Pettis bobbled the catch initially — oops — but recovered nicely, cut straight up the middle of the field, hopped over a would-be tackler and raced to the left sideline, scoring rather easily to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter.

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Oops, he did it again.

Dante Pettis saved the Huskies again in a way only he can, returning a punt 61 yards for a touchdown to salvage what was an otherwise forgettable first half for No. 8 Washington against Rutgers on Friday night.

The play, though, began in near disaster.

Lined up at the Rutgers’ 45-yard line before the snap, Pettis had to backtrack some 15 yards to field the ball from Scartlet Knights punter Ryan Anderson, who had boomed the kick some 70 yards from the back of his end zone.

Pettis bobbled the catch initially — oops — but recovered nicely, cut straight up the middle of the field, hopped over a would-be tackler and raced to the left sideline, scoring rather easily to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter.

“He’s got new tricks. He tried to fumble and then he picks it up and goes,” UW coach Chris Petersen teased. “No, he’s good. I mean, we didn’t know much about the (Rutgers) punter. We’d heard he had a big leg. Watched him in warmups — he had a big leg. I told Dante: ‘The good news is, you’re going to get a chance.’ Because sometimes those guys can outkick the coverage. We like that.”

It was Pettis’ sixth career punt-return touchdown, tying the decade-old Pac-12 record held by Cal’s DeSean Jackson.

“That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that,” Pettis said.

His last punt-return TD was his game-winning score late in the fourth quarter at Utah. This one came at just the right time too.

“My (blockers) just did a good job clearing out the middle,” Pettis said.

Pettis has returned a punt for a TD in each of the past three season openers. He did it at Boise State two years ago. He did it against Rutgers last year at Husky Stadium. And he did it again to Rutgers on Friday.

Pettis also set up UW’s first score (a Tristan Vizcaino field goal) late in the first quarter when he hauled in a 51-yard catch from Jake Browning.

Pettis, UW’s new No. 1 receiver, finished with three catches for a game-high 85 yards.