Struggles in the first half by Troy Williams hampered any hopes of revenge.
Former Washington quarterback Troy Williams, donned in a red jersey, stood at midfield surrounded by a small group of opposing players dressed in white and posed for a photo.
Williams had thrown a desperation pass just moments prior, a heave out of the end zone on fourth-and-15 that fell incomplete, sending his Utes to a 31-24 loss and a bevy of his former Washington teammates to a hard-earned road victory.
“We just came one play short,” Williams said after the game. “I feel like that’s all it came down to. We’re all blessed to be in this situation, win or lose, we’re blessed to be here playing this game of football, and I was just happy to be out there with my brothers on both teams and competing against them.”
Williams wasn’t shy earlier this week about referencing seeking redemption at perceived disrespect by his former program before he transferred from UW in 2014.
But struggles in the first half hampered any hopes of revenge. The Utes quarterback completed only 5 of 15 passes for 25 yards in the first half, appearing to be dealing with excited energy from the very first snap.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Williams was “amped up,” but said he didn’t think it impacted the opening half.
“I don’t think it was to the point where it was affecting his play, at least I didn’t sense that,” Whittingham said. “I could be wrong, but I didn’t sense playing outside the framework of the offense.”
Williams’ first pass attempt of the game was knocked down by Washington linebacker Keishawn Bierria — his former roommate, childhood friend and high-school teammate.
His struggles continued on the opening drive, throwing two near-interceptions on consecutive plays to Budda Baker and Jojo McIntosh.
But in the second half, Williams got into a rhythm and found far more success against a stingy Huskies secondary. He completed 14 of 31 overall attempts in the game with two second-half touchdowns, the first a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Siaosi Wilson in the corner of the end zone to take a 17-14 lead in the middle of the third quarter.
Williams then led the Utes on a seven play, 75-yard drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Moeai to tie the score at 24-24 with 9:07 left in the fourth quarter.
“Nothing really changed, I just stuck with the plan,” Williams said. “It seemed like everything started working more in the second half. I just kept a level head, just took it one play at a time.”
While Troy Williams struggled in the first half, the Utes instead went through recently un-retired running back Joe Williams, who was coming off a 332-yard, four-touchdown display against UCLA last week.
After giving up only 145 yards per game to opposing rushers this season, Washington allowed Joe Williams to rumble for 173 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries.
A line of Huskies formed after the game to shake Troy Williams’ hand and exchange a few words with a guy many of them shared practices and games with two years ago.
The Utes quarterback was deferential in his postgame comments, referencing that his new team might have another shot at the old in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
“At the end of the day, those guys are my brothers for life, just like these guys are my brothers for life. I have a lot of brothers,” Williams said. “It was great to see them after the game. It was nothing personal, it was all love. I want them to continue to win out, and we’ll see them again.”