Beavers spoil Nick Montana's debut as Huskies' starter.
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Austin Seferian-Jenkins offered no excuses.
“Just dropped the ball,” the Washington freshman tight end said of a third-quarter deep pass that had all the makings of a 78-yard go-ahead touchdown.
Instead, it slipped out of his hands. The play defined a day when the Huskies kept dropping the ball, literally and figuratively, at just about every key time. The result was a 38-21 Pac-12 football defeat to Oregon State in front of 42,766 at Reser Stadium.
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Seferian-Jenkins, who caught two touchdown passes early in the game, was far from the only one to blame.
Among other failings, the Huskies coughed up three turnovers, allowed Oregon State to convert 10 of 16 plays on third or fourth down, and gave up 484 total yards to a Beavers offense that came in ranked 10th in the Pac-12.
It added up to UW’s third straight defeat and fourth in five games overall following a 5-1 start.
“It was a frustrating, frustrating game,” said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. “So many opportunities to make plays and to get off the field defensively that didn’t happen. Some opportunities, obviously, offensively to create some big plays that could have potentially swung the game and gotten the momentum back in our favor that didn’t happen. I’m frustrated.”
He’s also hoping for a quick rebound before the Apple Cup on Saturday. Washington has clinched bowl eligibility, certain to fill one of the Pac-12’s seven guaranteed bowl slots.
Saturday, though, was hardly a bowl-worthy effort. It was disappointing day for the Huskies, except for a couple of early drives when they expertly used their running attack and short passing game to score 14 points behind first-time starting quarterback Nick Montana.
Montana, subbing for hobbled regular starter Keith Price, was 11-for-21 passing for 79 yards and two touchdowns, both short tosses to Seferian-Jenkins.
Price, though, was well enough to come off the bench and play a couple of series in the fourth quarter. And Washington seemed on the verge of pulling off an improbable comeback after Price threw a touchdown pass to close to 31-21 and the Huskies then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
On the next play from scrimmage, though, a Price pass to Kasen Williams was intercepted at the 1-yard line by Oregon State’s Ryan Murphy with 7:35 left.
“I actually thought Kasen caught the ball,” Price said. “I didn’t know. I thought it was a touchdown. We got the look that we wanted. I threw low so Kasen could get it. Unfortunately we didn’t get it. … If we get in the end zone, we win the game. I know our defense would have gotten a stop.”
Instead, UW allowed a 99-yard drive, keyed by a 52-yard pass out of the end zone from Sean Mannion to Markus Wheaton. The play was a fitting capper on another rough day for Washington’s defense.
Oregon State had scored 27 points combined in its last three games, losses to Utah, Stanford and California, and hadn’t gained more than 285 total yards.
But the Beavers, and Mannion in particular, did what they wanted most of the day against the Huskies. The redshirt freshman completed 26 of 37 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked only once.
“I thought we had opportunities to make a play, to knock a ball down, to make a tackle,” Sarkisian said. “And we didn’t make the play, unfortunately.”
Mannion threw each of his touchdown passes in the first half to allow Oregon State to keep up with UW’s early offensive onslaught. Washington used the running of Chris Polk to score on a 70-yard drive the first time it had the ball, and an 80-yard drive early in the second quarter. Polk had 57 yards on 12 carries in the first quarter as the Huskies tried to ease Montana into the game.
Mannion, though, led two long marches of his own, one following a Montana interception, and the Beavers led 17-14 at halftime.
Washington couldn’t capitalize on two Oregon State turnovers in the scoreless third quarter. Midway through the quarter, though, Montana scrambled and found Seferian-Jenkins shockingly alone down the sideline.
“Big players make big-time plays, and I didn’t make that play,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’m disappointed in myself, I let down my team and it’s really hard to deal with right now, but I’ve just got to move on.”
With the Apple Cup next Saturday, so do the Huskies.
“It’s disappointing it had to come out this way when you felt like we really had a chance, even with all the mistakes we had,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org