Sept. 27, 2003
By Mason Kelley Special to GoHuskies.com
Seattle - Going into Saturday's game Stanford was billed as having one of the stingiest defenses against the run in the nation, allowing only 2.0 yards per game.
The Huskies came out passing and their timing just wasn't there.
As it has the past two weeks the running game and a few big plays, sparked by Rich Alexis, would get the Huskies going and propel Washington (3-1, 1-0) to a 28-17 victory over Stanford (2-1, 0-1) in the Huskies Pac-10 opener.
With 3:03 left in the first quarter Alexis took a handoff up the middle and had nothing but green turf in front of him as he took the ball 53 yards for the touchdown, tying the game at 7-7. He picked up 91 yards of his 134 yards in the first quarter.
"They just gave me a little crease and I took it from there," Alexis said. "All I had to do was run."
It was the second consecutive 100-yard game for Alexis, the first time since he did so in back-to-back games against UCLA and Washington State in 2000.
It wouldn't take long for the passing game to catch up. On Washington's first drive of the second quarter quarterback Cody Pickett hit a wide open Reggie Williams down the left sideline, which he would take 74 yards for the touchdown making the score 14-7.
"It was a hitch and go and I got a good ball from Cody," Williams said of the fifth time Pickett has hit Williams for a 70-plus-yard score. "The corner bit real hard and after that it was just me and the end zone."
By halftime the Huskies had totaled 126 yards on the ground, 122 more than Stanford had allowed in two games this season, and 155 through the air, but went into the half tied at 14.
Washington had a chance to take the lead before the half, but Pickett lost a fumble on Stanford's nine yard line.
Pickett, who threw his eighth 70-plus-yard pass in his career on Saturday, continues to pile on the already impressive record. No other Husky quarterback, that includes names like Mark Brunell, Warren Moon, Billy Joe Hobert and Sonny Sixkiller, has ever thrown more than two.
Williams and Pickett have hooked up for most of those long passes, but each player likes to give credit to the other.
"I don't know he just keeps giving me good balls and all I have to do is out run a couple of DB's," Williams said of his knack for making big plays.
"Reggie runs good routes and I just try to give him a good ball," Pickett said.
Pickett finished the game 20 of 33 for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
Stanford opened the second half with a 16 play 69 yard drive. The Cardinal had the ball first and goal at the Washington two-yard line. The Washington defense hit Stanford for losses on the next three plays holding Stanford to a field goal.
That defensive stand revived the crowd that had gone quiet after watching Stanford hold the ball for the first 6:58 of the half.
The defense and the crowd would ignite the offense on their next drive, which answered Stanford's field goal with a 5:26 drive of their own. It totaled 12 plays and 76 yards and was capped off by William's 6-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone, making the score 21-17 Washington.
"That was a big one, we really stepped it up," Derrick Johnson said. "We stopped them at the goal line and that just let them know that we are going to keep fighting and keep playing."
Johnson would put the game away with 2:32 to play, providing the third Washington big play of the game. He read the eyes of Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards perfectly taking the interception 36 yards for the touchdown. That score put the game out of reach.
"I made a play on the ball I saw him break out and I made a play for the ball," Johnson said. "It was a relief because we were trying to get off the field and give our offense the ball to run out the clock."
Washington came up with some big plays on Saturday leading to a big win in their first Pac-10 contest, but they don't want to start looking too far ahead.
"No matter how we can get it we want to get a win," Pickett of getting off to a good start in the Pac-10. "We didn't play as well as we wanted to. Our defense played great today, but our offense could play better. We will take the win and you have to get that first win to get started."
With a few more big plays on both offense and defense, along with some good overall play, look for the Huskies to continue to pick up wins in the Pac-10.