Wide Receiver Reggie Williams (Getty Images)
Washington fell behind 14-0 before rallying for their first road victory of the season, a 42-14 shellacking of the #23 Oregon Ducks in rainy Autzen Stadium this afternoon.
Oregon was without all-Pa 10 tailback Onterrio Smith, and it showed. Washington’s defense was able to stifle the high flying Duck offense, holding them to 300 total yards.
Cody Pickett completed 26 of 37 throws for 316 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted twice, but was very efficient in his decision making. The junior from Caldwell, Idaho, became the Pac-10 single season leader in passing yardage, surpassing WSU’s Ryan Leaf (3,637). Pickett also broke the single season completions record that was held by Stanford’s Steve Stenstrom (300), and the UW school record for TD passes in a season with 24 (Brock Huard had 23 in 1997).
Oregon’s Jason Fife could only complete 10 of 29 throws for 170 yards, while Kellen Clemens didn’t completed one of his three passes and threw a crucial interception. Fife completed just three passes after the first quarter.
Sophomore wide receiver Reggie Williams lit up the Duck secondary with 14 receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Junior tailback Rich Alexis rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
Washington sophomore cornerback Derrick Johnson had another monster game, successfully defending five passes and intercepting two passes.
The beginning of the game looked like it would be anything but a fun time for the Huskies. Fife threw an inside screen to wide receiver Sammy Parker, and behind the block of Keenan Howry, raced 36 yards down the Duck sideline, putting the Ducks into Husky territory right away. Oregon used an assortment of screen passes to Terrence Whitehead to quickly move into the Husky red zone. On first and goal from the eight, Terry Johnson put heat on Fife and caused him to throw right to CB Nate Robinson. The true freshman had 92 yards of real estate ahead of him but dropped the ball. Two plays later Fife hit Parker on a slant in front of Robinson for the touchdown that put Oregon ahead 7-0.
A special teams penalty forced Washington to begin their first drive on their own 11. A third and one rush attempt was stuffed two-yards behind the line of scrimmage by true freshman Haloti Ngata. Derek McLaughlin then hit a UW school record 80-yard punt that pinned the Ducks back on their own two.
Oregon responded in huge fashion, going 98 yards in the blink of an eye. Fife hit TE George Wrightster right up the middle for 28 yards to get the Ducks out of the shadows of their own end zone. An option pitch to Ryan Shaw went 23 yards and Oregon was quickly on the Washington 37. From there Fife threw to Jason Willis, who had ½ step on Derrick Johnson and Robinson. Willis made the catch to put the Ducks up 14-0 with 6:09 still to go in the 1st quarter.
It appeared that Washington would further fuel the Duck onslaught with a holding penalty on their ensuing drive. Then Pickett stepped up and hit senior flanker Patrick Reddick for 23 yards down the middle. It was the play that got the offense untracked and it set up fourth and one at the Duck 35. Alexis picked up six on the option to move the chains. A 12-yard pass to Braxton Cleman moved the ball to the Duck five, and Alexis capped the drive by carrying over left tackle to put the Dawgs on the board.
Washington’s defense then got tough and sacked Fife twice, one by Ben Mahdavi to end the first quarter, and one by Josh Miller as the line collapsed the Duck pocket.
Washington began their next drive from their own 15. Pickett found the range with Reggie Williams, connecting for gains of nine, two, and 14 yards. On fourth and one from the Duck 26, Pickett appeared to run into some trouble on the option, but he stopped and darted forward for three and a first down. One play later Williams lined up in the slot and no Oregon defender lined up over him. Pickett took the snap and immediately fired to Williams, who ran 23-yards untouched to tie the score at 14-all with 7:47 left in the half.
McLaughlin pinned Oregon on back onto their two-yard line again with another marvelous punt. One play later the Dawgs had the ball back as Derrick Johnson leapt high and stole the ball away from Keenan Howry at the Duck 46. Pickett found Frederick for 17 yards on third and nine to move it to the Duck 28, but on his next attempt to Frederick, safety Keith Lewis took advantage of the ball hanging up in the wind. He outfought Frederick for the ball and made the interception in the end zone for the touchback.
At the half, Mike Bellotti made a substitution at quarterback and redshirt freshman Kellen Clemens took the reigns. Up until that point in the season, he had only taken eight snaps and thrown for only 40 yards. It took him one play to show why he is not the starter and why OSU’s Derek Anderson was considered the better prep quarterback in Oregon. On Clemen’s first snap he threw into zone coverage and Derrick Johnson easily made the interception at the 30, returning it to the Duck 13. One play later Pickett ran the option left, held it long enough to make the linebacker commit, and then pitched to Alexis who scampered into the endzone to put the Dawgs up 21-14 early in the third quarter, much to the shock of the Duck faithful.
Oregon stayed with Clemens at the helm and used some trickery to help him. A 10-yard misdirection pitch to Whitehead and a 30-yard flanker reverse by Howry put the ball on the Husky 30. The drive stalled after a Duck holding penalty, and a Clemens forced throw that should’ve been intercepted again by Johnson. Jared Siegel, the Ducks’ money-man with the leg, missed a 39-yard field goal wide right.
The wheels were about to come off for the Ducks.
McLaughlin’s next punt, a 53-yard cannon shot, was fielded cleanly by Howry and returned 7 yards until Wilbur Hooks got a hand on his arm. Howry put the ball on the ground and Kevin Ware fell on the ball at the Duck 18. Four plays later Pickett found Pat Reddick from 8-yards out to put the Dawgs up 14 and further shock the Autzen crowd.
The Dawg barrage of points prompted Bellotti to put Fife back in, but things didn’t improve a great deal. Two series later, Washington put the game away.
Alexis began the drive with a 13-yard bolt off left tackle. A huge play came on 3rd and five when Pickett was under heavy duress but stood tall and threw to Paul Arnold who was coming back to the ball. The gain was seven, good for a first down. More importantly, it kept the fourth-quarter clock and the Duck fan’s stomachs churning. Pickett found Williams for 12 to move the ball near midfield. On third down and five from the Duck 48, once again the Ducks left Reggie wide open in the slot. He ran a simple slant and Pickett hit him in stride just across the Duck 45, where he slashed through the disheveled Duck secondary for a touchdown. John Anderson’s extra point made it 35 unanswered points for Washington and the purple-clad Husky crowd began waiving and singing goodbye to the 57,112 Duck fans that began to flock for the exits with still 11:00 remaining in the game.
With 7:23 remaining, Pickett hooked up with Williams on another quick slant. One missed tackle later Williams was once again racing for the end zone, this time for a 41-yard score that made it 42-14 to complete the scoring.
Washington is now bowl eligible, having won their sixth game of the season. They travel to Pullman to take on WSU for the Apple Cup trophy next Saturday. The Huskies feel much better about themselves as they are now 6-5 and their 26 consecutive non-losing season streak stays alive.
Oregon falls to 7-4 and will take on Oregon State in Corvallis next weekend.