By Rich Myhre Herald Writers
SEATTLE — Friday’s game was Senior Day at Husky Stadium, with the University of Washington football team bidding farewell to 17 players making their final home appearances.
The UW seniors were introduced individually before the game and ran onto the field to greet family members assembled near midfield. The senior contingent included six starters vs. Washington State — linebacker Princeton Fuimaono, cornerback Gregory Ducre, safeties Will Shamburger and Sean Parker, wide receiver Kevin Smith and quarterback Keith Price.
The fifth-year seniors in the group, which includes Price, were part of the first recruiting class for UW head coach Steve Sarkisian after he was hired in December of 2008.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Sarkisian said after the game. “As I just got done telling them, they chose to come to the University of Washington when this might not have been the hottest school in our conference or in the nation. We were talking about getting a new stadium … and we were talking about where we were headed, and these guys chose to come here and they’ve put an investment into this program for the last four or five years.
“Their investment has paid off,” he said. “They’re walking out of here knowing that this football program is in a better place today than it was when they got here, and that’s a real credit to those guys. … (They) are the catalyst for what we’ve done here, and I’m glad they get to walk out of here as a winner their last time in Husky Stadium.”
It is possible the Huskies will say good-bye to other players as well. Running back Bishop Sankey and tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, both juniors, can enter the next NFL draft.
For those players, the decision process “starts Monday,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll put everything on the table about that.” Ultimately, he added, players such as Sankey and Sefarian-Jenkins will make “a very educated decision. … It’ll be very clear to them at the end whether to stay or to go.”
No question, the Huskies had last year’s 31-28 overtime loss at Washington State in mind Friday. That was, after all, a game in which Washington blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter, and then missed a 35-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
“During the week, we talked about what happened last year,” UW offensive tackle Micah Hatchie said. “We all talked about it and said, ‘This is our chance to redeem ourselves from what happened last year.’”
“We all had somewhat of a chip on our shoulders because of that,” defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha said.
Beating the Cougars on Friday was “like payback,” added safety Sean Parker.
After losing to WSU a year ago, the Huskies closed their season with a 28-26 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. UW coaches made sure the players remembered those two season-ending defeats by posting both scores in the team’s weight room.
“The whole offseason, we got reminded every day,” cornerback Marcus Peters said. “Every day we came in for offseason workouts and there were two banners up with the scores from Pullman and Las Vegas.”
Another big third quarter
Cumulatively, Washington has outscored its 12 opponents in every quarter this season. The most one-sided margin is in the third quarter, with the Huskies holding a 160-65 margin coming into Friday’s Apple Cup.
Washington then outscored Washington State 17-0 in the third period.
For the 11th time in 12 games this season, the Huskies took their opening possession of the second half and drove for a touchdown.
Ejection given, then rescinded
Washington linebacker John Timu nearly got an early exit from Friday’s game. Midway through the fourth quarter, he was flagged and initially ejected for a supposed helmet-to-helmet hit on WSU wide receiver Dom Williams.
The officials then went to a video review and the ejection was rescinded, though the personal-foul penalty — half the distance to the goal, putting the ball at the UW 9 — stood.
“Timu went in to make a hit on the ball, to jar the ball loose,” Sarkisian said. “He never led with his head. It wasn’t helmet-to-helmet contact, (though) that was the initial call.”
It was actually a shoulder-to-shoulder hit, Sarkisian said, “and I thought the officials did a nice job of going to review. Still ruling it a penalty, but not ejecting him.”
If there was a defensive hero for the Huskies on Saturday, it was Kikaha. He led the Huskies with 11 tackles, including eight solo tackles and two sacks for 20 yards.
It was the second Apple Cup game for Kikaha, who played vs. WSU as a true freshman in 2010. He then suffered a knee injury after four games in 2011 and missed all of last season after another knee injury.
“First and foremost, he’s obviously got talent and skill,” UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “But just the type of kid he is and the way he plays. He plays so hard and with such great effort. … You guys (in the media) ought to be talking to him right now.”
Nothing to kick about
UW place-kicker Travis Coons had a career-best 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, added a 39-yarder in the third quarter, and is 14-for-15 for the season. His only miss was a blocked attempt at UCLA.
Coons finished the regular season with a .933 percentage, the second-best mark in UW history. The best percentage was by Chuck Nelson, who was 25-for-26 (.962) in 1982.
Thompson sits out second half
UW linebacker Shaq Thompson had six tackles (five solo) and a near interception in the first half, but missed virtually all of the second half after suffering a concussion on the opening kickoff. It was the only UW injury mentioned by Sarkisian after the game.