On the wettest Seattle day of 2013, the Washington Huskies adapted and rode a pounding running game, a tough-enough defense and a efficient passing game to a 31-13 win over the Arizona Wildcats.
“A really cool win,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It was one of those games that the weather had an impact on both teams and made it one of those grind-it-out meat-and-potato games. Both teams had to run the ball. Both defenses knew it.”
Washington ran 61 times for 244 yards. A school-record 40 carries came from Bishop Sankey, who ran for 161 yards.
“The weather kind of forced our hand a bit the way we needed to play the game,” Sarkisian said.
The win pushed the Huskies to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Pac-12 Conference. The Wildcats fell to 3-1 and 0-1.
“The conditions probably affected both teams offensively,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “The wind wasn’t as bad as we thought, but it was raining so hard that the ball was wet. Both teams were struggling in the passing game with that. Both teams actually held onto the ball well, because usually you’d see more fumbles in weather like this.”
Still, the wet and the wind took their toll.
Three points after touchdown were missed. Three passes were intercepted. A bad snap led to a safety. There were a couple of fumbles.
But through it all, UW quarterback Keith Price managed to complete 14 of 25 passes for 165 yards, with touchdown passes to Kevin Smith and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
“Be efficient and manage the game,” Price said. “That’s what I wanted to do today.”
Washington ground out some breathing room early. Sean Parker ended Arizona’s opening possession with an interception. Then the Huskies made it pay off with a four-play 35-yard touchdown drive, capped with a 7-yard pass from Price to Smith.
A wild snap snuffed the point-after attempt. However, the Huskies picked up a couple of points soon enough as the Wildcats’ second drive went nowhere and when trying to punt from their own end zone, a high snap resulted in a safety.
Arizona seemed to find its footing a bit after that, and Washington’s lead was 11-6 at halftime.
The Huskies created breathing room by opening the second half with a 14-play, 95-yard drive with the final yard coming on a pass from Price to a wide-open Seferian-Jenkins.
“I think the weather calmed down a little bit,” Price said. “We started airing it out a little bit more. I knew that I needed to get into a rhythm for us to win the game, and guys started making plays. We were just trying to score. We knew that they would have problems trying to match us score for score in these conditions.”
That turned out to be the case.
The Wildcats closed the gap again to 18-13 late in the third quarter. However, the Huskies answered from there with another length-of-the-field drive, this time 90 yards in 10 plays and capped by a spinning 1-yard run by Sankey.
Washington settled it with the only score of the fourth quarter: a 2-yard run by Jesse Callier.
Even in the desert, the Wildcats like to run the ball. They did so again Saturday, with 199 ground yards — 132 of those coming from Ka’Deem Carey, who carries 30 times.
However, Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker completed only 14 of 35 passes for 119 yards and threw two interceptions.
“The rain was coming down hard,” he said. “It was cold. The ball was slippery. First half was the worst.”
Sarkisian also allocated some of the credit to his defense.
“We knew they were going to ground and pound, and we wanted to make sure we tackled and not give up the big play – which we really did tonight in the running game,” he said. “… All in all, it was kind of a bend-but-don’t break performance by the defense against an offense that we knew was capable of big plays.”
The Huskies return to action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at No. 5 Stanford. They return home Oct. 12 to face No. 2 Oregon.
Final stats here.
Final two minutes: That should settle it, as UW stops Arizona on a fourth-down attempt.
3:34 left: UW puts together ideal 10-play, 59-yard drive that eats the clock and ends with a touchdown giving them a 31-13 lead with 3:34 left. (Another missed PAT.)
Rushing record: With Bishop Sankey’s 39th carry — and counting — he sets a UW record for carries in a game.
7:36 left: Marcus Peters interception ends Arizona drive. UW with ball and 12-point lead.
Fourth quarter: Has just begun. Washington up, 25-13, and 15 minutes away from 4-0.
3rd/1:25 Suddenly it’s a track meet as the Huskies answer the Arizona answer. UW goes 90 yards in 10 plays. The big one was a 51 yard pass to Kevin Smith, who just blew past the secondary. The score came on a short dive by Sankey. UW, 25-13.
18-13 Arizona answers with a long drive of their own,cutting UW lead to 18-13.
3rd/10:19UW goes 14 plays, 95 yards to take 18-6 lead. TD came on 1-yard pass from Price to ASJ. Huskies made good use of their starpower: Price, Sankey, Williams, ASJ. And — whadayaknow — the PAT is good.
Halftime: Arizona scores on thrid and goal from the two with seconds left in half. PAT missed. It’s UW 11, UA 6.
2nd/14:11: UW adds 42-yard field goal to go up, 11-0.
End of first quarter: Washington 8, Arizona 0. Rain and wind just off the charts. Stats here. No Arizona first downs in the quarter.
1st/0:22 Huskies go up, 8-0, as high snap on UA punt attempt from end zone results in safety.
Kickoff: We’re under way. Rainy. Lots of empty seats. Arizona receives. Sean Parker third-down interception. Four plays later UW goes up, 6-0 on Price-to-Smith TD. Bad snap on botched PAT. I’ll keep scoring updates and other highlights here. Running stats available at uw.statbroadcast.com.
Uni watch: Looks like Wildcats are wearing red helmets, white jerseys, red pants. Huskies wearing shiny gold helmets, purple jerseys and purple pants.
Pregame: It is a cloudy, windy and sometimes rainy day at Husky Stadium, where 16th-ranked UW will puts its unbeaten record against Arizona, unranked but also 3-0.
We’ll be back here with events as they unfolk. Until then, here’s the preview story from this morning’s TNT.