Seattle, WA – The Washington Huskies (4-6, 3-4 Pac-12) fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-3, 5-2) 35-30 at home Saturday despite opening the game with a 14-0 advantage, capping perhaps the most tumultuous week thus far in a disappointing 2021 campaign.
Playing without head coach Jimmy Lake due to a one-game suspension resulting from a sideline incident in last week’s matchup with Oregon, the Huskies looked poised to control the Sun Devils early.
After taking the opening kickoff, Washington marched down the field on eight plays for 60 yards and punched in another opening-drive touchdown with a three-yard rushing score from running back Cameron Davis.
The Huskies defense forced a quick stop on Arizona State’s first possession. Then the offense went marching again, this time on an eight-play 67-yard drive finished off with a rushing touchdown from quarterback Dylan Morris to put Washington up 14 with just over five minutes left in the first.
Morris tallied 67 yards through the air on 7-of-9 attempts on the first two drives.
But Washington elected to replace Morris with Sam Huard on their 3rd offensive possession and quickly lost all momentum offensively, punting on the next three drives.
After the game, interim head coach Bob Gregory made it clear that the Huskies had planned to mix in the two quarterbacks throughout the game coming into the day.
“We wanted to give Sam some touches, which we did, which he deserves,” he said. “I am not an offensive genius all of a sudden with this interim deal. All it was, was ‘Hey, let’s try and get Sam in there, and that could give us a spark.”
Both defenses held firm through most of the second quarter, but the Sun Devils put themselves on the scoreboard with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jayden Daniels to Curtis Hodges with 46 seconds remaining. Washington managed a field goal as time expired to make it 17-7 at the half.
The teams traded punts to start the second half before the Huskies coughed up a fumble on an errant pitch, leading to a Rachaad White rushing touchdown on the ensuing drive for Arizona State, putting them within three points.
With a Jayden Daniels interception, snatched by Alex Cook, the Huskies finally found a spark and leveraged it on the way to a 9-play scoring drive capped by a 1-yard rush from Kamari Pleasant to extend their lead to 24-14.
In the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils found a way to show that they were the better team overall.
They decimated most of the quarter with a 20-play, 9-minute scoring drive to get within three again, trailing 21-24. Then Sun Devils defense held the Huskies to a three-and-out, giving the offense a chance to drive again for the lead.
With eight plays and another Rachaad White rushing touchdown, this time from 10 yards out, Arizona State took control 28-24.
The dagger would come on the drive for the Huskies with a pick-six from Morris to Sun Devils linebacker Merlin Robertson, who returned the interception 37 yards to extend the lead to 35-24.
To their credit, the Huskies rallied and found a way to score off of three passes from Morris on the next drive, two of them for 20 or more yards, including a 2-yard passing touchdown to tight end Devin Culp with three seconds remaining in the game, but the final burst came too late.
Morris finished the game with 151 yards and the lone touchdown on 16-of-28 passing along with 12 yards rushing and a score on the ground, while Daniels gave the Sun Devils a balanced performance with 90 yards passing and a touchdown on 10-of-16 attempts plus another 83 yards rushing and a score on 15 carries.
Rachaad White dominated the game on the ground, leading both teams with 190 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
“Honestly, that’s probably the best win in my life,” White said after the game. “When we hit adversity, we attack it better.”
Arizona State travels to Corvallis next week to take on the Oregon State Beavers (6-4, 4-3) as they look to remain in contention for the Pac-12 South title.
Washington, meanwhile, heads to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes (3-7, 2-5) in a must-win contest as they’ll need victories in both of their remaining games to achieve bowl eligibility.