University of Washington

UW kicker Vizcaino gets vindication with game-winning FG vs. Utah

Washington kicker Tristan Vizcaino (43) is lifted in the air by a teammate as A.J. Carty, left, cheers while Vizcaino is being interviewed after kicking a field goal to beat Utah on Saturday in Seattle. Washington won 33-30.
Washington kicker Tristan Vizcaino (43) is lifted in the air by a teammate as A.J. Carty, left, cheers while Vizcaino is being interviewed after kicking a field goal to beat Utah on Saturday in Seattle. Washington won 33-30. The Associated Press

Reporters were waiting for players to arrive when one figure came out of the locker room and was bombarded by every television camera, camera phone and recorder within distance.

Having the media hang on your every word might be scary for some. Oddly enough, talking to reporters was probably the easiest thing Tristan Vizcaino had done within the previous 20 or so minutes.

The hardest came when he lined up a 38-yard field goal attempt and connected for a game-winning kick in Washington’s 33-30 victory over Utah on Saturday at Husky Stadium.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words for it,” he said. “It felt great. One of the best, if not the best feeling, you can have as a kicker.”

UW (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) rallied in the game’s final two minutes to give Vizcaino a four-second window to determine the difference between a win or overtime.

Nothing about the attempt was a gimme.

He was on the left hash and needed to kick the ball at a certain angle.

The second the ball left his foot, his follow through was textbook. His shoulders were square and his leg appeared as if he put every ounce of energy he could muster into his swing.

Vizcaino’s ball got loft and quickly formed an arch only to start falling. The ball’s trajectory nearly made his attempt a perfect one as it nearly split the exact center of the upright.

Before the officials signaled, at least three UW players knew the game was over. They raised their arms in celebration while the rest of the stadium stayed silent.

Until a loud roar shook Husky Stadium and sent everyone into a frenzy.

Vizcaino could barely move a step before he was mobbed by teammates. They jumped up and down and patted their kicker on the head. Even Hunter Bryant, who is out with a leg injury, was so elated that he jumped into the celebration.

“It was awesome to see Tristan hit the game winner,” Browning said. “I think he was getting booed at one point by the fans but he made it when it mattered.”

Browning wasn’t the only one who had something to say about UW fans as it relates to Vizcaino.

“Just some mishaps throughout the year but that’s a great way for him as a senior for him to go out and get that game-winning kick,” senior tight end Will Dissly said. “That’s just awesome for a player who’s had fans talk behind your back saying, ‘You’re not good enough’ and to go out and prove them wrong, that’s super awesome.”

Compared to most teams, UW is having a strong year.

The Huskies aren’t returning to the College Football Playoff. But they are on pace to enjoy one of the best seasons in the school’s illustrious history.

UW could reach the 10-win plateau for the 11th time in school history.

Still, it’s led to some discussions with the team’s kicking situation being a hot topic.

Vizcaino was 3 for 3 in the season opener at Rugters only to go 0 for 1 the following week against Montana.

He was 1 of 3 against Fresno State and a combined 0 for 2 against Oregon State and California. Vizcaino was benched for the team’s 13-7 loss at Arizona State in favor of freshman Van Soderberg, who missed both attempts in the defeat.

The Huskies went on a bye and returned to Vizcaino. He went 3 for 3 against UCLA and 1 for 2 against Oregon.

Vizcaino didn’t get an opportunity against Stanford.

“I wanted the game winner,” he said. “I wanted it last week at Stanford if we were in that position too. Our specialist unit, Race Porter, A.J. Carty, this is a moment we have been preparing for and a moment we have wanted.”

His night began with missing an extra point attempt which led to boos after UW took a 6-0 lead with 7:11 left in the first quarter.

Vizcaino hit his first field goal, a 34-yarder, for a 16-10 lead with 1:58 left in the second quarter. He’d miss an attempt from the Utes’ 13 early in the third quarter.

While UW sprinted to a wild finish, Vizcaino was on the sideline keeping cool and waiting for his moment to come.

And, when the time came, he didn’t miss.

“I didn’t say anything to him. We had nothing to lose on that stage,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “I think he’s cleaner from the left hash. I really thought he was going to make it.

“It was great to see him make it.”

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark