For a while, it appeared as thought the Huskies would cruise to a win Saturday night. And then, for a while longer, it appeared as though Stanford’s winning streak on The Farm would remain intact. But in the end, Dylan Morris and a Husky offense that has struggled mightily this season came through when it mattered most.

In a season when not much has gone right, the Huskies came up with the big turnovers, the tenacious runs and ultimately, the clutch touchdown late to capture a 20-13 win over the Cardinal — their first at Stanford since 2007. 

That sound you’re hearing across Seattle is the collective exhale of Husky fans everywhere. For this week at least, UW fans can breathe again.

Here are impressions from the much-needed victory.

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Establish the run

The Huskies’ game plan was clear from the jump. Going against the Pac-12’s worst rush defense, UW pounded the rock early and often. Cam Davis and Sean McGrew paved the way in the first half for 17 rushes for 114 combined yards, as the Huskies were able to march down field consistently. UW finished with a season-high 229 rushing yards on 42 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per touch.

But as well as the rushing attack worked, the passing game was somewhat nonexistent — until the final drive. At halftime, Dylan Morris had completed 10 of 14 attempts for 70 yards as the Husky offense seemed content to win with paper cuts. The game plan was to kill Stanford with a hundred paper cuts until the final drive when they took out a sword and went for the kill shot. Instead of settling for a game-winning field goal attempt as time expired, Morris took the biggest shot of the evening and connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jalen McMillan in the back corner of the end zone, putting the Huskies up for good with just seconds remaining.

Twenty points against the Pac-12’s second worst defense isn’t ideal, but you can also look to the 375 yards, zero turnovers and three punts as signs of success for an offense that has been listless this season. 

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Missed opportunities

The Huskies looked and played like the better team on Saturday night. But that almost didn’t matter. 

They had their chances to put Stanford away. Instead, they kicked field goals. As Times reporter Mike Vorel tweeted, UW entered the game scoring touchdowns on 73.7% of its red-zone drives. On Saturday, they didn’t convert any of their first four red zone trips. Instead of touchdowns, it was the Peyton Henry show. Which is fine if you like watching field goals. 

Another massive missed opportunity allowed a Stanford drive to end in a touchdown instead of a turnover on downs. On a fourth-and-4 incompletion, Zion Tupuala-Fetui jumped offsides, giving the Cardinal a fresh set of downs, eventually ending in a McKee TD sneak.

And perhaps most crucially, UW couldn’t convert a fourth-and-inches at midfield up 2 with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter. The spot was questionable, but Morris’ sneak came up short and Stanford took the ball and the lead with a go-ahead 44-yard field goal. 

It can be forgiven because they won, but the Huskies have had trouble putting teams away when they’ve looked like the better team this year. And that hasn’t been often. Pac-12 games are hard enough to win on their own — UW needs to make it easier on themselves by taking the opportunities they’re given.

Hello, Carson Bruener

The star of the night entered Saturday with just a few snaps under his belt. But with linebackers Edefuan Ulofoshio and Ryan Bowman both out for the season, freshman Carson Bruener stepped up in a big way. The son of Husky legend Mark Bruener, Carson entered the game with 16 total tackles over three games. On Saturday, he notched 15 — doubling the second highest total of any Husky. He was seemingly in on every big play, including the aforementioned sack fumble. It was a welcome sight for the Huskies, who desperately needed a lift in their run defense.

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Turnover battle

In a rock fight like this one, you need to make a few plays to separate. The Huskies turned the game by turning the ball over — and catching a break on what was nearly a costly turnover. The Huskies forced three turnovers and didn’t lose the ball. Ultimately that was the difference on Saturday.

With the game tied at 3-3 and Stanford driving, UW’s Jackson Sirmon picked off a tipped Tanner McKee pass in the red zone, which led to a Husky field goal and a lead UW wouldn’t surrender. UW’s second turnover came in the third quarter as newly inserted linebacker Carson Bruener bolted in for a sack and a forced fumble, which was recovered by Sav’ell Smalls. UW went on to boot another field goal to take a 12-3 lead. The third — a Brendan Radley-Hiles pick on a Hail Mary — iced it.

On the flip side, UW tight end Cade Otton coughed up the ball on the Huskies’ final drive of the first half, but Stanford couldn’t wrangle the loose ball in bounds.

The game lacked splashy plays on offense, but credit to UW’s defense for coming up with the big plays they needed to clinch the road victory.