SEATTLE — Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said this week would be a healing process for his wounded Washington Huskies, who had taken their mental and physical lumps following a whitewashing at LSU in Week 2.
Consider them temporarily cleansed.
Washington pummeled FCS member Portland State 52-13 on a sunny Saturday at CenturyLink Field in front of 54,922 to move to 2-1 with a bye week awaiting to get healthy and, it hopes, further get right.
“This is definitely good to get the bad taste out of your mouth,” quarterback Keith Price said.
Little went wrong for the Washington starters Saturday. The Huskies scored 45 points in the first half, tying a school record set against Northwestern in 1980 and then tied against Oregon State in 1999. They also set a school-record for points in a quarter with 31 in the second. Washington scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, piling up a lead that allowed Price to play one series in the second half before begrudgingly coming out of the game with his team ahead 52-0.
Bishop Sankey became the first Huskies running back to gain more than 100 yards this season. He finished with 103 on 14 carries, a one-week cure for a fledgling running game. The Huskies even pulled off a fake punt when Travis Coons lofted a 16-yard completion to safety Sean Parker on fourth-and-four from the Portland State 48-yard line to keep a drive alive in the first quarter.
Portland State (1-2) lost the coin toss and most competitions thereafter. The Vikings’ onside kick attempt to open the game failed when Washington safety Justin Glenn, a Kamiak High grad, recovered. Keeping within their aggressive, almost desperate approach, Portland State twice went for it on fourth down in Huskies’ territory in the first quarter. Neither effort worked.
Sankey started the scoring when he ran in from 15 yards out for a 7-0 lead just 1:27 into the game. DiAndre Campbell pulled in a 20-yard pass from Price 2:18 later for his first college touchdown. Kasen Williams was next on Price’s hit list for a 3-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to make it 21-0 Washington. Price completed 14 of 19 passes in the game for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Shaq Thompson, who had expansive impact Saturday with a team-leading seven tackles, blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt and cornerback Tre Watson corralled the ball then zipped 79 yards for a touchdown, 28-0.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price to hike the lead to 35-0, cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted Portland State quarterback Kieran McDonagh for a 21-yard touchdown and Coons hit a 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the half for a 45-0 lead.
Then, Sarkisian screamed at his team. Following Glenn’s personal foul on the kickoff return after the field goal and an earlier unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sione Potoa’e after Peters’ touchdown, Sarkisian huddled the Huskies around him on the sideline prior to heading off for the half. He ranted and spiked his beloved visor. Lacking a punt of the headwear, Sarkisian’s tirade fell just short of what Mariners’ fans came to know and love from former manager Lou Piniella.
“I think we still showed some immaturity that needs to get better,” Sarkisian said. “That’s why we had a pretty good heart-to-heart there at the end of the first half.”
The second half was an extended audition for backup players. Second-string quarterback Derrick Brown took over for Price after one series in the third quarter and went 2-for-5 for 23 yards. He also was intercepted.
Running backs Dezden Petty and Erich Wilson II spearheaded the running game as Washington tried to wind down the clock without applying undue embarrassment to Portland State. Petty carried 16 times for 62 yards, and Wilson II added 15 carries for 75 yards on the day.
Washington’s ability to gain 240 rushing yards after compiling 132 in the first two games was part improvement, circumstance and opposition.
“I want to run the ball just like everybody else, but ultimately I want to win,” Sarkisian said. “If that means we need to throw it to win certain games, that’s what we’re going to do. The emphasis wasn’t primarily on running the football, it was about executing and doing everything right.”
Washington was able to do it without two key linemen, Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa, who were not in uniform Saturday.
Now, 21st-ranked Stanford, a decidedly different beast from Big Sky Conference member Portland State, looms Sept. 27 to open Pac-12 play following the bye week.
“It’s good to see those big plays, those explosive plays,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “We’re getting better and we’re getting a rhythm, that’s the good thing about this.”
Good enough for a week of purification.