Oops! My bad.
Yes, I’m the fool-hearted reporter who tried to get a score out to the masses as soon as possible from the press box at Husky Stadium.
With a few minutes remaining, I gave you a 13-7 White team victory in the University of Washington’s spring game Friday night.
Nick Montana changed all that.
The newcomer quarterback from California, who last week in the team’s first full scrimmage looked raw and flustered, led the Purple offense on a game-winning 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive over the final 4:05 to pull out a 14-13 triumph.
And only did Montana pulled a win out of a loss, he did it twice.
Driving the offense to the White 2-yard-line with one second remaining, Montana took a snap, rolled left and bolted up the gut for what appeared the game-tying score, pending the point-after kick attempt.
One of the longstanding rules of spring games is the quarterback – whoever it is – is not to be tackled. A “touch” usually halts a play, but it isn’t clear if Montana would have scored on the run up the middle regardless.
“I think he would have really scored, but I just wanted to give them another shot … the defense,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said.
By this time, most of the starters, including Jake Locker, were crowded 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage to watch how this game was going to end.
Again from the 2-yard-line, Montana rolled left. This time, he rifled a low bullet in the direction of receiver Luther Leonard, who slumped to the wet turf to haul in the pass in front of cornerback Adam Long for the score.
“It was a sprint (play) left,” Leonard said. “I had to come back to the ball and find a way to get open. Nicky saw me, threw it to me. Adam had good coverage, but I just made the play.”
Tied 13-13 with no time remaining, Sarkisian had one more unexpected trick up his sleeve. He summoned backup kicker Eric Guttorp for the extra point attempt.
That would not usually be a big deal, but Guttorp had not kicked in any live setting at all this spring.
“Tried to make it as exciting as possible,” Sarkisian said.
Guttorp made the kick, and it sent the Purple team – made up of the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense – into a cheering frenzy.
It also left Locker and company stunned.
“That was tough at the end, I don’t know,” Huskies receiver James Johnson said. “Nick made some plays. He drove the ball down there. They beat our defense. It’s all good. It’s about competition.”
Because Montana is a newcomer – he’s been at the UW for five weeks – he is not allowed to speak to reporters. What was his reaction? A smile, a calm walk to the tunnel and – most importantly – his first win.
So what if it was just the spring game.
“Nick played good,” Leonard said. “How you define a quarterback is by wins and losses, and we won. I feel like he did a good job.”
• Locker played four series. His outing was underwhelming, to say the least (3-of-7, 15 yards, sacked once). Most of his misses were high to receivers. Cody Bruns did drop one of Locker’s passes.
The only score Locker led the team on was a Deontae Cooper 1-yard run with 6:46 to go in the first half – off Anthony Boyles’ fumble recovery and return (after Victor Burnett’s hit on running back Cole Sager) to the Purple’s 27-yard line.
“I think you always like to play a little bit more, have the opportunity to get a couple more snaps,” Locker said. “We had a good spring. We had a good body of work – something we can build on and go forward.”
• If it weren’t for the late-arriving heroics of Montana, Boyles would have been the frontrunner for game MVP honors.
The converted receiver had the fumble recovery. He picked off Montana and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown with 12:17 to go. And he had a rattling hit on receiver William Chandler for a 2-yard loss two drives later.
“I thought Anthony had a great day,” Sarkisian said.
• With all the talent at tight end, and the playmaking ability, just who hauled in the game’s longest play – a 31-yard touchdown catch early in the second half?
It was Marek Domanski, who before his catch was just No. 85 on the roster.
“I came out of nowhere, but they called base personnel, and I ran in there. They called the play, ‘Amigo,’ and I did what I was coached to do. To my surprise I was wide open,” Domanski said.
Did the defense know who he was?
“Maybe they didn’t, because they just let me run right by,” Domanski said. “It definitely felt great.”
• Demitrius Bronson was the workhorse running back for the Purple offense, and he finished with a game-high 72 rushing yards on 11 carries.
On the heels of a forgettable spring-scrimmage performance Saturday, his outing in front of the big crowd Friday was just what he needed.
“It’s all about coming out and having a good time, running the ball hard,” Bronson said. “We were out here to have fun.”