Sept. 12, 2009
SEATTLE (AP) - Getting coach Steve Sarkisian doused with ice water after his first victory was already being taken care of by their teammates. So Washington's Jake Locker and Quinton Richardson decided after 15 straight losses this celebration needed a little something special.
They herded their teammates off the field and over to the track where they danced, sang and reveled in finally ending the longest losing streak in the nation while the band played "Bow Down to Washington" and the lingering crowd stood applauding in appreciation.
"These kids were as low as low could get when I took this job," Sarkisian said. "It's been a long time and it's nice to feel victory, to relish victory, to smile after a game."
Using his arm far more than his feet, Locker completed 17 of 25 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns as the Huskies beat Idaho 42-23 Saturday afternoon for their first win in nearly two calendar years.
The last time Washington was able to celebrate like this came on Nov. 17, 2007 when they rumbled past California 37-23.
Since that afternoon 22 months ago, Washington became an abyss of disgruntled fans angry with fourth-quarter failures, embarrassing blowouts and most of all last year's 0-12 stain on the Huskies record under former coach Tyrone Willingham that no one will forget.
All that made this post-game celebration so rewarding.
"When you just come off an 0-12 year and then you get really close in your season opener and you can feel the win and then you lose, it brings us kind of back to last year a little bit," safety Nate Williams said. "It made us work even harder ... and we finally got a win."
Washington efficiently put away the Vandals, scoring on its first five possessions - minus a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half - making up for a Huskies defense that Idaho (1-1) showed continues to be leaky against the pass.
Locker tossed touchdowns of 24, 31 and 4 yards and added a 3-yard TD run, making certain the Huskies wouldn't be sole owners of the longest losing streak in Pac-10 history. Their 15-game skid matches streaks by Oregon State in 1990-91 and 1995-96.
For Locker, it was his first victory since Nov. 3, 2007 at Stanford, having missed the Huskies win two weeks later against California with an injury.
The junior quarterback looked just as comfortable throwing as he had in the past instantly taking off on the run when nothing developed. His best play came on Washington's opening drive when on third-and-14 Locker scrambled away from three potential sacks and fired a 35-yard completion to Goodwin inside the Idaho 10 setting up his TD run.
Locker was 6-for-6 on the Huskies next drive, capped by a perfect screen pass to Johri Fogerson for a 24-yard score. Late in the half, Locker got Idaho's safeties to bite on a play-action fake and finding James Johnson on a 31-yard TD pass and a 21-6 lead.
"It's great to be able to put (the streak) behind us and go forward now and have something to build off of," Locker said.
But Washington's defense showed it still has a long way to go in defending the pass, especially with USC coming to town next week. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt was so frustrated, he was regularly screaming, punching the air and walking all the way out to the numbers to yell at his defense.
Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle threw for 279 yards - part of the 349 total passing yards by the Vandals. But Idaho had to settle for field goals of 44, 28 and 34 yards by Trey Farquhar on three trips inside the Washington 20 in the first half.
"We moved the football pretty well and we'd get down to the red zone and kind of stall ourselves and didn't capitalize," Enderle said. "We could have had 12 more points in the first half alone if we would have just scored touchdowns and that's a huge swing."
Enderle then made his one crucial mistake on the first possession of the second half with the Vandals trailing 21-9.
After Washington's Curtis Shaw fumbled the second half kickoff and Idaho recovered, Enderle faced a third-and-4 at the Washington 25. Throwing toward the near sideline, Enderle's pass found the hands of linebacker Mason Foster, who returned the turnover 56 yards to the Idaho 21. Four plays later, and after Locker hit D'Andre Goodwin for 20 yards to the 1 on third down, Chris Polk plowed in for his first touchdown of the season.
The huge momentum shift only grew when Idaho went three-and-out on its next possession and Locker needed just two plays to make it 35-9 on his 2-yard TD pass to Chris Izbicki.
"Everybody deserves it. I'm just happy for everybody. This is a great feeling to win finally," Foster said. "I think this is only the beginning."
The Vandals ended up out-gaining Washington 412 to 374, but were hampered by eight penalties and an inability to get Washington off the field. The Huskies were 11 of 14 on third down.
Idaho's touchdowns came on runs of 4 and 6 yards by De'Maundray Woolridge, the second score coming with 13 seconds left.
"We had too many opportunities that we left out there on the field to make it a better ball game and give ourselves an opportunity to win," Idaho coach Robb Akey said.