Never in University of Washington football history — until Saturday — had the Huskies allowed 50 or more points in a game and won.
Trying to track in real time all the developments in Washington’s 59-52 victory over Eastern Washington Saturday at Husky Stadium amounted to an exercise not unlike doing play-by-play of a pinball game. The points came so dizzyingly fast that instant perspective was not possible, although UW statisticians have since provided a handful of takeaways. Among them:
The other post-game talkers involved LB Shaq Thompson, who switched to running back and broke a 57-yard touchdown run, and junior cornerback Marcus Peters, who drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag for inanely head-butting an Eastern player, then throwing a sideline rant, drawing a suspension from head coach Chris Petersen for the Illinois game Saturday.
None of the above, although noteworthy in the context of Husky history, addresses the most intriguing fact of all: The University of Washington has been playing football (or rugby) for 125 years (since 1889), more than 1,200 games (including bowls) are in the books, and no game in that time came close to duplicating last Saturday’s in this respect:
Washington allowed 52 points in a winning effort. Not only in 125 years had the Huskies never allowed 50 or more points and won a game, they had never allowed 40 or more and won. In fact, in those 1,200 games, the Huskies won only 20 times while allowing between 30 and 39.
So, if you had witnessed all 1,200-plus games since 1889, you wouldn’t have seen what you saw last Saturday.
Of course, you would have been privy to some incredible shootouts: Washington’s 54-49 loss to Cal in 1973, the 47-43 loss to Texas in the 2001 Holiday Bowl, the 51-38 loss to Nebraska in 2011, and the 48-41 loss to Arizona in 2007, to cite four. But never a game in which Washington allowed 50-plus and won.
Most points allowed by UW in a victory
|2014||Sept. 6||Chris Petersen||E. Washington||52||W 59-52|
|1998||Sept. 5||Jim Lambright||at Arizona State||38||W 42-38|
|1971||Sept. 18||Jim Owens||Purdue||35||W 38-35|
|1990||Jan. 1||Don James||Iowa||34||W 46-34*|
|1998||Oct. 24||Jim Lambright||Oregon State||34||W 35-34|
|2010||Oct. 16||Steve Sarkisian||Oregon State||34||W 35-34|
|2009||Oct. 10||Steve Sarkisian||Arizona||33||W 36-33|
|1976||Nov. 20||Don James||Washington St.||32||W 51-32|
|2000||Nov. 4||Rick Neuheisel||Arizona||32||W 35-32|
|2006||Nov. 18||Rick Neuheisel||at Washington St.||32||W 35-32|
|2011||Sept. 10||Steve Sarkisian||Hawaii||32||W 40-32|
Ross is boss
At the 11:21 mark of the second quarter Saturday, Miles pitched a 55-yard touchdown pass to sophomore John Ross, a Long Beach, CA., native, that temporarily vaulted Washington to a 31-21 lead. Ross’s touchdown almost was lost amid the combined 111 points the Huskies and Eagles, but it shouldn’t have.
It marked the third TD catch of 50 yards or longer for Ross in his first two seasons as a Husky. Last year, Ross caught a 57-yard TD from Miles in Washington’s 56-0 win over Idaho State. Two weeks ago, in the season opener, he caught a 91-yard TD from Jeff Lindquist (55 yards after the catch), the longest pass play for Washington since Jake Locker connected with Marcel Reese on a 98-yard TD against Arizona in 2007.
Ross has five career touchdowns, certainly not enough to make anyone forget Napoleon Kaufmann, Reggie Williams or Bishop Sankey.
But his three TD catches have gone for 57, 91 and 55 yards. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD against BYU in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl. In addition to his 91-yard TD catch against Hawaii, he also scored on a 20-yard run.
Question: In 125 years of Husky football, how many players have three or more TD catches of 50 yards or longer, a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD, and at least one rushing TD of 20 yards or longer?
Our first guess was Hugh McElhenny (1949-51), the only player in Washington history to score on 90-plus-yard plays three ways during his Husky career: 96-yard kickoff return at Minnesota in 1949, 91-yard rush vs. Kansas State in 1950, 100-yard punt return vs. USC in 1951.
But McElhenny isn’t the correct answer.
The answer is that only one player before Ross had a 100+-yard kickoff return TD, three TD catches of 50 yards or longer, and a rushing TD of at least 20 yards.
Name the player in the comments section – include time and date you posted the comment — and I’ll send the first to respond a free copy of “Russell Wilson: Standing Tall,” authored by me and Art Thiel, and just published by Triumph Books.