After the Washington Huskies exited the field at Cotton Bowl Stadium, still in celebration mode following their 44-31 win over Southern Mississippi in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jake Browning wasn’t yet ready to consider his team’s promising future.
That kind of reflection, he said, comes later. On Saturday, he simply wanted to think about UW’s seniors, who were fortunate enough to end their collegiate football careers with a victory.
“I think that’s bigger to us than finishing or catapulting into next season or whatever,” said the freshman quarterback Browning.
And while a freshman, tailback Myles Gaskin, took home game MVP honors, the Huskies’ handful of seniors provided noticeable contributions, too.
UW coach Chris Petersen noted afterward that the Huskies’ top three receivers were all seniors. Jaydon Mickens led that effort with eight catches for 95 yards, in addition to a nifty, 29-yard touchdown run in the second quarter in which he took an end-around handoff and juked his way into the end zone.
Senior tight end Joshua Perkins caught three passes for 69 yards, and senior receiver Marvin Hall caught four passes for 44 yards — and threw a key block near the end of Gaskin’s 86-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
That play caught the attention of his teammates, partially because a Hall fumble — the game’s only turnover — led to USM’s game-tying touchdown during the prior possession.
Hall also caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-2 during a drive in the fourth quarter that eventually resulted in a touchdown.
Browning praised that play in particular, because it came on a naked bootleg with Hall sprinting back toward the ball, and it wasn’t an easy catch.
“That was a big-time play,” Browning said. “Not hanging his head at all. I think that was huge.”
Mickens said he remembers seniors crying after UW’s 30-22 loss to Oklahoma State last season in the Cactus Bowl. He didn’t want to relive that feeling this year.
“It felt terrible,” Mickens said. “Still talk about it to this day. ‘Man, we lost that game! Man, we lost that game!’ But now, we have something to talk about at our 20-year reunion.”
UW’s leading tackler, Brian Clay, is also a senior, and senior linebacker Travis Feeney had a sack and two tackles for loss in his final game.
The Huskies also lose starting center Siosifa Tufunga, starting defensive tackle Taniela Tupou, starting linebacker Cory Littleton, punter Korey Durkee, linebacker Scott Lawyer, defensive lineman Jarett Finau, offensive lineman Cory Fuavai and long snapper Ryan Masel.