Huskies rebound from being routed at Louisiana State by pounding an overmatched squad.
After being blown out on the Bayou — and with Stanford on the horizon — this was what the Washington Huskies needed.
Portland State was scheduled as the gimme win on this year’s schedule, and the game served its purpose as the Huskies used a flurry of first-half big plays to rout the Vikings 52-13 in front of 54,922 at CenturyLink Field.
UW led 45-0 at halftime, tying its record for the most points in a half, scoring 28 in a span of 5:50 early in the second quarter to end the suspense early.
“This is kind of what we envisioned for the game,” said senior safety Justin Glenn, whose recovery of an onside kick by Portland State on the opening kickoff help set the tone. “We knew that this was going to be on us, and about us doing the right things and playing the way that we like to play. I think it’s definitely a step in the direction that we wanted to head.”
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And the blowout win — the widest margin of victory for the Huskies since a 53-3 win over Idaho in 2001 — also helped officially put last week’s 41-3 loss at Louisiana State in the rearview mirror.
“When you have a week like we had last week, you can get a little tentative and gun-shy and concerned about the way you are playing the game,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. “And I thought our guys came out with a great deal of energy and great execution to start the ballgame.”
It started with the first play, when Glenn noticed that Portland State’s kickoff team was shifting in a manner it hadn’t shown on film.
“I knew something was up,” Glenn said.
Glenn recovered the kick and a Portland State penalty moved the ball to the Vikings 46, from where UW needed just four plays to score on a 15-yard Bishop Sankey run — Washington’s first offensive touchdown in seven quarters, since the first quarter of the opener against San Diego State.
After a Portland State three-and-out and a 20-yard Marvin Hall punt return, the Huskies needed just two plays to drive 35 yards and take a 14-0 lead on the first of three touchdown passes by Keith Price.
Price completed 14 of 19 for 181 yards and left after the first series of the third quarter with UW ahead 52-0 in what was his best performance of the season.
“I thought Keith was extremely efficient,” Sarkisian said.
A 3-yard Price pass to Kasen Williams early in the second quarter — on a drive keyed by a successful fake punt — made it 21-0.
And then the Vikings — a member of the FCS Big Sky Conference — came apart. Some leaky blocking allowed Shaq Thompson to block a field goal that was returned 79 yards for a score by Tre Watson to make it 28-0.
A few minutes later, Austin Seferian-Jenkins scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-0. And on Portland State’s next possession, an ill-advised pass by quarterback Keiran McDonagh was easily intercepted by Marcus Peters and returned 21 yards for another score.
“It’s good for the guys, and I think we are going to build off of that,” said Glenn.
Still, while the first half appeared nearly flawless on the scoreboard, Sarkisian was far from happy as it ended.
Travis Coons kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 45-0 with three seconds left. On the ensuing kickoff, Glenn was flagged for a personal foul for hitting returner Justin Lilley late.
That, coupled with a flag on Sione Potoa’e for taunting following the Peters interception, had Sarkisian steaming. As the half ended, he called for the team to kneel around him and he lit into his players for a good minute or two.
“That’s just not us,” Sarkisian said. “I wanted to make sure we didn’t accept that.”
Glenn called his hit “a dumb play” and said “Coach Sark got on us a little bit, let us know how he was feeling, and then we got back at it.”
With UW subbing liberally, the second half turned a little sloppy. The Huskies did not score once Price departed, and the Vikings tacked on a couple of touchdowns to snap the shutout.
Portland State coach Nigel Burton, who played safety at UW from 1996 to 1998, said he was glad his team kept playing hard to the end, though he was far from satisfied, despite the long odds of a win for any FCS team going against one from the FBS.
“We had some opportunities to make some plays here and there, but credit goes to them,” Burton said. “They did a nice job defensively.”
When it was over, UW had completed its nonconference schedule 2-1. Now comes a 12-day wait to open Pac-12 play on Thursday, Sept. 27, against Stanford.
The Cardinal has beaten UW by a combined 105 points the last three seasons.
“We needed some confidence heading into a big game like this,” Price said. “I think our offense got rolling, and we’ve just got to make sure we sustain it.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org