Last week, the Huskies put together a complete performance in all three phases against Arizona and were looking to get even better against the Utes.
Originally slated to play at 7:30 under the lights, the Huskies were switched to a 4:30 pm time slot and televised on ABC for a prime time opportunity.
On the opening drive, the Huskies defense took the field and were looking to set the tone early once again and get the ball back to the offense.
Utah had a nice and promising drive going, until the defense forced a fumble recovery. OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui sacked Utes QB Jake Bentley and the ball was recovered by OLB Jackson Sirmon at the Washington 36-yard line.
Coach Lake said, “the guy is just a playmaker,” when talking about OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui.
On offense, the Huskies tried to establish their run game early on and had a positive drive going, until QB Dylan Morris threw his first turnover of the season.
Utes CB Faybian Marks intercepted the pass and seized back momentum for Utah, in a game where both defenses were very stout so far.
With the Utah offense taking the field, it would look to take advantage of the turnover and strike first on the scoreboard.
What would ensue is a 9 play, 48-yard methodical scoring drive that took 5:40 off the clock, putting the Utes ahead of the Huskies.
At the 2:18 mark, Utah was leading Washington 7-0 and held all the momentum, with the Huskies offense looking to answer back.
The Husky offense would go 3-and-out on the next drive, as the Utah defense sold out to completely stop the run. Washington OC John Donovan would need to make an adjustment and throw the ball down the field to free up the run game.
On defense, the Huskies would settle in and force the Utes to punt the ball down to the Washington 8-yard line. It was time for the offense to step up.
QB Dylan Morris would continue to struggle reading the defens, as he nearly gave up a “pick six” but his pass would be dropped and the Huskies would be forced to punt once again.
At this point in the game, the Huskies offense had only gained 35 total yards, which was a far cry from the efficient offense from the first two games.
Defensively, the Utes had Washington on their heels, which was evident when Utah would score when RB Devin Brumfield ran in from 2-yards out.
“I was always focused on the next play, the next drive!” Elijah Molden said.
Utah was leading the Huskies 14-0 with 7:55 left in the 2nd quarter and most certainly, HC Jimmy Lake and the Dawgs had their work cut out for them!
Offensively, Donovan would make an adjustment and go with more “tempo” to gain some rhythm and consistency for Morris.
Any sign of positive momentum for the Huskies would be erased when Washington PK Peyton Henry missed a 40-yard FG attempt.
The Huskies would come away empty-handed, leaving the Utes leading 14-0 with 3:51 left in the half. An abysmal first half for the Huskies at this point.
The bad thing for Washington was that the Utes offense was not done yet. On their next drive, Bentley would connect on a 13-yard TD pass to WR Bryan Thompson.
Utah was firmly in control of the game with a 21-0 lead and 0:42 left on the clock. It was a shocking score for the Huskies, with no apparent answers on both sides of the ball.
“That first half was a little flustering to give up so many points,” Tupuola-Fetui said.
On the final play of the half, Utah S Zemaiah Vaughn intercepted the Morris pass at the goal line and ran it back 73-yards before running out of bounds and injuring a cameraman.
Stat wise, the Utes were outgaining the Huskies 221 to 127 total yards. It was a remarkable performance, as they held the Huskies to only 50-yards rushing.
In the second half and more specifically the third quarter, the Huskies started with the ball on offense and needed a touchdown to provide a spark and get back into the game somehow.
The Huskies would gain some huge momentum when they went on a quick 6 play, 72-yard strike drive, when RB Kamari Pleasant powered it in from 2-yards out.
At the 12:01 mark in the 3rd quarter, the Utes were leading 21-7 and the Huskies finally had some life – it was time for the defense to match the same intensity.
DB Elijah Molden would provide a massive spark for the Huskies when he picked off QB Jake Bentley and ran it back to the Utah 27-yard line.
What a start to the 3rd quarter for the Huskies. Would they capitalize? Sort of! PK Peyton Henry would convert a 26-yard FG instead of getting 7 points.
At the 7:21 mark, the Utes were leading 21-10, but the Huskies had all the momentum on their side and would be chasing the clock going forward.
On the next drive for the Huskies defense, they would get a humungous stop on 4th down and 1 and the take over on downs at the Washington 42-yard line.
“Those guys squeezed those gaps down,” Lake said about the crucial defensive line stops.
With decent field position for Morris and the offense, if Washington was going to put some serious pressure on Utah, now was the time for a touchdown.
Mr. Morris would deliver! He would deliver a 21-yard TD strike to TE Cade Otton and the Huskies were rolling – a complete reversal of fortunes from the first half.
“If there is a better tight end in the country, I’d like to see him,” Lake said about Otton.
At the 2:49 mark of the 3rd quarter, the Utes were only leading the Huskies 21-17, with all the momentum on the Huskies’ sidelines.
There goes that man again! Tupuola-Fetui would recover a fumble and run it back to the Washington 43-yard line and the Huskies were in business.
It would be the first chance for the offense to take the lead on the next drive. Unfortunately, the Huskies offense would stall out and be forced to punt.
With 12:32 left in the game, it was anybody’s ballgame to win. Would the Huskies have enough left in the tank to pull off the massive comeback victory?
Defensively, DB Elijah Molden would get a huge tackle on 3rd and 1 to force the Utes into a punt and a chance for the Husky offense to take the lead.
“He is an extraordinary leader for our entire team, not just the defense!” Lake said about Molden.
A huge turn of events would unfold when Utah S Vontae Davis would intercept the Morris pass. After penalties, the Utes would take over at the 50-yard line.
Once again, Tupuola-Fetui would deliver with another 3rd down sack (his 7th of the season), and once again the Huskies offense would have to deliver!
A couple of huge receptions by WR Puka Nacua would keep the chains moving for the Huskies, and marching towards the red zone.
The Huskies would capitalize in a huge way when Morris would engineer a scoring drive, capped by a 16-yard TD reception by TE Cade Otton.
Otton said, “We just needed to take it one drive at a time, one play at a time and execute.”
With 0:36 left in the game, Washington took its first lead of the game 24-21, and would now need to keep the Utah offense out of field goal range.
In grande fashion, the Huskies defense would come up with another huge play to seal the game when DB Trent McDuffie intercepted the Bentley pass to seal the victory!
“That was the moment where all of our hard work paid off for the day and we got the dub!” Molden said about DB Trent McDuffie’s interception.
One of the biggest comebacks in Husky history since the year 1988 and a true grit it out performance by the Huskies in the 2nd half.
“This was the biggest of my career for sure,” Otton said about the comeback victory over Utah.
Overall it was a tale of two halves for the Huskies, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of performance, but the Huskies got the final laugh.
Despite the score ending up 21-0 at halftime, the Huskies didn’t quit and they didn’t quit as they won the second half 24-0, which is remarkable.
Tupuola-Fetui said, “we have a tremendous coaching staff that is able to see things,” when asked about halftime adjustments.
With another solid victory over a decent opponent, the Huskies are in complete control of their own destiny with winning a Pac-12 Championship if they continue to win out.
“We grew a ton tonight,” Lake said.
Next up for the Huskies (3-0) is the Stanford Cardinal, in another home game at Husky Stadium, next Saturday night, December 5th, with a kickoff time to be determined.
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