Oct. 16, 2010
By Gregg Bell UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Once again counted out, doubted and teetering, these resilient Huskies did it again.
Jake Locker threw a career-high five touchdown passes, four to Jermaine Kearse. Then linebacker Cort Dennison harassed Oregon State's Joe Halahuni into having the game-winning pass go off his chest in the end zone on a two-point conversion, and Washington outlasted the 24th-ranked Beavers 35-34 in two overtimes on a wild homecoming night at Husky Stadium.
The Huskies (3-3, 2-1 Pac-10) had lost six consecutive games to Oregon State (3-3, 2-1), then blew a 21-0 lead Saturday night.
Yet Locker and Kearse found a way - four of them - to improve Washington to 2-1 against ranked teams this season.
Chris Polk ran 25 times for 105 yards, while Locker completed 21 of 35 passes for 286 yards and had an interception. He and Kearse, who finished with nine receptions for 146 yards, had given Washington a 35-28 lead on the first possession of the second overtime with a 21-yard touchdown connection on 2nd and 17.
The Huskies then stormed the field thinking they had won the game, when a fourth-down pass by Oregon State fell incomplete in the end zone on the ensuing possession. But Washington's Desmond Trufant was flagged for grabbing the back of the intended receiver while the pass was in flight.
The Huskies then had to clear the field and watch Jacquizz Rodgers, who finished with 140 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries, run it in from 2 yards. That made it 35-34.
Oregon State coach Mike Reilly then called time out and decided to go for two points and the win, rather than kick a single extra point to force a third overtime. Ryan Katz's pass to Halahuni was onto the tight end's chest, but Dennison came over his back as the ball squirmed up his pads, away from his shoulder and onto the purple turf in the end zone.
The Huskies then ran crazed onto the field for a second time - this time victorious on the final play, just like two weeks ago at USC.
Locker found Kearse for a 17-yard touchdown pass on third down to force the second overtime. Oregon State had made it 28-21 on the initial possession of the extra period on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Katz to Rodgers.
Washington roared to the 21-point lead on three touchdown passes by Locker in the game's first 20 minutes. But Oregon State tied it with two quick touchdowns in the second quarter, and then a lightning-fast drive to start the second half.
The score stayed tied at 21 from there through the end of regulation, thanks to two interceptions in Washington territory thrown by Katz and Huskies kicker Erik Folk missing a 46-yard field goal wide left.
Locker showed from the first drive that he was far better physically than he was last weekend. His first pass was a deft bootleg outside, and he completed his first five throws from outside the pocket. He also ran three times for 19 yards early. That's as many quarterback runs as coach Steve Sarkisian called in all of last week's loss to Arizona State.
Locker had a bad head cold that left him short of breath then sustained a deep thigh bruise early against the Sun Devils. That limited him to just 6 rushing yards and only three called quarterback runs in the 24-14 defeat, which tied for the lowest scoring output in Sarkisian's two seasons at Washington.
The week before that, Locker was brilliant - perhaps better than he's ever been. He threw for 310 yards and ran for 110 more while determinedly leading Washington on its final, winning drive at USC.
Locker rolled out and found D'Andre Goodwin breaking across the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass 7 seconds into the second quarter. That put Washington up 14-0.
The Huskies stunningly led 21-0 just over 5 minutes later, when Jermaine Kearse broke past cornerback James Dockery on a post route. Locker's perfectly placed touch pass completed the 45-yard touchdown.
But not the game.
Oregon State suddenly woke up by giving the ball to Rodgers, who dashed and danced past flailing Huskies defenders. Rodgers' running led nine-play drive that ended with a 5-yard run by Beavers quarterback Ryan Katz.
Then Locker threw his first bad pass, a forced one on third down that Jordan Poyer intercepted at the UW 35. Rodgers turned that into a 21-14 game with four consecutive runs, the last one 6 yards for the touchdown, and the half ended with Oregon State having seized the game's momentum.
And the Beavers tied it on the first drive after the break. They got from their own 23 to the Huskies 37 in just two plays, then Rodgers just about walked in untouched from 4 yards to make it 21-21.
Oregon State could have taken the lead late in the third quarter, but Katz threw two interceptions. One was the first career one by UW's Nate Fellner, coming over the help with deep safety coverage in zone. Then Katz casually flipped a pass into the end zone that was way short of his receiver and into the arms of freshman Sean Parker for a touchback.
Washington was again without Devin Aguilar. One of Locker's favorite targets on third down missed his second consecutive game with a hip flexor.
Locker ran twice for 17 yards, then rolled out and threw a dart into the hands of Jermaine Kearse for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Huskies up 7-0 after one quarter. It could have been 14-0 had Locker not fumbled near the Oregon State 10 when he ran into teammate Goodwin during a promising scramble.
Still, it was the first time since the opener at Brigham Young that Washington had a lead in the first quarter.