CORVALLIS, Ore. — UW football fans were subjected to a re-run on Saturday night.
For better, or for worse.
In a 27-24 loss at Oregon State, UW’s run defense wore down — again. Trailing 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter, Beav running back B.J. Baylor bounded through a hole for a game-tying 27-yard score. And after a Dylan Morris quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Washington 46-yard line fell short, Oregon State ran for 38 more yards on its next five plays — setting up a game-winning 24-yard field goal as time expired.
In all, Baylor amassed 111 rushing yards, with 5.6 yards per carry and a pair of scores. When UW needed a stop, it got more of the same.
“I just think we missed some fits, and we have to go back and fix it,” said inside linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio, who led the Huskies with 16 tackles. “I think our coaches had a great plan, and we just made too many mistakes. That’s on us. We can’t give up as many yards as we did. We had a great opportunity, and they scored by running the ball, which is unacceptable.”
On the subject of “unacceptable,” Washington’s offense soared, then stagnated — again. This time, the Huskies opened with a convincing touchdown drive (just as they did against Montana). Morris completed all four of his passes, the last of which went for a 44-yard score to senior wide receiver Terrell Bynum.
The Huskies proceeded to produce, in order: a three-and-out, a lost fumble, a three-and-out, an interception, a three-and out, a field goal, a three-and-out and a punt. Their once promising offense fell flat (just as it did against Cal).
“Honestly, I think it was just not executing plays,” said UW running back Sean McGrew. “We were shooting ourselves in our foot. Honestly, it didn’t feel like they were stopping us. We were stopping ourselves.”
But not all UW deja vu was negative. From the wildcat formation, McGrew scored — again (and again). Early in the fourth quarter, he took a direct snap, busted through a hole and tip-toed along the sideline to tie the game at 17-17 with a 39-yard score.
McGrew finished with 104 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry and two more touchdowns — his third consecutive game with a pair of scores.
“We ran wildcat on a couple drives before that, and the last guy made the tackle on me, and I felt like I should have been able to break one more tackle and I’d be out (in open space). That’s what I did on that play,” McGrew said of the 39-yard score.
After McGrew’s first touchdown trot, Faatui Tuitele made an impact — again. The redshirt freshman defensive lineman produced a strip-sack for the second time in his last three games, dragging down Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan and dislodging the ball. Sam “Taki” Taimani recovered and rumbled to the Beav 6-yard line. On the next play, McGrew took yet another wildcat snap and scored from six yards out … thanks, in part, to 330-pound right guard Henry Bainivalu, who carried him across the line.
“We were talking on the sidelines, because we were kind of stagnant for a bit. We were saying, ‘Just keep doing your job, and it’s all going to break open eventually. And it did,” Ulofoshio said of Tuitele’s forced fumble. “It didn’t surprise me at all. That’s just the game of football. You’ve just got to keep doing your job, and eventually something’s going to break.”
But, unfortunately for fans, UW’s run defense remains broken. Oregon State barely bothered to attempt a pass (same as Michigan), with quarterback Chance Nolan completing just seven of 15 passes for 48 yards and an Asa Turner interception. The Huskies struggled to contain a running quarterback (just as they did against Cal), and Jack Colletto thundered around the right edge for a 3-yard score early in the second quarter as well.
After flashing early, Morris surrendered an untimely interception — again. Trailing 14-7 midway through the second quarter, the redshirt freshman was pressured into delivering a pass right to linebacker Avery Roberts at the Beav 42-yard line, snuffing out an otherwise promising drive. It was Morris’ sixth interception in just five games this season. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night.
As for the critical failed quarterback sneak, Lake maintains that Morris deserved better.
“We have been 100% on that all year long — that play,” Lake said. “We felt good about that play. We’ve converted on that quarterback sneak all year long and even last year. We still felt really good about where Dylan was (after the play). We felt like he got pulled back a little bit (by the defense after being down).
“But any time we’re fourth-and-1 and we can go behind our offensive line with Dylan, we always feel that we can get that yard. Unfortunately, with the spot, they marked us short. But we’re going for that every single time.”
For long stretches, wildcat aside, UW struggled to establish a running game — again. The early exception was a 12-play, 68-yard drive at the end of the first half that included 55 rushing yards from sixth-year senior Kamari Pleasant. And even then, the Huskies stalled at the 2-yard line, when Morris threw wide of Bynum on third-and-goal and UW settled for a 20-yard Peyton Henry field goal.
Oh, and speaking of familiar failures: remember when Husky long snapper Jaden Green sailed a snap over the head of punter Race Porter in last season’s installment against Oregon State? The pair nearly produced a similar feat on Saturday, as Porter dropped a snap in the second quarter … only to gather it, sidestep Beav defenders and produce a miraculous punt that was downed on the Oregon State 12-yard line.
After it was over, fireworks exploded inside Reser Stadium, and waves of students hopped over the barricade along the end zone. They gathered with their Beavs in the middle of the field, climbing atop shoulders, jumping and shouting and hugging — as the Huskies sauntered up the side tunnel and out of sight.
For the first time in its last 10 tries, Oregon State topped Washington on Saturday night.
When it comes to the result, Lake and Co. would have preferred a re-run.