Washington junior Salvon Ahmed knew he would be counted on more than normal to carry the rushing load with two Husky running backs sidelined.
And he delivered, carrying the ball a career-high 24 times for 140 yards — the second most of his career.
But it wasn’t enough to keep Washington from losing 35-31 to Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium. In Ahmed’s eyes, without a win to show for it, his rushing totals felt empty.
“It doesn’t really mean anything because we didn’t win,” he said.
Washington was without Richard Newton (injured left foot) and Sean McGrew (undisclosed health reasons), so UW fed Ahmed early and often.
“It was definitely hard not having Sean and Rich — those guys are really good players for this team — but our running back room is full of guys who can contribute,” Ahmed said.
But it was Ahmed who shouldered the load. Kamari Pleasant and Cameron Davis, the other two running backs who played, had 15 combined yards on seven carries.
“He really stepped up with the other guys out, knowing he would need more carries,” UW coach Chris Petersen said of Ahmed.
Ahmed had 77 yards rushing in the first half, including a 9-yard touchdown run. He finished with 140 yards rushing and also caught four passes for 4 yards and had one kickoff return for 19 yards.
With the Huskies already ahead 21-14 at halftime, Ahmed sparked the UW offense in the second half, gashing the Ducks with runs of 20 yards and 8 yards on consecutive plays, before Jacob Eason connected with freshman receiver Puka Nacua for a 33-yard score. That put the Huskies in the driver’s seat, up 28-14.
Oregon entered the game allowing 107.5 yards rushing per game (3.1 yards per carry) and had only allowed one running back to reach 100 yards, with Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow rushing for 110 in the Ducks’ season-opening loss.
Despite those Oregon stats, Ahmed was not surprised by his success. He now has 662 yards rushing and has surpassed 100 rushing yards three times.
“We’ve got an amazing line that goes out and works every single down so it is up to us to see (the holes),” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said UW’s late-game offensive struggles were a byproduct of the Huskies not executing and not anything that the Ducks were doing defensively.
“We weren’t executing how we were supposed to,” Ahmed said. “That’s what it comes down to, just the details.”
And what will the Huskies do from here?
“We’ve got a bye week next and just overanalyze everything,” he said. “Go back and look at everything that we are doing on offense, and how we can be better for our team. No one likes to lose but you have to look back and see what you can do better. Take this as a lesson.”
Ahmed took some solace that there are still four regular-season games remaining for the Huskies, who fell to 5-3.
“There is a lot of football left, but this one definitely hurt,” he said.
And after touching the ball 29 times, the hurt was more than emotional.
“I am definitely a little sore, but I’ve got a bye week so I will be able to recover,” he said.