The first time Myles Gaskin ever crossed the plane at Autzen Stadium, he threw his head back and let out a yell, with several defenders stumbling in behind him.
Gaskin, a sophomore, ripped through Oregon’s line, through its secondary and crashed down the Ducks sideline for 65 yards.
“That was probably the biggest hole I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Gaskin said. “I just thought, ‘You better score on this because they’re going to get on you if you don’t score on something like this.’”
That touchdown run, on the first play of UW’s fourth possession in the first quarter, gave the fifth-ranked Washington Huskies a 21-0 advantage.
“I know they’ve got a fast defense,” Gaskin said. “A lot of those guys on that secondary are real fast. I was just trying to get to the end zone as fast as I could. Once I got there, it was a good feeling, and just kind of kept rolling.”
He smiled as he jaunted toward his own sideline. It was quickly becoming clear that UW was well on its way to ending its 12-year drought against Oregon.
It never rains at Autzen Stadium? Well, the Huskies made it pour before a sold-out crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Eugene, scoring a season-high 10 touchdowns on their way to ousting the Ducks, 70-21.
Gaskin, an O’Dea High School product, was aware of the enflamed rivalry growing up, but puts Oregon in the same category as every other opponent.
“I knew about it when I was in high school, but it was never about them, it was never about a streak,” he said. “It’s just about us getting better and playing the best ball we possibly can every week. It’s good to know we ended that streak … but we just come out here ready to play.”
This is the second time in two weeks the Huskies have routed a Pac-12 opponent — they drubbed then-No. 7 Stanford, 44-6, last week in Seattle — and the second straight week Gaskin ran for 100-plus yards.
“It was good to get him going in a rhythm,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said.
Following a somewhat sluggish start — last week against Stanford was his first 100-plus rushing game of the season (18 carries, 100 yards, two TDs) — Gaskin put together a career outing in his first trip to Eugene.
He eclipsed last week’s total, putting up 197 yards on 16 carries and the one touchdown.
Two possessions after his 65-yard touchdown run, Gaskin nearly broke free for another. He again found a hole, then the edge for a 68-yard burst — his longest run of the game — but was dragged down by Khalil Oliver at the Oregon 15-yard line.
“He’s such a patient guy,” Petersen said. “You kind of saw him get back to that, and then he’ll find that crease. He has deceptive speed.”
Last season, Gaskin became the first true freshman in UW’s history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, finishing with 1,302 — the eighth-most in program history.
He is nearing the halfway mark to that number after Saturday’s win — the Huskies’ first in Eugene since 2002 — with 599 yards to date.
In his first career outing against the Ducks in Seattle last season, Gaskin put up 155 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. He scored on a 72-yard scamper at the end of the third to bring the Huskies within 10.
UW couldn’t complete the comeback, and dropped their 12th consecutive loss to the Ducks, 26-20.
This time, Gaskin didn’t even play all four quarters to best last year’s total. In fact, he played less than three full quarters.
His final carry was a 12-yard rush for a first down with more than five minutes remaining in the third. That eventually led to one of the Huskies’ 10 scores.
“It’s good to win,” Gaskin said. “The way we went about it, it was a great team win. … It’s one of those feelings where everybody’s doing well. It’s one of those feelings you really can’t explain.”