The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 2

With the holidays upon us, is counting down the top plays of the season, with the No. 1 play to finish out the year. So who is next on the list? There's two plays left, and No. 2 is very special. It highlighted the player who was clearly the surprise of the season, and this play was the one that got it all started.

Bishop Sankey had huge shoes to fill when Chris Polk left UW, and he filled them comfortably, if not surprisingly so. The Spokane sophomore finished the season rolling; he was the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas MVP, rushing 30 times for 205 yards in a 28-26 loss to Boise State. In fact it's the only time the MVP award has ever been given to a player on the losing team - not too shabby for a player who was saddled with long odds for substantial playing time heading into 2012. He emerged from fall camp as arguably Washington's best pure rush threat, and as soon as Jesse Callier was ruled out the rest of the year after suffering a knee injury in the Huskies' season opener, Sankey took the job and literally ran away with it.

The single play that gave Washington fans hope that Sankey was more than ready to step into Polk's boots took place in game four. Given Callier's injury, UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian moved freshman WR Kendyl Taylor to running back to help spell Sankey. That move meant UW would only need to use Sankey 20 times against No. 8 Stanford, but those 20 carries resulted in 144 yards - a career high to that point in his short time at Montlake to date.

But as the game evolved it became a real defensive slugfest but Sankey had ripped off three runs of 15, 14 and 10 yards before being called on in the fourth quarter to provide his biggest play of the year.

With the Huskies down 10 and quarterback Keith Price just having surrendered a pick-six to Stanford defensive end Trent Murphy, UW needed a spark with the third quarter drawing to a close. Sankey provided a first down via run and pass to give the Huskies some breathing room, but then Price was sacked and two Kasen Williams receptions left UW with a 4th-and-1 at their own 39.

There wasn't much doubt as to Sarkisian's decision; he had always been aggressive in similar situations. His preferred play was 'God's Play', which has become a euphemism for any power running play between the tackles where the Huskies simply out-muscle their opponents to make the play required. It typically starts with UW racing quickly to the line of scrimmage in the hopes they'll catch the defense a bit out of sorts; if they are moving or in the process of getting set that just might provide the margin of error the Huskies need.

Coming out of the huddle, the Huskies raced forward as expected - but this time they threw in a little motion to allow fullback Jonathan Amosa a chance to seal off the Cardinal middle linebacker - which he did.

Sankey found a crease between James Atoe and Michael Criste on the right side of the line, and then juked past Terrence Brown and safety Ed Reynolds. He was gone. Give massive amounts of credit to Atoe and Criste, who had to adjust mid-way through the game to new positions; Atoe had started the game at right tackle but moved inside to replace true frosh Shane Brostek.

The only shame in watching the run unfold was not getting a great gauge for the reaction of the 55,941 fans at CenturyLink Field to see the Huskies win in prime time on a Thursday night. For fans watching it on ESPN, all they could see was the 'black out' that was taking place, so when Sankey hit the end zone with his run and the cameras panned to the stands all you could see was black - so it was very difficult to tell just how electric the atmosphere was at that exact moment.

But as someone that was there, it was unbelievable. The Huskies had the momentum back in the game, and as soon as Kasen Williams scored the go-ahead touchdown and both teams were getting ready for the subsequent kickoff, the energy was unreal as AC/DC's 'Hell's Bells' was ripping through the CenturyLink PA. In my opinion that's when the Huskies were at their very best in 2012. From that point on the Cardinal had no chance.

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