Husky Stadium/Seattle , WA -Following an emotional pregame ceremony, in memory of recently-deceased legendary Washington head coach Don James, the Huskies and Husky fans came in emotionally-charged for a big game. The Huskies delivered to the tune of a resounding 41-17 victory over Cal.
The Bears also had the misfortune of playing a rather desperate Husky 5-3/1-3 Washington team in the midst of a 3-game losing streak coming into their 8 pm late night matchup.
The Bears won the opening coin toss, electing to receive the kickoff. After a Goff 1st down completion to receiver Darius Powe, the Bears' drive stalled at midfield.
Punter Cole Leininger followed with a beautiful punt that died on the Husky 3, however Washington proceeded to methodically drove down the field for an 11 play, 97-yard touchdown drive in their first possession, with senior running back Bishop Sankey rushing it in from the 3 for a quick Washington 7-0 lead just 6:12 into the game.
After a pair of 3-and-outs by Cal sandwiched around a Husky 3-and-out series, the Washington got back on the board with a 5 play, 47 yard drive on the strength of a Sankey 42-yard run off tackle. Sankey had a huge day for the Huskies, going for 241 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
The drive stalled at the Cal 36, where Husky kicker Travis Coons hit a career-long 46-yard field gaol to stretch the UW lead to 10-0 with 3 minutes left in the quarter.
After yet another 3-and-out, the game quickly began to get away from the Bears, with Husky receiver Jadon Mickens breaking free for a 68-yard touchdown reception with 1:41 left in the quarter. safety Demariay Drew was badly-beaten on the completion and the Bear secondary continued to struggle.
After taking possession at the Cal 25, the Bears finally began to move the ball, with a 13-yard completion to Chris Harper -just the second Cal 1st down of the game- and a 15-yard facemask penalty brought the ball down to the Husky 29 as the 1st quarter ended.
After 1st down receptions by Bryce Harper and Richard Rodgers pushed the ball to the Husky 5, the Bears converted a rare red zone opportunity, as Harper went high for a Goff pass to bring the Bears to 17-7 after a Vince D'Amato conversion two minutes into the quarter.
The Husky momentum was further stalled when receiver Kasen Williams suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury on a incomplete pass down the sideline that was broken up by Cal corner Kameron Jackson.
After holding the Huskies without a 1st down, the Bears took over at their 42 with 11:55 left in the half. The Bears couldn't take advantage of the good field position, however, with three errant Goff passes handing the ball right back to the Huskies, who took over at their 24 yard line.
After a big 33-yard Sankey run put him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season, the Husky drive stalled at the Cal 45.
Pinned back at their 3, Goff completed his longest pass of the day -a 49-yard, off-balance completion to Harper brough the ball into Husky territory.
A crazy flea-flicker end-around run by Treggs brought the ball down to the Husky 5 but a questionable illegal blocking call on Goff brought the ball all the way back to the Cal 40, where the drive stalled.
After a pair of punts, the Bears took over at their 9 yard line after a Husky punt.
Goff converted a 14-yard 1st down to Powe to start the drive with six minutes left in the half, followed by a 15-yard completion to Lawler, bringing the ball to the Cal 38.
After a pair of incompletions, Goff was sacked by Husky tackle Hau'oli Kukaha -his second of the night- to stall yet another drive, giving the Huskies the ball back at their 35 after a Leininger punt.
The Bear defense held, forcing a 3-and-out and a Husky punt. After Treggs fielded his fourth fair catch of the night, the Bears took over at their 22.
Goff promptly hit Harper on a 28-yard completion to midfield, starting the Bears on the move but again, their drive stalled yet again.
Goff had a decent game, going 32-for-54 for 336 yards and 1 touchdown with no interceptions.
"I see definite improvement," said Goff. "I know it's really hard to imagine (with the string of losses) but I think we're really coming together as a team through all this pain and struggling. I think we're really coming together and forming a bond offensively and defensively.
