Casey Paus was the UW quarterback the last time the Huskies beat the Ducks — 2003 — and he wants nothing more than to lose that “distinction” when the two Pac-12 rivals face each other on Saturday.

Share story

Let’s start by noting he would prefer to be but a side note in the annals of the Washington-Oregon rivalry, not the answer to a bittersweet trivia question that looms large this week:

Who was the quarterback who led the Huskies to their last victory over the Ducks?

The answer, as unlikely then as it is now, is Casey Paus — and he would like nothing more than for that bit of trivia to become obsolete Saturday night when the Huskies look to end their 11-year losing skid to their most hated rival.

“I am enjoying the flak I get from friends about this,” Paus said this week, “but it’s not a record or recognition I want to hold on to.”

Paus, 32, has settled in Lynnwood, where he works in medical-equipment sales and has three children — Preston, 5, Dylan, 3, and Lincoln, 1 — with his wife, Nicole, a former UW soccer player. Casey and Nicole will be at Husky Stadium on Saturday night for the homecoming game, and he has a good feeling about this one against the Ducks.

Others do, too. For the first time since 2003, the Huskies are the betting favorite over Oregon.

“Hopefully,” Paus said, “we just put a whooping on them.”

He has before.

In 2003, Paus was a sophomore backup to senior star Cody Pickett, who had already established himself as the most prolific passer in UW history by the time Oregon came to Seattle for their Nov. 1 matchup. The buildup to that game was the most intense it’s been in recent memory in this rivalry.

The year before, in Eugene, the Huskies rolled to a 42-14 victory and then danced on the Autzen Stadium “O” at midfield. Keith Gilbertson was UW’s offensive coordinator in 2002.

“What took place after that game, it was a shame. The rivalry was heated enough,” Gilbertson said.

The following year, the Ducks promised revenge. Oregon safety Keith Lewis predicted a Ducks victory and vowed to dance on the Husky Stadium “W” afterward, words that rang through the UW locker room all week. The pregame atmosphere was as fiery as any Gilbertson could recall, and there was a brief melee during the game involving Lewis and UW left tackle Khalif Barnes.

“I could almost not keep our guys back in warmups it was so intense,” said Gilbertson, who had taken over as head coach for the fired Rick Neuheisel in the summer of 2003. “That rivalry, that game, let me tell you, it was intense. That was a big deal to Huskies.”

Oregon took a 10-7 lead into halftime and, worse for the Huskies, Pickett had suffered a concussion in the first half. Enter Paus, who had attempted just eight passes in his UW career before then.

“It was a blessing and a curse getting thrust in under those unforeseen circumstances,” Paus said. “There just wasn’t really time to think or dwell or get nervous. It was just, ‘Hey, kid, it’s your time.’ ”

Two days before the game, offensive coordinator John Pettas had been charged with running the most important team meeting of the week, a task that rotated among coaches each Thursday. The meeting almost always evolved into a big rah-rah speech, and Pettas had his planned perfectly. At the end of his presentation, Pettas walked across a stage and toward a closet in the team meeting room, from which he pulled out a shotgun. “It’s (expletive) Duck-hunting season!” he yelled.

“As you can imagine,” Paus said, “everyone went nuts. The room just exploded.”

The same thing happened on the field in the second half. The Huskies scored 35 unanswered points, one of the great blitzkriegs in the history of the 115-year-old rivalry, and again rolled to a blowout victory, 42-10.

Along the way, Paus threw his first career touchdown pass to Charles Frederick, of 10 yards. After Frederick dropped the ball in the end zone, the young quarterback quickly went and scooped it up and handed it to an official, not wanting his team to get penalized.

Someone on the UW sideline got ahold of that ball and later presented it to Paus, who still has it on a shelf in his house.

Paus added a second touchdown on a 63-yard pass to Reggie Williams on a play in which Paus had recognized an Oregon blitz and called an audible. Paus remembers running wildly down the field in celebration, his arms raised high, as Williams headed into the end zone.

Two other unexpected heroes emerged that game for UW, with freshman Shelton Sampson (134) and Kenny James (104) each rushing for more than 100 yards.

“It never crossed my mind that we weren’t going to win,” Paus said. “At that time, we had the swagger in that rivalry.”

After Pickett graduated, Paus won the starting job in 2004 but struggled. He led the team in total offense, but threw 17 interceptions, and after another coaching change, he spent his senior season in 2005 as a backup.

That things turned so far south in the UW-Oregon rivalry has been just as frustrating and puzzling for those Huskies. Gilbertson, at least, sees hope on the horizon.

“Chris Petersen and his staff are really fine coaches, and they’re going to make this a rivalry again. I promise you,” said Gilbertson, now part of the KOMO Newsradio pregame show. “It’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out rivalry again, but they’re going to do it the right way. No one’s going to be stomping on the ‘O’ or stomping on the ‘W.’ It’s going to be done the right way, like it was for so long.”

Note

• Sophomore tight end David Ajamu will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, Petersen said Thursday. Ajamu, out of Shelton High School, suffered the injury during warmups before the Huskies’ upset of USC last week. He had started two games this season for UW.

Since 2003 …
Washington and Oregon have played 11 times since the Huskies’ last win over the Ducks, and Oregon has won all of them by an average of 25.4 points.
Year Location Result
2004 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 31-6
2005 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 45-21
2006 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 34-14
2007 Seattle Oregon, 55-34
2008 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 44-10
2009 Seattle Oregon, 43-19
2010 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 53-16
2011 Seattle Oregon, 34-17
2012 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 52-21
2013 Seattle Oregon, 45-24
2014 Eugene, Ore. Oregon, 45-20