By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Heading into the home stretch of its 2013 regular season, the University of Washington football team was looking to build confidence and momentum on Saturday night against a struggling Colorado team.
The Huskies did all of that and more.
With an offense that could not be stopped — Washington achieved a football rarity, never punting in four quarters — and with a defense that chipped in two touchdowns, the Huskies buried the visiting Buffaloes, 59-7, on a cold, drippy night at Husky Stadium.
“This was a great start to the fourth quarter of our season,” said a pleased Steve Sarkisian, Washington’s head coach. “I thought all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) performed really well.
“If I could’ve written a script for us tonight … it went about as good as it could’ve,” he added.
Washington was led by the offensive tandem of quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey. Price was 22-for-29 for 312 yards and touchdowns, and also had seven carries for 29 yards and two more TDs. All of his statistics, except for a 4-yard touchdown run, came in the first half.
With the game comfortably in hand, in fact, the Huskies did not attempt a pass in the final two quarters.
Sankey, meanwhile, carried 23 times for 143 yards and one touchdown. Like Price, most of Sankey’s totals came in the first half.
Washington’s offense was relentless against a Colorado defense that has been pummeled this season, giving up 44 or more points in five previous Pacific-12 Conference games, and 54 or more in two league games. Every Washington offensive possession ended with points except two, with both coming on fourth-down stops by the Buffaloes — and the latter came with Washington taking a knee near the Colorado goal line in the game’s final seconds.
Washington’s defensive highlights came in the third quarter, with cornerback Tre Watson snagging a tipped pass and sprinting 84 yards for a touchdown. Later in the period, cornerback Marcus Peters picked up a fumble — teammate Josh Shirley caused the turnover with a jarring hit — and dashed 53 yards to the end zone.
The Huskies also got an interception from safety Sean Parker in the third period.
“In the third quarter, creating those three turnovers was big,” Sarkisian said. “That was one of the things we emphasized coming out of the bye week, and then we get three turnovers and two of them go for touchdowns. So that was fantastic for the guys.”
Of primary importance to the Huskies, Saturday’s victory improved the team’s season record to 6-3 with three games to play, making them eligible for a postseason game for the fourth straight season.
Being bowl “is awesome,” freshman wide receiver John Ross said. “Especially for the young guys on the team, it’s going to be a huge experience. It’s like getting extra benefits after the season.”
But in the meantime the Huskies have a short week of practice before heading to Los Angeles for a Friday night game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
“We’re going down to play a really talented UCLA team, a very well coached team on Friday night in a game that is pivotal for our season,” Sarkisian said.
“UCLA is an excellent football team, and it’s going to take our A game,” Price said. “We’re going to have to be focused and we’re going to have to finish strong. This is the time of year where you kind of find out what kind of team you have, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”