Huskies season captured in 27-26 loss to #14 Arizona

Garrett Atkinson

The University of Washington football team (6-5) fell 27-26 to #14 Arizona (8-2) this past Saturday, Nov. 15 in what has surely been the most disappointing game of the Chris-Peterson era.

With less than two minutes remaining and one time out for the Wildcats, the Huskies got a first down at around their own 40-yard line with a 26-24 lead. It is not uncommon for football fans to turn off the TV at this point in football games because the result is so predictable. With only one timeout, the opposing team usually has no choice but to stop the clock and then watch helplessly as their opponent runs the ball or has the quarterback kneel to keep the clock running before ending the game. But in this case, had anyone watching chosen to do that, a quick glance at the final score would’ve made them do a double take.

On first and 10, Husky running back Deontae Cooper fumbled the football and the Wildcats recovered, giving them new life with 1:23 to go. With 39 seconds facing fourth down from the 30 yard line of Washington, Arizona let the clock tick, and, though they had all three time outs, the Huskies let them run down the clock. With three seconds remaining, Arizona kicker Casey Skowron’s field goal attempt sailed wide left and it looked as though the Huskies had won the game. But before the ball was snapped Husky head coach Chris Petersen had called time out. The ball was reset and Skowron gave it another try –– this one sailed right through the center of the uprights and the crowd erupted. The Huskies could only look on realizing that this was the most fitting way to end a game rot with an unbelievable combination of bad luck and blown opportunities.

By the time the game was over, the Huskies committed 16 penalties for 142 yards (just 32 yards shy of the total penalty yards record). One of these penalties came when the Huskies led 17-7. Arizona faced third and five at the UW 34 and had a pass knocked down, but the Huskies were flagged for defensive holding and the Wildcat drive stayed alive. This was only temporary, though, as the Huskies once again stopped the Wildcats at the 18. On fourth and four, the Wildcats sent on the field goal unit but caught the Huskies off guard when they faked it and Skowron scampered 18 yards into the end zone.

Penalties, despite their impact, were only part of the equation that eventually led to a Husky loss. The Huskies also gave Arizona the means to win in the form of turnovers. In the first quarter, Cyler Miles fumbled at the 14 of Arizona and the Wildcats recovered to stop a drive that had started at the Huskies 34. Later in the game, just before the end of the second half, Miles fumbled near midfield. The turnover gave the Wildcats momentum as they quickly marched down the field and scored to take a 21-17 lead at halftime. The Huskies finished with 504 yards to the Wildcats 375. Only fumbles, penalties, a missed PAT and a field goal that hit the post could account for a loss when a team dominates overall yardage by more than 100 yards.

This whole game epitomized a Husky season that has been full of  almosts. The Huskies’ first loss against then number-16 Stanford came down to a final possession. The game was tied 13-13 with five minutes to go. Their game against then number-17 Arizona State came down to a late fourth quarter score by Arizona State to break a 10-10 tie. So a disappointing loss to a highly ranked football team like Arizona in spite of every opportunity to win is rather consistent with the trend so far.

Expectations for the Huskies were high this year, but now that they have lost more games already than they did all last year, the question becomes how they will finish. Early bowl projections speculate that the Huskies will probably face an underwhelming opponent in a minor bowl. How will the team react? Will they finish on a high note? Will they finish the season flat? Or will they take the opportunity to build momentum leading into next season? These questions will be answered before the calendar year draws to a close, but one thing is certain: If the Huskies do start building a team that turns “almost” into wins, they will be very hard to stop.+