On a night where the Washington Huskies couldn’t wait to get back on the field, the much-awaited debut of head coach Jimmy Lake had begun.
A huge question before the season started was who would win the starting quarterback job. During pregame warmups, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris took snaps under center with senior center Luke Wattenberg and the cat was officially out of the bag.
“It was very close,” Washington head coach Jimmy Lake said when deciding about the starting QB job.
The Huskies started with the ball on offense and had a pretty good drive going until they stalled on the Beavers 40-yard line.
On 4th and 6, an errant snap when over the head of Husky punter Race Porter and Beavers DB Jaydon Grant picked up the ball and ran into the endzone for the score.
At the 9:46 mark, the Beavers were leading the Huskies 7-0, which wasn’t the start that Washington head coach Jimmy Lake was looking for.
It would now be time for the Husky offense to answer back and gain momentum – and they did. Senior running back Sean McGrew took the handoff from Morris and ran 21-yards into the endzone for the score.
The game was tied at 7-7, with 7:44 left in the 1st quarter. It was a great start for the Husky offense under new offensive coordinator John Donovan.
“How bout’ John Donovan! He did an awesome job today keeping those guys off-balance,” Lake said.
Defensively, the Huskies would dig their feet in, force the Beavers into a 3-and-out and get the ball back to the Husky offense.
On the next drive, the Huskies offense methodically moved the ball down the field by establishing their physical running game.
The drive was capped off by a 25-yard FG by placekicker Peyton Henry and the Huskies were now leading 10-7, at the 2:10 mark of the 1st quarter.
Getting turnovers changes the complexion of football games and when sophomore OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui batted the ball out of Beavers QB Tristan Gebbia’s hand, the Huskies would capitalize.
“In training camp, this guy was harassing all of our quarterbacks,” Lake said about Tupuola-Fetui.
ILB Edefuan Ulofoshi recovered the fumble and the Husky offense was back in business, heading into the 2nd quarter of play.
“Eddie, this guy is probably the hardest worker on the team,” Lake said about Ulofoshio.
The Huskies would capitalize on the turnover when Husky RB Kamari Pleasant scampered into the endzone on a 15-yard run.
At the 14:15 mark of the 2nd quarter, the Huskies were leading the Beavers 17-7 and the offense had physicality and tempo.
Oregon State wouldn’t go quietly into the night, as they answered back with a touchdown score of their own when RB B.J. Baylor ran in from 3-yards.
It was an 11 play, 80-yard scoring drive for the Beavers, that took 4:38 off the clock. The Huskies were still leading 17-14 at the 9:31 mark of the 2nd quarter.
On the next drive for the Husky offense, a crucial drop by WR Puka Nacua on 3rd and 3 forced the Huskies to punt after a 3-and-out.
The Huskies would seize momentum when DB Trent McDuffie returned the punt 45-yards to the Beavers 15-yard, to set up the offense nicely.
QB Dylan Morris would eventually sneak the ball in from the 1-yard line for the touchdown. The drive for the Huskies went 8 plays, 15-yards with a 3:49 minute time of possession.
At the 2:19 mark, the Huskies extended their lead to 24-14 and it was now time for the defense to get a stop before the end of the half.
The scrappy Beavers just wouldn’t go away when RB Jermar Jefferson would score on a 4-yard run and close the gap on the Huskies lead to just 3 points.
Overall, the Huskies offense showed glimpses of brilliance with long sustaining drives, while the defense surrendered two touchdowns in a row to end the half.
“If we have the ball, most likely they can’t score,” Lake said about the long sustained drives on offense.
At halftime, the Huskies were only leading 24-21 and headed into halftime looking for some adjustments to help them in the 2nd half.
In the second half and more specifically the third quarter, the Huskies needed to establish some momentum with their defense taking the field first.
The Husky defense would come out determined as they forced the Beavers into a 3-and-out to start out the half and a chance for the offense to score again.
When the Huskies offense got the ball, they went on a 17 play, 85-yard drive, that took 7:35 minutes off the clock but ended without anything to show for it.
Henry missed a 28-yard FG at the 5:42 minute mark, leaving the Beavers offense with a chance to take the lead on the ensuing drive.
Oregon State would march the ball all the way down the field and be forced to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Washington 5-yard line.
The Huskies would get the stop and give the ball back to the offense with a very important drive and a chance to make it a two-possession game.
An important delay of game penalty on 4th and 7 caused the Huskies to have to punt the ball instead of going for it, with 11:21 left in the 4th quarter.
The momentum on that drive was then negated when Wattenberg was called for a 10-yard holding penalty, which reversed the first-down for the Huskies.
Oregon State would take over at their own 1-yard line and it was time for the Husky defense to get stingy and hold the fort down.
DB Elijah Molden would make a critical play on the ball on 3rd down and another chance for the Husky offense to gain some separation on the scoreboard.
A carefully engineered drive would take 7:24 minutes off the clock, which resulted in a 23-yard FG by Henry and only 1:45 left in the game.
With the Huskies leading 27-21, it was time for the Husky defense to do what they have done for years…WIN THE GAME!
And what do you know – the Huskies defense would deliver once again when DB Asa Turner picked off Gebbia to seal the game.
The Huskies found a way to get it done, but there will be plenty on game film for them to clean up before next week’s game.
“We have a long way to go – it wasn’t perfect,” Lake said.
Defensively, the Huskies made the plays when they needed to down the stretch, but gave up some big plays as well.
Those things are going to happen with a young defense, as they are gaining experience with every single rep and down.
Offensively, the Huskies flashed some signs of a balanced offense, with good tempo and physical running with the ground game. The 267 rushing yards from “The Stable” of running backs, set the tone early for the Huskies.
“We want to be the most physical team in the Pac-12 and establishing the run is going to be important every game,” McGrew said.
The Jimmy Lake era starts out in the win column and most importantly, they finally got to play a real game with all the setbacks from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m proud of the guys for not flinching through a tumultuous time,” Lake said.
Next up for the Huskies is the Arizona Wildcats, which marks their second consecutive home game, next Saturday afternoon, with a kickoff time of 5:30 p.m. PT.
Coach Lake said, “back to work tomorrow with our sights set on Arizona.”
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