Sunday, November 28, 2010
Washington defeats Cal on final play 16-13
With the Washington Huskies trailing the California Golden Bears 13-10 from the California one yard line Steve Sarkisian showed some guts by going for the win. Instead of kicking the field goal and sending the game into overtime Sarkisian let the clock wind down to one second left. After Sarkisian called the final timeout he huddled up his team and the Huskies responded with Chris Polk scoring a rushing touchdown with no time left to give the Huskies a 16-13 win. The Huskies(5-6,4-4) moved to within one win of reaching their first bowl game since 2002. While the loss eliminated California(5-7,3-6) from bowl contention and first losing season under Jeff Tedford.
Both teams had been struggling to move the ball all game long. In the first half the Huskies were shutout while California scored a controversial field goal when Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 53 yard field goal with no time left in the first half. The field goal was controversial because it had appeared there was no time left on the clock. California had led this ugly half with a 3-0 lead. Jake Locker was having problems moving the ball but that would change on two passes in the second half.
The Huskies would finally get on the board in the second half on a very fortunate play. Locker electing to not run despite the wide open space would throw a pass intended for D'Andre Goodwin who covered well by the Cal defender. Instead of an interception the ball would bounce to Goodwin who would run for 80 yards to give the Huskies a 7-3 lead. That touchdown pass was the 54th of Jake Lockers career at Washington putting him just one behind leader Cody Pickett. Pickett was also the starting quarterback last time Washington played in a bowl game.
The Huskies would give up the 7-3 lead on their next offensive series when on third and 20 Jake Locker would get sacked then fumble as Cameron Jordan would rumble for a 21 yard touchdown recovery. Cal would take the lead on that play 10-7 but the Huskies would quickly respond. Jesse Callier would take the kickoff 57 yards to set up the Huskies field goal by Erik Folk from 37 yards out to tie the score up at 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Golden Bears would go on their first good drive of the game led by Shane Vereen. Vereen would rush for 106 on 23 carries on the day. The Bears would end the drive with a Tavecchio 47 yard field goal to give them the 13-10 lead. The Huskies defense led by the great Mason Foster kept stopping California which set up one final drive for Jake Locker. Locker would have one last chance to keep the Huskies bowl hopes alive and like he did against Oregon State and USC he would deliver.
On the final drive after Locker had completed two passes to set up a third and two on their own 29. The Huskies called a "wild cat" play which had Locker lined up at receiver and Chris Polk take the snap from shotgun where he would rush for a gain of five yards to give the Huskies a first down. On the very next play Locker would throw a long beautiful pass pass to Jermaine Kearse where Kearse made a nice catch on for 46 yards. That play put the Huskies in field goal position at the California 20 yard line. Callier would rush for five yards on the next play to the Cal 15, then Locker out of the shotgun would rush for 14 yards on his next two carries to the California one yard line. After back to back failed quarterback sneaks that set up a fourth and goal from the one yard line Sarkisian decided to go for the win. Rushing behind true freshman Colin Porter Polk jumped into the end zone for the 16-13 win. That would be the Huskies third win of the season on the games final play.
The Huskies didn't look very good on offense but they got the job done when the game mattered most. Jake Locker would finish the game 17 of 27 passing for 237 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Chris Polk would carry the ball just 18 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Senior D'Andre Goodwin has had a great bounce back season and would have five receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies defense also held California quarterback Brock Mansion to 12 of 23 passing for 92 yards and an interception by Quinton Richardson. The Huskies defense allowed just six points all game and seven the previous week.
The Huskies are finding ways to win this year which is unlike the previous years. The Huskies have won three games this year on the final play of the game. Last year you saw the Huskies lose three heartbreakers but ever since the BYU game the Huskies are winning the close games. The Huskies are also 4-4 in Pac-10 play last time they did that was in 2003. The Huskies when they were down 3-6 have stepped up and made this Apple Cup matter and I'll credit the coaching staff for keeping this team together. The offense and mainly Locker passing still having their problems but the defense is carrying the team allowing just 13 points the last two games. The Huskies have rallied and now are just a win away in the Apple Cup from their first bowl game since 2002. Considering where this team was at three weeks ago this has been quite the turnaround.
- Jake Locker isn't playing his best ball right now. Locker legacy is improving with each and every win. Locker needs to be running more like he was out of the shotgun towards the end of the game. This last game could be huge for Locker's legacy at Washington regardless of his stats a win he will go down as the guy who turned the program around. He gave up millions to come back for his Senior year for games just like next week. With a loss regarldess of his stats Locker will go down as a disappointment. Locker is one touchdown pass away from tieing Cody Pickett passing touchdown record at Washington.
- Chris Polk needs to get more carries. He had just 18 carries despite Locker's struggles. Polk is a bruising back who was a top recruit coming out of high school. The Huskies offensive line actually is pretty decent at run blocking, they struggle with pass blocking which is another reason the Huskies should be featuring the run. With Pullman already having six inches of snow the Huskies need to feature Polk and rushing game next week.
- Mason Foster is having another great season. Foster has been a tackling machine while at Washington and will go down as one of the best outside linebackers in Huskies history. Foster could win Pac-10 defensive player of the year. I'm glad Sarkisian brought him to Pac-10 media day because Foster is a great Husky and with Locker being a Senior I've felt has been somewhat overshadowed. Foster will be playing on Sunday's for years to come and is the Huskies best OLB since Marquis Cooper.
- Sarkisian needs to realize he isn't at USC and ditch the Quarterback sneak on the goaline. Last year that lost the game for the Huskies against Notre Dame, and this year against USC Locker got hurt on a play. While against California the game wasn't lost because of Polk's fourth and one touchdown. Polk should have ran the ball on second and goal and for sure on third and goal. The result worked out for Sarkisian and hopefully he finally learns from his mistakes and until Porter and Kohler are older just ditch that play from the playbook.
- D'Andre Goodwin has had a great comeback Senior season. Last year he caught just 14 passes after catching 69 as a sophomore. This year Goodwin has 39 receptions for 471 yards and four touchdowns. He is second on the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns behind Jermaine Kearse. Hopefully James Johnson takes notice and instead of transfering just works harder next season. Goodwin has shown good leadership for Huskies down the road that regardless of where you are listed on the depth chart you can move up the ranks.
All in all, this was a huge win for the Steve Sarkisian era. Sarkisian unlike Willingham went for the win instead of overtime. As Husky fans remember in 2006 after the miracle hail marry catch intsead of going for two Willingham went for the tie and overtime where the Huskies lost. Sarkisian gets that from Pete Carroll that agressive go for it attitude. This was a big win for Sarksian and Locker which hopefully propels them greater things. Hopefully down the road we look at that Chris Polk touchdown run like basketball fans look at Nate Robinson's shot against Oregon State. The Huskies must win one more and it won't be easy against the Washington State Cougars who have had three weeks to prepare for this game. The Huskies will be favored and are one win away from a bowl game which was the goal. This win has a chance to be even more memorable if the Huskies take care of business. Just remember Sarkisian had the guts to go for it.