That Washington’s 41-17 win against Cal remained in doubt until running back Bishop Sankey shot for a 59-yard touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the first half was surprising, given how the 1-7 Golden Bears (0-5 Pac-12) looked utterly hopeless before Saturday night at Husky Stadium.
Their momentary show of competence, however, didn’t stop a UW rout.
The Huskies (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) effectively mixed run and pass in the first half for a 24-7 lead behind 50 plays totaling 373 yards, then sped away in a lopsided final 30 minutes.
Against a banged-up Cal defense that ranks near the bottom of the country in most every category, quarterback Keith Price — with a wrapped wrist rather than a taped thumb — rediscovered his deep touch with the ball. Sankey and the UW defense rebounded from a bad game at Arizona State, and the Huskies won convincingly.
The Huskies’ 643 yards of total offense was fifth-most in school history.
The UW returned to early season form, sans a stretch in the second quarter where four consecutive drives ended in a punt. The explosive plays coach Steve Sarkisian prides his offense on were almost constant.
- Following an opening three-and-out, a 53-yard punt by Cal’s Cole Leininger pinned the Huskies on their own three. They responded with the easiest 97-yard drive in recent memory, capping with a three-yard touchdown run from Sankey. Price showed no residual effect from the thumb injured Oct. 5 against Stanford, completing all six pass attempts, finding five receivers, all of which were in space, for 74 yards.
- Late in the first quarter, Sankey split the left side of the line, nearly outrunning the deep safety, but was knocked out of bounds after a 42-yard run. The Huskies’ offense couldn’t pick up another first down, settling instead for a career-best, 46-yard field goal from Travis Coons for a 10-0 lead.
- Facing third and 10 from the UW 32 with just under two minutes in the first quarter, Price reminded critics of his ability to stand in the pocket and fire deep, finding Jaydon Mickens for a 68-yard touchdown that drew the loudest cheer of the night from the 66,328 in attendance. Price finished the quarter eight of 11 for 150 yards and a touchdown.
- Cal responded by going 13 plays in 75 yards, capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Chris Harper at the 12:48 mark in the second quarter.
- The Golden Bears, trailing 17-7, had a chance to cut the lead to a single score midway through the second quarter, but a 35-yard run from Chris Harper on a double reverse was negated when two teammates committed blocking penalties, giving it second and 26. They punted two plays later.
- When Price on the opening drive found Mickens on a backside post for a 47-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 31-7, Cal’s fate was sealed. Coach Sonny Dykes’s team on the next possession squandered a chance to cut into the 24-point deficit when a fake field goal attempt was snuffed near the line of scrimmage. Any chance of a comeback was thwarted by a pass defense ranked last in the country (346.7 yards per game).
- The Price-to-Mickens connection remained potent late in the third quarter. On third and nine from their own 39, Price found the wide receiver down the right sideline for a 39-yard gain. The ensuing play, he hit Marvin Hall across the middle to take it down to the one before Price sneaked in the score, for a 38-7 lead.
- When Sankey went left, then cut sharply up the right for a 23-yard gain early in the fourth quarter, he hit 238 yards rushing. His career-best of 208 yards, achieved in a early-season win against Illinois, was topped. Six plays later, Travis Coons knocked in his second field goal, a 42-yarder, to give the Huskies a 41-10 advantage.
- WR Kasen Williams was forced to leave the game in the second quarter after he fell awkwardly following a leap as he came back for an under-thrown pass. Coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game that Williams was out for the season with a broken foot and will be “months” in rehab.
- Before Sarkisian pulled him in the fourth quarter, Sankey rushed 27 times for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Price finished 20 of 32 for 376 yards and two touchdowns, buoyed by long passing scores of 47 and 68 yards to Mickens.