"I do definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to keep working towards getting there every week."
"I felt good pretty much most of the game," said Goff. "There were a couple plays I wish I could've had back but a lot of my receivers made good plays for me and did a great job.
"I didn't turn the ball over and that's something I've been working on but at the same time, there's a lot of stuff I didn't do well and have to do better."
The Huskies took over at the Cal 9 and promptly drove the field for a 6-play, 91 yard drive capped by a 59-yard Sankey td run, featuring some of the poorer tackling Bear fans would want to see as the Huskies pulled away from a fairly-competive first half for a 24-7 lead going into the half.
The final touchdown of the half stung especially so with the Huskies trapped deep in Cal territory and scoring with so little time left in the half.
"It changed things a lot for us," said Dykes. "We had the ball and had the reverse and had the ball within the (Washington) 10 yard line and had the illegal block that moved it back. We ended up stalling and had to punt and they popped a big run so it was kind of a 14-point swing for us. So instead of going into halftime down 17-14, we go in 24-7."
The bad news kept coming, as the Huskies took the 2nd half kickoff and quickly drove 80 yards in 6 plays, with Price hitting Mickens over a badly-burned Michael Lowe for a 47-yard touchdown pass just two minutes into the half to go ahead 31-7.
After trading possessions, the Bears had Washington at 3rd-and-long at their 39 but Price hit Mickins with a perfect pass over backup corner Isaac Lupite. After a 21-yard completion on the next play to receiver Marvin Hall, Price waltzed in from the 1 for another Husky td, extending their lead to 38-7 with 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
"We have great glimpses of us playing really good football but in football, it only takes those five plays to mess up to lose a game," said linebacker Khairi Fortt. "We just need to minimize those flaws and that's how we win a game."
The Bears finally got back on the board, with a 10 play, 68 yard drive that ended on the Husky 8 and a 25-yard D'Amato field goal to start the 4th quater, moving the score to 38-10.
It could've been quickly worse as the Bears surrendered a 90-yard touchdown return by frosh receiver John Ross, but a holding call mercifully brought the ball back to the Husky 18. The Huskies picked up right where they left off, however, driving the field quickly with a 23-yard run by Sankey and a trio of completions before the drive stalled at the Cal 25, with senior kicker Travis Coons hitting his second 40+ yard field goal of the day from 42 to extend the Washington lead to 41-10.
One of the few bright spots in the game came mid-4th quarter, as freshman running back Khalfani Muhammad broke free for an impressive 73-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles and showing a Bigelow-esque spin move to break free. Muhammad had 91 yards on the night in just four carries.
The Bears came into the game with a major revamping of their offensive line, including moving starting left guard Jordan Rigsbee to center and starting redshirt frosh Christian Okafor at left tackle and true freshman Chris Borrayo at left guard.
"I thought we played pretty well up front," said Rigsbee. "I thought we made some improvement from the last couple games.
"I thought Borrayo -a true freshman- did a great job for being as young as he is. I'll have to watch some film to see how the tackles did. We had a couple of sacks that were miscommunications with the quarterback but overall, the younger guys played pretty well.
"We're trying to move people around until we get the right combination. I think it was for the better."
Now the task ahead for Dykes and staff is to keep the team motivated and hungry to get on track and put wins on the board.
"Every game, every down, we're playing our hearts out," said Fortt. "There's a lot of young kids and we're still rebuilding but that's not an excuse. It's hard, but that's the adversity we have to face.
"It's a tough season. Everyone knows that. We're just grinding through it.
"There's no doubt (the team thinks it can win games). Every Monday or Tuesday we come out, we're banging, everyone's hype. Friday and Saturday comes, we're still excited to play. Nobody's giving up on Coach Dykes or the staff or the team. We're really just trying to get better."
To view postgame video interviews, use the embedded viewers below.
Cal head coach Sonny Dykes:
Linebacker Khairi Fortt:
Center Jordan Rigsbee:
Quarterback Jared Goff: