The score was so lopsided that Elijah Qualls, the Washington Huskies’ sophomore nose tackle, had long ago departed along with the rest of UW’s defensive starters.
But he still wanted that shutout. So when backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels lost a fumble deep in UW territory early in the fourth quarter — true garbage time, with the Huskies leading 49-0 — Qualls let Carta-Samuels know what would happen if Sacramento State scored as a result of his gaffe.
“I told him if they got points on the board, I was going to beat him up,” Qualls said with a laugh, “because we worked for that zero.”
And the backups preserved it. The Hornets began that possession at UW’s 4-yard line, then rushed for a loss of two yards, rushed for a loss of one yard, lost another five yards on a false-start penalty, lost another four yards on an unsuccessful rush by the backup quarterback, then lost another 15 yards due to a personal-foul penalty.
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Backed up to a 4th-and-goal from UW’s 31-yard line, Sacramento State attempted a 48-yard field goal. It was blocked by Taniela Tupou.
“I told (Carta-Samuels) to thank Tani,” Qualls joked, “because I was going to go throw him in the ice bath or something.”
Instead, the Huskies left with their first shutout since 2013 (Idaho State, 56-0), and their first shutout in a home opener since beating Northwestern 26-0 in 1984.
“I told everybody, that’s the thing about this team — we have depth,” Qualls said. “Our first, second, third, honestly even redshirts or people that are fourth string — we have people that can play. So it didn’t shock me that they were able to push them back.”
After junior cornerback Kevin King intercepted his second pass of the season and returned it to Sacramento State’s 11-yard line in the second quarter, UW linebacker Azeem Victor taunted a Hornets player and was penalized 15 yards for it.
And he didn’t play again.
“Azeem’s a good kid, he really is,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “(He) plays with a lot of emotion, and he’s going to make a lot of plays for us. To compete like we want to compete, it’s really hard to keep your poise at all times, and we’ll make progress in that area, as well.”
Petersen didn’t seem particularly upset with Victor, acknowledging that it can be difficult to control emotions in a game setting. And Victor’s offense wasn’t nearly as egregious as the unsportsmanlike penalty and subsequent sideline tantrum that got Marcus Peters suspended for a game last season.
“We talk a lot about (conduct penalties), and it’s hard,” Petersen said. “It’s easy for me to sit up here relaxed and nobody’s running me out of bounds or anything like that, or said something to me. It’s easier said than done.”
Huskies true freshman cornerback Austin Joyner left the game with an apparent injury after the opening kickoff. Petersen said it will be a few days before he has an update on Joyner’s status, but that “he didn’t return. So, probably not good.”
Joyner, who starred at cornerback and running back for Marysville-Pilchuck High School, was one of eight true freshmen who played in UW’s season-opener at Boise State last week.
Shortly after the game, Bellevue High School cornerback Isaiah Gilchrist used his Twitter account to announce a commitment to the Huskies.
Gilchrist is rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com. He lists offers from several other Pac-12 schools, including USC and Oregon.
Myles Gaskin’s 146 rushing yards were the third-most by a true freshman in UW history, behind Joe Steele (157 vs. Oregon in 1976) and Willie Hurst (155 vs. UCLA in 1998). … Attendance was 55,010, the smallest crowd to see a home opener at Husky Stadium since 2006. … Freshmen Quinten Pounds (receiver) and Trey Adams (left tackle) made their collegiate debuts. The Huskies have played 10 true freshmen through two games this season. … Jake Browning’s 78-yard touchdown pass to senior Marvin Hall was Browning’s first career touchdown pass and Hall’s first career touchdown reception. Browning admitted after the game that he made a bad read on the throw, which was deflected by a Hornets defender into Hall’s arms. “I thought it was going to get picked,” Browning said. “But then it went through his hands and Marv scored. I said a little thank-you to whoever helped me out on that one.” As he secured the catch and began running toward the end zone, Hall said he thought: “God is good.” … Browning’s 326 passing yards were the most by a UW true freshman in a single game. Jake Locker threw for 336 yards in a game as a redshirt freshman in 2007.