UW's John Ross III talks about big game against Rutgers
The three primary kick and punt returners used by Washington and Rutgers — John Ross III and Dante Pettis for UW, Janarion Grant for RU — entered Saturday’s game with a combined 12 special-teams touchdowns among them.
Ross and Pettis each added one more Saturday and moved up a notch in UW’s career record books in the process.
When Ross returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of UW’s 48-13 victory, he took over the No. 1 spot on the Huskies career kick-return touchdown list. It was his fourth in two-plus college seasons, and his first since Jan. 2, 2015.
Ross was previously tied with Jim Krieg, who returned three kickoffs for scores from 1970-71.
And Pettis, a junior, is now tied atop the Huskies career punt-return touchdown list with Beno Bryant. Pettis has four punt-return touchdowns after returning a Rutgers punt 68 yards for a score in the third quarter. That touchdown gave the Huskies a 41-3 lead.
It was the first time the Huskies returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game since Sept. 15, 2001, when Roc Alexander (kickoff) and Charles Frederick (punt) did it against Idaho.
“The thing is, you get some talented guys back there and then all those other guys up front, if they’re doing their job, we have guys that can find creases and use their speed,” UW coach Chris Petersen said.
Grant, meanwhile, didn’t get many chances. The senior receiver returned three kickoffs — UW kicker Tristan Vizcaino booted the other five for touchbacks — and totaled 76 yards, with a long of 32. And none of Vizcaino’s four punts were returned.
Petersen credited Vizcaino for mostly keeping the ball away from Grant.
“You keep kicking the ball to a guy like that, he’s going to get something done — you can see late in the game, he was starting to get a little bit of rhythm returning those kicks,” Petersen said, “so I thought (Vizcaino) did a good job.”
Four true freshmen made their collegiate debuts for the Huskies on Saturday: offensive guard Nick Harris, safety Taylor Rapp, receiver Aaron Fuller and linebacker Brandon Wellington.
The Huskies played eight true freshmen in their season opener last season.
There were other firsts, too. Redshirt freshman receiver Andre Baccellia caught his first career touchdown, a 4-yard toss from backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels — which was his first career touchdown pass.
Star safety Budda Baker played offense for the first time in his career, though it was for one snap — a fly sweep that lost 1 yard. … Senior kicker Cameron Van Winkle moved into sixth place on UW’s career made field-goal list. He now has 38. … Ross’ five receptions were the most he’s had in a game in his career. … Pettis has caught a pass in 23 consecutive games. … UW’s 24 points in the first quarter tied for fourth-most in school history.