Portland State a fine elixir

Huskies 52, Vikings 13: Big Sky foe offers perfect cure for ailing UW offense

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comSeptember 16, 2012 

SEATTLE – Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said last week would be a healing process for his wounded Washington Huskies, who had taken their mental and physical lumps following a thumping at LSU in Week 2.

Consider the Huskies temporarily cleansed.

Washington pummeled Football Championship Subdivision member Portland State, 52-13, on Saturday at a sun-soaked CenturyLink Field in front of 54,922 to move to 2-1 with a bye week awaiting to get further healthy.

“This is definitely good to get the bad taste out of your mouth,” Huskies quarterback Keith Price said.

Little went wrong for the Washington starters. The Huskies tied a school record with 45 points in the first half, previously set against Northwestern in 1980 and tied against Oregon State in 1999. They also set a school record for points in a quarter, with 31 in the second. Washington scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, piling up a lead that allowed Price to play one series in the second half before leaving the game with his team ahead by 52.

Bishop Sankey became the first Huskies running back to gain more than 100 yards in a game this season, finishing with 103 yards on 14 carries, a one-week cure for a fledgling running game.

The Huskies even pulled off a fake punt when Travis Coons lofted a 16-yard completion to safety Sean Parker on a fourth-and-4 play from the Portland State 48 to keep a drive alive in the first quarter.

Portland State (1-2) lost the coin toss and most competitions thereafter. The Vikings opened the game with an onside kick, but Washington safety Justin Glenn recovered. Keeping within an aggressive, almost desperate approach, Portland State twice went for it on fourth down in the Huskies’ territory in the first quarter. Neither effort worked.

Sankey started the scoring when he ran in from 15 yards out 1 minute, 27 seconds into the game. The extra point made it 7-0. DiAndre Campbell pulled in a 20-yard pass from Price just over 2 minutes later for his first college touchdown.

Kasen Williams was next on Price’s list for a 3-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to make it 21-0.

Shaq Thompson, who had a team-leading seven tackles, blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt and cornerback Tre Watson corralled the ball and zipped 79 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-0, still in the second quarter.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price to hike the lead to 35-0.

Cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted Portland State quarterback Kieran McDonagh for a 21-yard touchdown and Coons hit a 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the half for a 45-0 lead.

Then, Sarkisian screamed at his team.

Following a personal foul call on Glenn during the ensuing kickoff return and an earlier unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sione Potoa’e after Peters’ touchdown, Sarkisian huddled the Huskies around him on the sideline prior to heading off for the half. He ranted and spiked his visor. Lacking a punt of the headwear, the rant fell just short of a full Lou Piniella.

“I think we still showed some immaturity that needs to get better,” Sarkisian said. “That’s why we had a pretty good heart-to-heart there at the end of the first half.”

The second half was an extended audition for backup players. Second-string quarterback Derrick Brown took over for Price after one series in the third quarter and went 2-for-5 passing for 23 yards. He was also intercepted. Price completed 14 of 19 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.

Running backs Dezden Petty and Erich Wilson II spearheaded the running game as Washington tried to run down the clock. Petty carried 16 times for 54 yards, and Wilson II added 15 carries for 72 yards.

Washington’s ability to gain 209 rushing yards after compiling 132 in the first two games was a combinatioon of improvement, circumstance and opposition.

“I want to run the ball just like everybody else, but ultimately I want to win,” Sarkisian said. “If that means we need to throw it to win certain games, that’s what we’re going to do. The emphasis wasn’t primarily on running the football, it was about executing and doing everything right.”

Washington was able to do it without Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa, key offensive linemen who sat out with knee injures.

Now, 21st-ranked Stanford – a 21-14 victor over No. 2 USC – looms Sept. 27 to open Pacific-12 Conference play. The Cardinal (3-0) figures to be a decidedly different beast from Big Sky Conference member Portland State.

“It’s good to see those big plays, those explosive plays,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “We’re getting better and we’re getting a rhythm. That’s the good thing about this.”

Good enough for a week of purification.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com

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