Washington kicked a late field goal to beat the No. 3-ranked Trojans
The easy story line is that the student beat the teacher.
What Washington Huskies fans care about more is that their team is unmistakably back after a shocking 16-13 win over the No. 3-rated USC Trojans Saturday in front of 61,889 at Husky Stadium.
Washington got the winning points with three seconds left on a 22-yard field goal by Erik Folk sending the crowd into delirium and the fans into a mad rush onto the field once the final seconds ticked off.
Washington had gone 0-12 last season, has beaten only one ranked team since the 2003 Apple Cup, had lost 10 straight Pac-10 games and had lost 15 in a row before beating Idaho last week.
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But the Huskies showed just how much progress they have made under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian, the former USC assistant who can now claim what few other coaches can — a winning record against Pete Carroll, the man Sarkisian has consistently called “my mentor.”
It was the first meeting between Carroll and Sarkisian, who took over as UW’s coach in December. Sarkisian spent seven years working for Carroll as an assistant at USC, the last three as offensive coordinator.
And this was old-time Huskies football, the type Sarkisian promised to bring back, as UW held the Trojans to just three points the final 49 minutes, grinding out maybe the biggest win for the program since the 2001 Rose Bowl.
USC had won the past seven meetings against the Huskies by an average score of 40-16, including a 56-0 victory in Los Angeles last year five days after it was announced that Tyrone Willingham had been fired.
The USC offense went stagnant after scoring on its first two drives with redshirt sophomore quarterback Aaron Corp unable to mount much of a passing attack. Corp got the first start of his career in place of injured freshman Matt Barkley. Carroll tried to play coy with the decision all week, never announcing Corp as the starter.
The Huskies took a 13-10 lead with 9:53 to play on a 46-yard field goal by Folk, the longest of his career. It came after a drive typical of UW on this day — 33 yards on 11 plays chewing up 4:28 — as UW wasn’t flashy but managed the game well, keeping the USC offense off the field and not making mistakes.
The lead held until the 4:07 mark when USC’s Jordan Congdon kicked a 25-yard field goal to tie it at 13-13.
The Huskies had managed to keep the Trojans out of the end zone after USC had moved quickly to the 11. That, too, was typical of UW’s play on this day as its bend-but-don’t-break defense worked perfectly.
The Huskies then drove 63 yards in 10 plays in 3:58 to set up the winning kick by Folk.
The key play of the winning drive came when Washington quarterback Jake Locker dropped back and hit Jermaine Kearse over the middle for a 21-yard gain on third down, to move the ball to the 46. Locker had been sacked for a loss of 12 on first down.
Locker then picked up another third down with a 4-yard run to put the Huskies at the USC 39 with just more than a minute to play.
Then a 19-yard pass to Kearse and a personal foul on USC for roughing the passer moved the ball to the Trojans’ 8-yard line.
The winning kicked was snapped with seven seconds left and went through with three.
The game was tied 10-10 at halftime, the Trojans hurting themselves with numerous mistakes, as they had in a close call here in 2007 and in some of their other losses to Pac-10 teams the past few years.
The Trojans fumbled the ball away at the UW 26 to end one promising drive, and failed to get a field goal off in time to end the first half as time ran out.
Washington linebacker Donald Butler made the key play on the last drive of the first half, tackling Stanley Havili behind the line to prevent a first down, and the Trojans then couldn’t get the ball snapped to get the field goal.
The Trojans looked dominant early, scoring the first two times they had the ball on drives of 80 and 68 yards.
After USC had taken a 10-0 lead, Locker expertly led an eight-play, 68-yard drive, completing all four passes for 60 yards, including a 16-yarder to freshman James Johnson on a third-and-6 to keep the chains moving.
Locker capped the drive with a 4-yard run up the middle to make it 10-7 with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Trojans then went scoreless in the second quarter despite twice driving inside the UW 30. The first drive ended on a fumble at the UW 26 by Stafon Johnson after he had picked up nine yards on a fourth-and-1. He was hit hard by UW linebacker Mason Foster and lost the ball, with Justin Glenn recovering. The other unfilled drive came at the end of the half.
In between, the Huskies controlled the action, holding USC to consecutive three-and-outs.
The Huskies tied the score on a 28-yard field goal by Folk with 4:09 left in the half on a drive kept alive by a personal foul by USC’s Eversen Griffen when he hit Locker late after an incomplete pass on third down.
The Huskies thought they might have a TD when Kavario Middleton caught the ball near the goal line on a third down play but it was ruled he had gone out of bounds before re-entering the field, which nullified the catch.
The Trojans had a chance to take the lead on their first possession of the second half, moving to the UW 12. But a holding penalty first stalled the drive and then it ended with Havili fumbled on a third-down reception. UW took over at its 16.
After the Huskies were held, USC again appeared on the verge of taking the lead, moving to the 22. But on a second-down play a pass by Corp into double coverage was intercepted by Donald Butler at the 23.
The third quarter ended with the teams still locked in a 10-10 tie, setting up the incredible ending.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.