‘Dogs eat Huskies out of house and home
SEATTLE — On Monday before Fresno State and Washington were to square off at Husky Stadium, UW head coach Keith Gilbertson was adamant that the Huskies would have to protect the football on offense, especially at the quarterback position.
His assertion, however, was not heeded on Sunday afternoon, as the Washington quarterbacks gave up the pigskin to the Fresno State defense on five occasions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Those three touchdowns were enough to make the difference, as the Bulldogs won 35-16 in front of 65,345, the smallest Husky Stadium crowd since 1989.
“It's tough enough to play good teams when you're not turning it over,” Gilbertson said. “But when you turn it over at the pace we did today, then you're basically giving a really athletic team 28 points, it's going to be a long day.”
Washington's first turnover came near the end of the second quarter when sophomore quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who had led the team on an 87-yard scoring drive the previous possession, tossed an interception into the hands of Bulldogs strong safety James Sanders. Sanders easily ran the ball back for a touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
“I couldn't believe he threw that pass,” Sanders said. “I just covered my man and it was like a birthday present.”
Two minutes and 36 seconds after Stanback's interception, junior Casey Paus, who started the game at quarterback for Washington, also turned the ball over to the Fresno State defense on an interception by junior Awan Diles.
“I felt that I started all the turnovers with my interception,” Stanback said. “We had momentum; we were pretty much driving on them. Getting that touchdown gave them hope. So if you ask me, that was the turning point.”
Nonetheless, the Washing-ton defense managed to keep the game close up until the fourth quarter. Entering the final quarter, Fresno State clung to a 14-10 lead. The Bulldogs trailed the Huskies in both total offense and time of possession while the Husky defense was able to contain Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar, who finished the day with 125 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
“My hat's off to the Huskies — I thought they played good defense,” Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said. “We made some critical mistakes early in the game on offense but our defense just really played well.”
Even when the Bulldogs broke the game open in the fourth quarter, it was the Bulldogs' defense that posted most of the points. It was also during this quarter that Washington's turnover problems began to snowball.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Stanback mishandled an attempted fake handoff to fullback James Sims, Jr. The ball rolled on the turf for a moment before being scooped up by Bulldogs defensive end Brian Morris and taken in for the touchdown.
On the next possession, Paus heaved another interception when Sanders made his second pick of the game. Two plays later, Bulldogs running back Dwayne Wright scored a 28-yard touchdown. Wright finished the game with 109 yards on 24 carries.
In a matter of moments, Fresno State had opened up an 18-point lead.
Fresno State moved to 4-2 in its last six games against Pac-10 opponents and now travels to Manhattan, Kansas to face 13th-ranked Kansas State on Saturday.
-Mike is reporter for the University of Washington's newspaper The Daily.