Keith Price breaks the Washington record for career TD passes in a 300-yard night, Bishop Sankey rolls for 161 yards rushing, the defense rises up, and new, $280 million Husky Stadium rocks in UW’s 38-6 victory.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Husky Stadium isn’t just brand new.
It’s GRAND new.
And so is this UW season.
Keith Price completed 23 of 31 passes for 324 yards and two second-half touchdowns that broke the Washington career record for touchdown passes. It was his first 300-yard game since out-playing Robert Griffin III in the 2011 Alamo Bowl.
Bishop Sankey romped for 161 yards on 25 carries and two more scores, his eighth career 100-yard rushing game and fifth in six starts.
And the Huskies’ defense swarmed quarterback Joe Southwick and Boise State’s offense. Defensive backs jumped receivers’ routes and batted down balls in flight. Linebackers and defensive ends stuffed a fourth-and-1 run.
No wonder the sellout crowd of 71,963 rocked the new, $280 million place throughout Washington’s 38-6 pounding of the No. 19 Broncos on an unforgettable Saturday night on Montlake Boulevard.
“It’s loud,” Price said of his new home palace, standing inside the team tunnel immediately after his and his team’s remarkable retaking of Montlake.
His grin was as wide as the margin of this rousing, resounding victory. Price was so into the stunningly successful night, he didn’t realize he had thrown for 300 yards until informed in that tunnel after the game.
The night was even more idyllic for the Huskies than the 75-degree Seattle sunset to the west, and 300 boats sail-gating just beyond the opposite, east end of the remade stadium.
“It was crazy,” sophomore linebacker Shaq Thompson said of the scene.
He had nine tackles and was all over the field with linebacker John Timu, who had a game-high 13 stops.
It was the first time since 1997 that Boise State failed to score touchdown. Jim Lambright was still Washington’s coach then.
This was the Broncos’ worst loss of the Chris Petersen head-coaching era, and worst overall since Boise State got whacked at Georgia to begin 2005. That was Tyrone Willingham’s first season at UW.
Deontae Cooper got six carries for eight yards in his collegiate debut that’d been delayed for three years by three torn anterior cruciate ligaments in as many summers. Cooper, playing in front of his father – his inspiration – and his stepmother up from southern California, got his first carry early in the second quarter. And it was a crowd-favorite moment, drawing huge roars among the whopping 54 carries for 268 yards UW had while steamrolling an exhausted Boise State defense with a supersonic, no-huddle offense.
"What I dreamed about didn't add up,” Cooper said of his debut and the entire, unforgettable scene. “Sold-out stadium. 70,000 in stands. What a blessing."
And to think: This 32-point thrashing came without preseason All-America tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He was serving what coach Steve Sarkisian later acknowledged as an “internal” punishment.
Sarkisian said Seferian-Jenkins, who had surgery two weeks ago to put in pin in his broken right pinkie finger, will play in two weeks when Washington (1-0) faces Illinois in Chicago’s Soldier Field after this coming week’s bye.
“Once he gets back,” Price said, “it’s going to be kind of scary.”
Washington had three trips inside the Boise State 13 in the first half and a huge edge in total yardage. But the Huskies led only 10-3.
“I was a little disheartened that we only had 10 points,” Sarkisian said.
“But we didn’t panic. We came in at halftime and said, ‘Let’s stick with what we’re doing.’”
In other words – as the black, team T-shirts say – “FINISH.”
They sure did that.
Price exquisitely placed a back-shoulder throw that Kasen Williams, quiet in the first half with just one catch and three targets, turned into a 37-yard catch and run. Then Price threw his 55th career touchdown pass to Williams early in the third quarter on a perfectly thrown pass on the junior wide out’s fade route to the end zone.
Then UW’s Josh Shirley and Thompson stopped Boise State’s Jay Ajayi on the Huskies 35 for no gain on fourth and 1. That proved to be the Broncos’ last chance to stay in the game.
“I thought we started fast – and stayed fast,” Thompson said.
On the ensuing drive Price expertly escaped a rush with a perfectly timed pump fake. Then he rolled left and hit Joshua Perkins in stride as he cut across the back of the end zone from 18 yards out.
The Huskies led 24-6. And the Retake Montlake party was on.
After his 56th career touchdown pass broke the UW record of Cody Pickett he had tied earlier in the third quarter, Price gave six fist pumps at his team’s sideline. It was if he was pulling on the horn of a train.
A runaway one.
Perkins, a converted wide receiver, was breaking free in the back of the end zone as Price was extending the play because Seferian-Jenkins was out.
What a time for Perkins’ first career catch – let alone with first career touchdown – and only catch of the game. It put UW up 18 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
“Man,” Perkins said, “that was so much fun. That was the most fun I’ve ever had as a football player.
“I had a big celebration planned and everything (for his first TD), running around the end zone. But I was too excited.”
Price is now the most prolific touchdown maker the Huskies have ever had at quarterback. More than his quarterbacks coach, Marques Tuiasosopo. More than Mark Brunell, Saturday night’s Husky Legend who flew in for the game from Jacksonville, Fla., where he is now a high-school coach. More than Brock Huard, Damon Huard, Jake Locker or anyone else who’s played the position in 121 years of Husky football.
And that humbles him.
“Man, it’s crazy. It’s crazy,” said the recipient of Sarkisian’s first recruiting call the day the coach took over at UW in January 2009. “I remember coming in here, and now being mentioned among the best to ever play here, it’s an honor. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
The Huskies went to halftime not proud as much as angry – ticked at feeling they should have been leading by more than 10-3.
They had a 313-165 edge in total yardage. They had 19 first downs, ran for 120 yards and were inside Boise State’s 13-yard line three times in the break-neck first half.
Yet a fourth-and-1 run by backup running back Dwayne Washington lost 3 yards to end one deep UW threat. And Price’s third-and-5 pass to Williams went off the leading receiver’s hands at the Boise State 8 the play before Travis Coons’ 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
So the Huskies had to settle with the one-touchdown lead at the break.
Price threw an interception near midfield on his first pass, a forced throw into coverage to Williams. The fifth-year senior responded by completing 9 of his next 10 throws – and 16 of his final 22 of the first half.
Sankey, last season’s out-of-nowhere, 1,400-yard rusher, had 86 yards on 16 carries in the first half.
Sarkisian had hoped his new, ultra-fast, no-huddle offense could get in 80-plus plays per game this season. It ran a whopping 52 plays in that frenetic first half. It ended up running 85 plays, and that was after letting up late in the rout to drain the clock. Even with the milking at the end, it was the most plays run since 2007 in a victory over Stanford.
The Huskies out-gained Boise State 592-346 overall, and finished with a punishing, 268 yards rushing to avenge December’s 28-26 loss to the Broncos in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Afterward, Sarkisian told his players not to get too high.
He also praised them for blocking out all the wild hoopla all around them inside the sold-out, rocking stadium from pregame through the final, decisive moments of a night these Huskies and 70,000 of their closest friends will remember for a long time.
“I’m proud,” Sarkisian said, “of our guys’ focus.”