Redshirt freshman Jake Locker threw for one score and ran for another as resurgent Washington held No. 22 Boise State scoreless in the second half of a 24-10 victory today, ending the longest winning streak in major college football at 14 games.
They want to be the new Huskies, but they also want to be like the old ones.
They want to forget their past, but remember the former glory of the program they represent.
Today, those goals came together as one to lift Washington to the most significant win of the Tyrone Willingham era, beating Boise State 24-10 in front of a reawakened Husky Stadium crowd of 70,045 and snap the Broncos’ 14-game winning streak, the longest in the nation.
It was the Huskies’ first win over a ranked team since 2003 and the first 2-0 start since 2001.
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They did it by revising a little of the Huskies of yore, with hard-hitting and opportunistic defense, while also reinventing themselves as a team that simply found a way to win.
“We’d [of] lost that game the last couple of years,” said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. “We’d found a way when we were struggling on offense and couldn’t get anything going, we’d have lost that.”
Instead, the Huskies made every big play they needed.
They held Boise State — a team that has scored 41.7 points per game since 1999 –scoreless on three drives inside the 33 in the final 20 minutes.
“We made a statement today that we can play defense,” said linebacker Dan Howell.
Washington forced four turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter in holding the Broncos to their lowest point total in the past 18 games.
And while the offense stagnated at times, it came through when it seemed to matter most.
“We have our swagger back,” said receiver Marcel Reece, who had a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter. “The Huskies are back. We are walking with our heads up and walking with a lot of confidence.”
Especially the defense, which has now allowed 22 points in two games, the lowest two-game total since 2002.
Quarterback Jake Locker, who shined early but then hit a few freshman lulls, stood up in the locker room and congratulated the defense.
“Our second half was nothing to be happy about,” Locker said of the offense. “But it’s a team game, and when we are struggling like that, to have them be able to pick us up speaks volumes for what kind of defense that is.”
Locker led a perfectly executed 78-yard drive to start the game, capping it with a 6-yard run to put UW ahead 7-0.
Then, following a Boise State fumble, the Huskies caught the Broncos off guard with a Boise State-like play. Running back Louis Rankin threw a 16-yard pass to Quintin Daniels on a halfback option to make it 14-0.
Boise State used a long pass to set up a 1-yard run by quarterback Taylor Tharp to make it 14-7 to end the first quarter. But UW came back, taking advantage of a Greyson Gunheim interception to set up Locker’s 58-yard pass to Reece. That made it 24-7 with 6:37 left in the second quarter and the offensive explosion most expected seemed to be on.
Boise State drove for a field goal to end the first half, but it could have been more. The Broncos had a first-and-goal at the 6 but couldn’t get it in, foreshadowing what was to come.
The Broncos again moved the ball in the second half, gaining 191 yards. But they couldn’t score.
A 51-yard field goal was blocked in the third quarter and another drive ended when Washington cornerback Roy Lewis picked off a pass at the UW 14 midway through the fourth quarer.
Still, with UW unable to move the ball consistently — five dropped passes and an off day from Rankin, who was struggling with a sprained ankle — Boise State had more opportunities.
One drive got to the 5-yard-line. But on fourth down with 4:10 left, Lewis stripped the ball from Austin Pettis in the end zone.
“We had a lot of chances,” said Boise State coach Chris Petersen. “We just could not capitalize on them.”
The final one came with just under three minutes left when UW rookie cornerback Vonzell McDowell Jr., burned on the long play that set up Boise State’s lone touchdown, picked off a pass at the 2.
“Today we showed ourselves that we can compete with anybody out there,” Lewis said. “We jelled together and had that chemistry that the great Husky defenses before us had. That’s kind of the model of this year, of going back and looking at those guys and how they played back in the day, in the golden ages of Husky football. We’ve adopted that mentality, that purple hurt mentality.”