Nov. 17, 2012
|Washington 38, Colorado 3
Saturday, Nov. 17 | Boulder, Colo. | Folsom Field
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
BOULDER, Colo. - It became a purple-and-gold rampage in the Rockies.
But only after Kevin Smith made one of Washington's most amazing plays in years.
"That," co-captain and safety Justin Glenn said afterward, "was ridiculous."
"One for the ages," coach Steve Sarkisian added.
The Huskies were slogging through an ugly, 7-0 game early in the third quarter Saturday at Colorado. They had just gotten, um, "motivated" by Sarkisian at halftime for lacking energy and hustle amid a slew of penalties and mistakes that kept ruining drives.
After yet another flag ruined another UW drive, one of the most popular and energetic Dawgs still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear last December was in his usual fourth-down role racing downfield as an outside punt gunner. Smith saw Travis Coons' punt bounce then deflect off a Buffaloes' blocker and veer toward the Colorado sideline. Smith knew it was a live ball. He sprinted to it, toed the sideline then flipped the ball back into the field of play behind him -- while lunging head first through the Buffs' bench into the Folsom Field crowd.
With Smith in Row 2, Will Shamburger recovered his basketball-like saved fumble at the CU 35. Three plays later, Keith Price threw 17 yards to Kasen Williams for one of the quarterback's record-tying five touchdown passes.
The Huskies scored two TDs in 2½ minutes after Smith's turning-point heroics. They then ran through, over and around the trampled Buffaloes 38-3 for their fourth consecutive victory.
"All effort, right there ... I was in the stands," Smith said. "Smart play."
Glenn was down with Smith covering the punt. The senior stopped a few yards from his teammate thinking the play was ending because the ball was going out of bounds.
Then Smith U-turned the ball - and the game - following through on his coach's halftime demand for more energy.
"The awareness, just throwing it back," Glenn said. "That was just crazy."
The rest of the day was Dawggone fun.
Price, suddenly peerless again, completed 22 of 29 passes for 248 yards. His five scoring throws tied Huskies single-game record set by Chris Rowland in 1973 against California and equaled by Jake Locker in 2010 against Oregon State.
Do-everything Austin Seferian-Jenkins set the Huskies' record for career touchdown catches by a tight end (11) with an exquisite, toe-tapping grab inside the back line of the end zone. He even recovered a fumble as a defensive end to set up another score in the third quarter.
And, oh, yeah, 1,000-yard rusher Bishop Sankey romped to another 100-yard day. The sophomore, who began fall camp as the No. 3 tailback then passed 1,000 yards rushing last week, ran for 139 more on 23 carries.
The Huskies (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) won their fourth consecutive regular-season game for the first time since beginning 2001 4-0.
Sure, it was wayward Colorado (1-10, 1-7) that had five three-and-outs on offense and didn't cross midfield until the third quarter was half over. But the Huskies' defense has given up 17 points to then-No. 7 Oregon State, 13 at California, 15 to Utah, and now three points in this winning streak.
Saturday was the fewest points Washington had allowed on the road since Nov. 18, 2000, in a 51-3 Apple Cup victory at Washington State.
"I think we're understanding what our identity is more and more, week in and week out. And we are going confidence," Sarkisian said. "When the defense is playing the way we've been playing it, you believe on defense that you are going to get those stops. Offensively you understand you can rely and count on the defense. You don't have to try too hard. You can take care of the ball a little bit better.
"We know what we are about. We are not in the locker room acting like we won the Super Bowl. This is what we came here to do, win the game. We did it. On to the next one."
That's Friday at WSU (0-8, 2-9). A win in the Apple Cup and bowl-bound UW has its first eight-win season since 2001.
Seferian-Jenkins made his debut as a pass-rush defensive end because of injuries last week in rout of Utah. Saturday, he pulled a nifty move on an offensive tackle - and spun right into a fumble by Jordan Webb caused when UW's Josh Shirley smacked into Colorado's replacement quarterback.
When was the last time a Husky recovered a fumble while rushing the quarterback -- then caught a touchdown pass in the same game?
"Yeah, I put on a little spin move," Seferian-Jenkins said of his defensive skills. "Then I saw the ball and I had to grab it."
His recovery set up Price's third touchdown pass of the first 36 minutes, 23 yards on Kendyl Taylor on a catch and run. That made it 21-0 Dawgs.
After the team's traded field goals, Seferian-Jenkins got his UW record-setting 11th touchdown catch while back in his regular job as a tight end. That put the huskies up 31-3 five minutes into the fourth quarter, and it was exquisite. Price stood in against an all-out Buffs blitz and threw while getting drilled in the chest. Seferian-Jenkins leaped, reached his 6-foot-6 frame to the lofted ball and then poetically toed the back line of the end zone for the score.
"That's Keith," ASJ said. "I saw him get blasted. I was like, `Oh, man, that has to hurt. I better catch this.'"
Price had 10 turnovers in the three-game losing streak that ended with a loss at Arizona Oct. 20. The 2011 record setter was frustrated then, but vowed to rebound.
Since then he has turned the ball over just twice in four games, all wins, while throwing for eight touchdowns and running for a ninth.
"I told you guys then that it was coming," Price said.
"And this wasn't even one of my better games. You saw Sark wasn't too happy with me today."
After a rare morning kickoff Washington moved into Colorado territory three times in the first half. It had a 190-71 edge in total yards in the first half -- yet led only 7-0.
That lone touchdown Price's 3-yard pass to Cody Bruns with 1:02 left in the half, after Sankey bolted for a first down on fourth and 1 from the Colorado 40. Bruns, the fifth-year senior who began his UW career with an 0-12 season in 2008 and took a redshirt year in 2011 after his father died suddenly, took the ball at the 2 and dived across the goal line even though no Buffaloes defender was near.
Why? Because it was his first career touchdown catch.
"I wanted to be SURE," Bruns said with a huge grin of his first score since he was starring at Prosser, Wash., High School.
"I'm proud of him. He's been through a lot here," Price said. "He thanked me for the pass.
"I thanked him."
Yet Sankey fumbled inside the CU 5, and the Huskies had other first-half drives ruined by flags galore. Offensive pass interference. Holding. Illegal shifts. Seemingly most of what the Huskies did in the first two quarters set them back.
So, only 7-0 at halftime over a spiraling team that has beaten WSU and no one else this season.
"We were maybe our own worst enemy," Sarkisian said of the ugly half.
His message in the locker room was as clear as it was stern: "Play like you are capable of playing."
Sankey agreed his team's first half was "lackadaisical" and "lacking energy."
"Coach Sark, he has a good way of motivating us," he said with a wry smile. "It worked today."
Afterward, the visitors' locker room was quiet, almost business-like. It fit the suits-and-ties outfits Sarkisian had his players wear Friday for the second consecutive road trip.
It also fit the mentally of a team that has internalized Sark's favorite manta, the one painted on walls and printed on T-shirts and itineraries throughout the program.
"Expect to win."
"The goal is to win nine games, and we got number seven. We have one more to go to get to eight. That's all it's been about," Sarkisian said.
"Again, it was not a big celebration in there. It was pretty straightforward.
"I like these guys. I like them."