SEATTLE — University of Washington senior cornerback Kevin King had the game’s individual highlight with a remarkable interception early in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game against Arizona State.
On a third-and-7 play from the UW 10-yard line, Sun Devil quarterback Manny Wilkins tried to connect with wide receiver N’Keal Harry in the left corner of the end zone. Keeping his body between the receiver and the ball, King leaped to make a one-handed catch with his right hand, then cradled the ball to his chest and dragged a toe in the end zone before tumbling out of bounds to complete the interception.
It was a terrific display of athleticism, hand-eye coordination and field awareness, all in the space of barely a second.
“I’ve dreamed about making plays like that, so to me I’ve done it already,” King said with a grin after the game. “But I was glad to get (an interception) in my final game here.”
His teammates were in awe of the play, which will no doubt show up on TV sports highlight shows in the coming days.
“That’s one of the best interceptions I’ve seen or been a part of,” said UW safety Budda Baker. “That was beautiful.”
“I’ve seen (King) do that same play a few times before, but he didn’t come down with the ball,” added linebacker Keishawn Bierria. “And I remember telling him, ‘If you can one-hand those, man, do it.’ And he said, ‘I’m going to get one.’ … That was amazing, man. That was first-round (NFL Draft) material right there.”
Van Winkle milestone
With three field goals and five extra points, place-kicker Cameron Van Winkle raised his career points total to 304 and became only the third player in UW history to score 300 points in a career, with ex-UW kickers Jeff Jaeger (380) and John Anderson (363) being the others.
Van Winkle also reached 100 points in a season for the second time in his career and becomes the first Husky in history to do so. Van Winkle, who had 107 points in 2014, reached 100 with a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Saturday’s game was the final Husky Stadium appearance for 13 UW seniors who were honored in a pregame ceremony.
The departing UW seniors are defensive backs Brandon Beaver, Hayden Schuh and King, linebackers JoJo Mathis and Psalm Wooching, defensive lineman Damion Turpin, wide receiver Drew Before, tight ends Darrell Daniels and Jeff Lindquist, offensive linemen Jake Eldrenkamp, Michael Kneip and Shank Brostek, and place-kicker Cameron Van Winkle.
The players were introduced individually before the game and were greeted near the UW sideline by family members.
Mathis was the only senior not in uniform. He last played in an Oct. 9 game at Oregon and has since been sidelined with a foot injury that required surgery. Mathis made his way out from the UW tunnel with a knee scooter.
Washington’s defense, down two starters with recent injuries to linebackers Azeem Victor and Mathis, was also missing safety JoJo McIntosh against the Sun Devils. McIntosh, who sat out with an undisclosed injury, was replaced in the starting lineup by Ezekiel Turner.
“We hope (McIntosh) will be ready (for Friday’s Apple Cup),” UW coach Chris Petersen said.
Victor, who was injured in last week’s game against USC, was replaced in that game and in Saturday’s starting lineup by D.J. Beavers.
Pass rush returns
Washington’s dormant pass rush came back to life Saturday.
Ever since leading edge rusher Mathis was lost for the season because of a foot injury, the Huskies have struggled getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, as in the previous four games Washington managed a total of four sacks.
But the pressure was back on against Arizona State as the Huskies recorded six sacks, led by reserve linebacker Tevis Bartlett’s two and Baker’s 1.5. Admittedly, it was against a Sun Devils team that came into the game ranked 121st out 128 FBS teams in sacks allowed per game, including giving up 11 against Utah last week. But it was still a sign of progress for Washington.
“We brought maybe a little more pressure,” Petersen said. “I think the guys did a great job of pushing the pocket, condensing it. The combination of those two things probably allowed us to get more pressure than we had in the past.”