Neither rain, nor wind -- not even a near monsoon during the first half – could slow down Bishop Sankey and these rolling Huskies.
Sankey forged through the deluge as if in an ark, setting the UW single-game record with 40 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown. He and a swarming defensive front that spent most of Saturday night in Arizona’s backfield led 16th-ranked Washington to a 31-13 win over the waterlogged Wildcats before 65,815 at Husky Stadium.
Keith Price completed 14 of 25 passes for 165 yards and touchdown passes to Kevin Smith in the first quarter and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the third period for the Huskies, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 entering next Saturday night’s showdown at fifth-ranked Stanford.
Sankey’s 40 rushes were two more than Corey Dillon’s previous school record.
Sankey, the nation’s second-leading rusher at 147.8 yards per game coming in, bulled through Wildcats to begin the second half to spark a 14-play, 95-yard drive. Price faked the dive run and threw to a wide-open Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, and Washington led 18-6 early in the third quarter.
UW had Arizona (3-1) at fourth and 10 at the Huskies 35 on the ensuing drive. But the Dawgs’ defense lost running back Ka’Deem Carey running a wheel route down the sideline. B.J. Denker’s pass got Carey to the 11, and Denker ran the final 7 yards to re-tighten the game at 18-13.
Then coach Steve Sarkisian dialed up a huge play that had worked in the first half – all except for the catch.
After a steady diet of runs by Sankey off tackle, Price faked another one. On a deep drop, he had tons of time to find Smith breaking 5 yards behind the defense on a deep post route. Like in the second quarter, Price’s pass was perfect. Unlike in the second quarter, Smith caught this one. He stumbled down at the Arizona 20. That set up Sankey’s 1-yard touchdown run to end a 90-yard drive, and UW was up 25-13.
Gaining 185 yards to score the first two touchdowns of the second half sent a statement that the Huskies’ offense was not about to let go of its lead.
Yet the Wildcats kept driving, to the UW 42 midway through the fourth quarter. Denker was then forced outside yet again by charging defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, who spent most of the second half in Arizona’s backfield. Just before he reached the sideline Denker threw late across his body to the middle. Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters stepped up and intercepted the pass to keep the Dawgs ahead by 12.
The Huskies then stomped to the decisive touchdown. Sankey set his single-game record for carries, plowing for more first downs. Jesse Callier, back from reconstructive knee surgery that cost him the final 12 games of 2012, ran it in from 2 yards for the final points with 4 minutes remaining.