Nov. 3, 2007
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -Everything went so right for Louis Rankin that even his one big mistake didn't end up hurting Washington.
Rankin ran for 255 yards and a touchdown in the best performance by a Washington running back in 11 years, helping the Huskies avenge a humiliating loss to Stanford last year and win their first Pac-10 game this season, 27-9 over the Cardinal on Saturday.
"I have to run confident and hard when there's nobody there at all," Rankin said. "I have to hit it full speed because there wasn't really anybody around at all. It was wide open."
The only blunder for Rankin came when he lost a fumble at his own 1 in the second quarter with the Huskies (3-6, 1-5) leading 10-3. But Byron Davenport forced a fumble by Corey Gatewood and Mesphin Forrester recovered for Washington at the 1, preserving the lead and absolving Rankin for his mistake.
"It took a lot of pressure off me because I could have cost us the game right there," Rankin said. "The defense stepped up and made a big play and it came out well."
Rankin did the rest, carrying the ball 36 times to help the Huskies finish with a season-high 388 yards on the ground and snap a six-game losing streak. Rankin's total was the most for a Huskies back since Corey Dillon ran for 259 yards against Oregon in 1996 and fourth most since 1947.
Jake Locker also ran for two scores, set the Washington single-season rushing record for a quarterback, and even threw a key block on one long run by Rankin. But the Huskies mostly just handed the ball to Rankin.
"Our passing game wasn't gelling tonight like we wanted to," offensive coordinator Tom Lappano said. "With him running like that and we were handling them up front, we had a pretty good rhythm running. We wanted to stay with that."
A year ago, Stanford went to Washington winless and pulled off a 20-3 upset that cost the Huskies a chance at a bowl bid. This time, Washington played the role of spoiler, all but ending any hopes for the Cardinal (3-6, 2-4) to make a bowl game in coach Jim Harbaugh's first season on The Farm.
After allowing 147 points the past three weeks, the Huskies had six sacks and held the Cardinal to 253 yards.
"It was different this week," Davenport said. "Everyone was really focused, especially with the way the game went last year. We didn't want the same taste in our mouth as we had last year."
Stanford has won just once in four games since its shocking upset at Southern California last month and dropped to 1-10 in two years at its renovated stadium with no wins in eight conference games.
Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard left the game in the first quarter with an injured left shoulder and was replaced by T.C. Ostrander. Ostrander, who began the season as the starter, finished 16-for-28 for 133 yards.
"This is one of the most frustrating games I have ever played in," Ostrander said. "We killed ourselves with penalties and missed assignments and sloppiness in our play."
Locker finished with 97 yards rushing, giving him 791 to break the mark set by Dennis Fitzpatrick in 1974.
After Stanford cut Washington's lead to 13-9 on a 1-yard run by Tyrone McGraw late in the third quarter, Rankin helped the Huskies regain control. He had a 42-yard run on the ensuing drive and then scored from the 1 on the opening play of the fourth quarter to make it 20-9. Locker added a score in the closing minute.
"Everybody is really excited about the win today," Locker said. "It's been a long time coming. Anytime you can get a big win like this and get yourself going, it's emotional for the team."
Washington dominated the first half statistically, outgaining Stanford 303-156. But the Huskies only led 10-3 at the break.
Locker threw an interception deep in Stanford territory in the first quarter and an apparent touchdown was wiped out in the final minute of the half when the replay official ruled Anthony Russo did not hold onto a 23-yard pass from Locker. After a sack, Jared Ballman missed a 47-yard field goal.
The only touchdown of the half came on a 98-yard drive late in the first quarter. Locker completed a 26-yard pass to Russo on third-and-16 from the 8. Rankin followed with a 42-yard run and Locker capped the drive with a 17-yard scramble.
"We knew we had to stop two guys on offense," Stanford linebacker Pat Maynor said. "They beat is. It's pretty frustrating. But give them credit. They ran hard."