion-like symptoms. Williams found it difficult to throw the ball downfield with any success, completing 18 of 26 passes for only 139 yards and two interceptions.
UW’s running game wasn’t much better for most of the game. With Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman both out with injuries, junior linebacker Shaq Thompson took over primary tailback duties. He carried 21 times for 98 yards, and senior Deontae Cooper chipped in 70 yards on 11 carries. UW averaged just four yards per play.
They were at their best midway through the fourth quarter, feeding Thompson again and again as they drove to ASU’s 8-yard line with a first-and-goal. But they couldn’t punch it in, instead settling for a 23-yard Cameron Van Winkle field goal that tied the score, 10-10, with 7:14 to play.
Another linebacker, senior John Timu, gave the Huskies hope earlier. He picked off a third-down pass by ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly midway through the third quarter and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown, briefly igniting the Husky Stadium crowd and pulling UW within three points at 10-7.
The Huskies eventually got even thanks to Thompson. But Kelly responded to UW’s game-tying field goal by leading ASU on a touchdown drive highlighted by a 23-yard completion to Jaelen Strong, a 12-yard scramble, an 18-yard carry by Demario Richard, and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Gary Chambers. And facing a 4th-and-25 on UW’s next possession, Williams threw a desperation pass that Perry snagged and took to the house.
It was a strong day for the Huskies’ defense. They held ASU to 285 total yards, and Kelly, playing in his first game since Sept. 13 because of a foot injury, battled the elements and a consistent UW pass rush while completing 14 of 25 passes for 180 yards.
On the possession before Timu’s pick-six, ASU had a first-and-goal at UW’s 1-yard line after the Sun Devils forced a Williams fumble and recovered it. But the Huskies stuffed four plays from the 1-yard line to keep the score at 10-0.
And after Williams threw an interception to Jordan Simone late in the third quarter and ASU drove to UW’s 5-yard line, the Huskies sacked Kelly and forced two incompletions before the Sun Devils botched a field-goal attempt and again left the red zone with no points.
The Huskies (5-3, 1-3) sacked Kelly seven times, and senior Hau’oli Kikaha got to him twice to set the UW career sack record with 31.5 and tie the single-season record at 14.5.
The weather was a factor throughout the game. Seattle City Light estimated at one point that more than 50,000 customers were affected by more than 250 power outages in the area caused by high winds, and even ESPN’s telecast of the game — which began at 7:51 p.m. — was spotty and cut out at times.
An announcement was made in the stadium during the first half that The Zone, the area behind the east end zone that serves food and beverages and serves as a gathering place for fans pregame and at halftime, would be closing because of the conditions.
Not long after, the wind uprooted entire sections of the green floor tiles in The Zone as a nearby light standard swayed.