It’s not basketball.
But Washington’s ball movement was something to behold.
Leading 7-0 with 3:03 left in the first quarter on Saturday, Michael Penix Jr. took a shotgun blast and put receiver Jalen McMillan on a late round. McMillan sidelined fellow receiver Ja’Lynn Polk, who sent him back to Penix on standby. The red-shirted junior picked up the ball on the Colorado 42-yard line and sent a pass to McMillan along the left sideline.
That’s when the second wide receiver got to work.
With a fleet of blockers in front, McMillan raced to the 18-yard line, where 325-pound defensive tackle Jalen Sami tripped over a teammate attempting the tackle. McMillan cut inside and pivoted at 6, bouncing off dipping defensive backs Nikko Reed and Tyrin Taylor. The Safety Jeremy Mack froze in place at 2, as if operated by a video game controller with a bad battery.
One hand, two full-backs, one pass, three missed tackles, 27 yards out and 12 seconds later McMillan trotted nonchalantly into the end zone – leaving a trail of wreckage behind.
“It was time to get back to that (play),” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said after Washington’s 54-7 win. “(UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb) was actually thinking about calling him right off the bat. But we were in the wrong place on the pitch. I was excited to see the guys (perform). There’s a lot of execution to that and a lot of ball handling. We just trust our capable guys to do it, and J-Mac I think has done a terrific job of making some guys miss it.
Added McMillan, who led the Huskies with eight catches for 98 yards and a score (as well as 31 yards on punt returns): “Grubb has the weirdest plays, but they’re awesome. They are so much fun to run.
So it was in Washington’s 54-7 win over Colorado, a glorified Pac-12 workout sandwiched between Husky rivalry games. Fresh off a legendary performance in the 37-34 road win at Oregon, Penix completed 16 of 27 passes and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown in a pro effort. Sophomore Dylan Morris added 66 passing yards, 32 rushing yards and a 15-yard touchdown to relief running back Sam Adams II.
But aside from one particularly memorable game, the Husky racing game dominated the day.
Senior Wayne Taulapapa – who excelled in tough circumstances, with three former Virginia teammates shot and killed on Sunday – rushed for 107 yards, 9.7 yards rushing and two touchdowns, with a 57-yard sprint almost giving another score. Sophomore Cameron Davis added 59 yards rushing, 4.9 yards rushing and two touchdowns to his own — including a third-quarter somersault in the end zone. Junior Richard Newton also contributed 21 yards and a 2-yard touchdown in cleanup work.
“We go back and forth. Every time I see Wayne have a good run, I’m like, ‘I gotta do the same,'” said Davis, who leads the Huskies with 13 rushing touchdowns. “I guess we feed off each other a lot.”
On senior day, the Huskies produced half a basketball score — and Colorado’s not-so-special teams certainly helped. A second-quarter snap sailed over punter Trent Carrizosa’s head and into the end zone for a Husky safety. The Buffs also missed a punt, which immediately prompted a 33-yard field goal from Peyton Henry to close the half with a 33-0 lead.
Speaking of …
It’s not basketball.
But the Buffaloes couldn’t defend the 3.
With that semi-final placement, Henry – a sixth-year senior, who played his final game inside Husky Stadium on Saturday – surpassed Jeff Jaeger’s 380 career points to become the all-time leading scorer. from UW. The Danville, Calif., product and former walker recorded one field goal (while missing a 49-yard run) and six extra points, sitting at 384 points with two (or three?) games to go.
Granted, it wasn’t a perfect performance. UW’s tackle is still suspect, and Colorado running back Alex Fontenot totaled 6.7 yards per carry in the loss. True freshman corner Jaivion Green also misjudged a floating deep ball, driving a 69-yard touchdown from Colorado quarterback JT Shrout to Montana wide receiver Lemonious-Craig. In the third quarter, Taulapapa was stoned on the fourth and 1 goal to lead to a rare turnover on the downs. And after replacing Penix, sophomore Dylan Morris threw a tough interception that snapped the normally reliable hands of Jack Westover.
But the positives outweighed everything else. After the verdict was long overdue, redshirt freshman Maurice Heims snatched his first career sacking and safety Makell Esteen added an interception. UW wrapped up an unbeaten 7-0 sprint inside Husky Stadium by amassing 280 yards rushing, 6.5 yards rushing and five touchdowns in a dominating display.
Moreover, a healthy Penix only played two and a half quarters.
Who tells you everything you need to know.
And, speaking of which, you probably know what comes next. At 9-2, No. 15 Washington will travel to meet Washington State 7-4 next weekend in an increasingly important Apple Cup. Bragging rights in the state and positioning of the bowl will be at stake.
On Saturday, UW actually dove into Colorado.
It won’t be so easy this time next week.
“There are two games that I know all circles in the Husky Nation every year,” DeBoer said, referring to UW’s rivalries with Washington State and Oregon. “We are really looking forward to a great week. We play for many things. It’s not just this trophy.
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