SEATTLE — Sean McGrew scored his second touchdown of the game in overtime, Washington’s defense forced California’s Damien Moore to fumble at the 1-yard line and the Huskies escaped with a 31-24 win over the Golden Bears on Saturday night.
The Pac-12 Conference opener ended after Washington linebacker Jackson Sirmon and defensive back Cameron Williams converged on Moore before he reached goal line. Moore was hit hard, the ball popped free and Ryan Bowman pounced on the loose ball, setting off a wild celebration that was briefly muted while the fumble was confirmed by video replay.
The 100th matchup between the schools was another wild conclusion to a series that has recently featured close games.
McGrew scored on a 5-yard run in the first half and his 2-yard run in overtime gave the Huskies (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) the lead. California (1-3, 0-1) looked poised to force a second OT, driving with ease to the Washington 2 before Moore’s turnover.
Washington’s Dylan Morris threw a pair of first-half touchdowns, but the Huskies will lament the fact the game ever got to overtime. They led 21-10 at halftime and ruined several chances in the second half to extend the lead, giving the Golden Bears a chance to rally.
California quarterback Chase Garbers was great in the second half, making just one mistake when he was intercepted by Archbishop Murphy graduate Kyler Gordon for the second time early in the fourth quarter. Washington failed to capitalize on the turnover and Garbers’ 7-yard run with 2:51 left tied the game at 24-all.
Garbers was 30-of-41 passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He also added another 71 yards rushing. Moore rushed for 67 yards and had a 26-yard TD catch midway through the third quarter.
Washington twice missed chances to extend the lead with a fumble and a missed field goal early in the fourth quarter and Garbers put together a late drive to pull the Bears even.
Garbers hit Jeremiah Hunter for 19 yards to convert one third-down and scrambled for 23 yards on another third-down to reach the Washington 11.
And on the last third-down of the drive, Garbers strolled into the end zone on a designed keeper to tie the game at 24-all with 2:51 left.
Morris threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Taj Davis and 6 yards to Jalen McMillan as part of an impressive first half. After going three-and-out on its opening possession, Washington scored touchdowns on its next three possessions of the half, capped by McGrew’s first TD run.
Washington was without three key starters. Tight end Cade Otton was in COVID-19 protocols and unable to play. Cornerback Trent McDuffie was out after appearing to suffer a leg injury last week against Arkansas State. Tight end Jack Westover was also out with an apparent injury.
California: The Golden Bears had been outscored 53-37 in the second half in their first three games so allowing only three points before overtime was a significant improvement.
Washington: Gordon will be near the top of the list for Pac-12 defensive player of the week. Along with the first two interceptions of his career, Gordon made a terrific tackle of Moore on fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter.