Huskies nip Devils 33-31

Washington's maligned running game came up big in the Arizona desert this evening as senior tailback Willie Hurst ran for a career high 185 yards on 21 carries to help the Huskies to yet another fourth quarter come-from-behind victory, this one a 33-31 win over Arizona State.

Washington won the game exactly as they had done against USC, with a John Anderson field goal with 0:00 remaining on the clock.

It was a game of surges as the Huskies scored the game's first 17 points, only to see ASU come back and score 18 unanswered points to make it a race to the tape. Washington is the best team in the country at winning games in the fourth quarter and once again reached the finish line in first.

Sophomore quarterback Cody Pickett finished the game with 252 yards passing and two touchdowns as well as running for a score.

It was Washington punter Derek McLaughlin who set up the first Husky score by hanging a beautiful boot that Wilbur Hooks downed at the ASU five. As a result, the Huskies would start their next drive on their own 45.

Cody Pickett found Reggie Williams for 12 and then Paul Arnold for 19 more as the Huskies drove deep into ASU territory. Pickett threw a dart to Paul Arnold on third and 10 that went for 22 yards down to the Sun Devil 3-yard line. On first and goal, Pickett looked left all the way and then threw back to a wide-open Todd Elstrom for a 3-yard touchdown and 7-0 Husky lead with 7:30 remaining in the first quarter. All seven plays in the drive were passes.

Washington looked as if they would go ahead 14-0 on their next drive as Hurst had runs of 11 yards and 18 yards to go with 12 yard completions from Cody Pickett to Paul Arnold and Todd Elstrom. However at the ASU 22, Pickett threw high for Arnold and the ball glanced off the receiver's mitts and was intercepted by safety Alfred Williams. Only Arnold's 4.4 speed saved the touchdown as he ran the ASU defensive back down from behind at the Husky 29-yard line.

Arnold's hustle play would ultimately cost ASU, as they were unable to move the ball and Mike Barth's 45-yard field goal attempt hooked wide right.

Washington picked up where they left off as Willie Hurst found the sledding smooth through the ASU defense. Going to a one-back, three-wide out set, Hurst picked up 17 yards on the first play of the drive. After a two-yard run off tackle, the senior captain took the handoff on a trap draw and found a huge hole just off Kyle Benn's left shoulder. Hurst hit the hole and accelerated into the Sun Devil secondary and wasn't tackled until he had picked up 36 yards. On third and four from the ASU 11, Pickett threw a perfect fade pattern to freshman Reggie Williams for a touchdown to give the Huskies a 14-0 lead.

ASU panicked. On the first play of their ensuing drive ASU QB Jeff Krohn pulled away from center Scott Peters early and put the ball on the ground. Husky linebacker Jamaun Willis recovered on the ASU 19. Washington was unable to move the ball and John Anderson put a three-pointer through the uprights from 31 yards away to push the margin to 17-0 early in the second quarter.

ASU finally answered the Husky barrage, using two big plays. The first came on 3rd and nine from the ASU 34-yard line. Krohn was able to get away from the Husky pass rush and run for 15-yards and a personal foul penalty on Owen Biddle was tacked on, moving the ball all the way to the Husky 36. After converting a fourth and one, ASU scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Pinkard who had gotten behind Sam Blanche. The Husky linebacker had no safety help and Pinkard's backside wheel route capped an 87-yard drive and pulled the Devils to within 10.

ASU suffered their second turnover of the game on their next drive. Krohn looked right and attempted to throw an inside screen back to the left to Justin Taplin. However he did not see Husky linebacker Anthony Kelley laying in wait. Kelley made the interception at the ASU 20 yard line. Two Willie Hurst 8-yard runs set the Huskies up first and goal on the five. After a Hurst three yard run, Pickett faked to Hurst left and kept it around right end. He picked up a block by Joe Collier at the pylon to help him into the end zone to push the lead back to 17.

Arizona State was able to answer just before half. Krohn quickly moved ASU from their own 20 to the Husky 20 with three long completions. But on third and seven from the UW 17, Husky defensive coordinator Tim Hundley brought an all-out blitz and linebacker Ben Mahdavi sacked Krohn for a 9-yard loss. Mike Barth came on and made a 42-yarder to make it 24-10 at the half.

Arnold finished the half with seven receptions for 91 yards and Hurst tallied 100 first half yards on just eight carries.

ASU began the third quarter by inserting Tom Pace into the game at tailback. He came up huge and coach Dirk Koetter used him in a neat wrinkle that the Husky defense wasn't ready for. After Mahdavi had blitzed and sacked Krohn to force a third and 20, Pace took a direct snap and ran 22 yards through the surprised Husky defense for a first down inside the 12-yard line. Three Pace runs later ASU had narrowed the Husky lead to just seven. The scoring play came on a three-yard blast where Pace bulldozed Kai Ellis into the end zone.

After Washington went three and out, Derek McLaughlin's punt was blocked by Justin Taplin. As the ball rolled into the Husky end zone, Omare Lowe smartly kicked the ball over the end line to save five points and take a safety.

McLaughlin's free kick following the safety went out of bounds, setting up the Devils at midfield. ASU's Shaun McDonald dropped a perfect Krohn throw on first down but made up for it by burning Chris Massey for 15 yards on third down. On their next third down and long, McDonald then beat Omare Lowe on a vertical route to push ASU into their first lead of the game. Krohn took a shot but delivered a perfect ball for a 34-yard touchdown to completely erase what was once a Husky 17-point lead. A Massey facemask on Krohn during the first two-point conversion allowed the Devils to try from 1 and a half yards out but Biddle stuffed Pace short of the goal line. Still, ASU had scored 18 unanswered points and now led 25-24.

Washington finally broke the ASU string of points. Facing 2nd and 11 on their own 40, Pickett correctly read blitz and found slot receiver Pat Reddick on a quick slant. Reddick broke free for a 34-yard gain. Two plays later Willie Hurst took a sweep around left end, followed a beautiful kick out block by OG Elliott Zajac and scampered 23-yards down the sidelines to put the Huskies back on top 35-30 on the last play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion run by Hurst came up short to leave the Husky lead at five.

The Devils answered quickly by going 80 yards in two minutes. A 30-yard Krohn to Donnie O'Neal connection in front of Lowe started the drive. Krohn then threw a perfect 44-yard strike to McDonald, who had gotten a step behind Roc Alexander and took it in at the Husky one-yard line. Delvon Flowers ran it in two plays later to put ASU back on top. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 31-30 in favor of ASU.

Back to back penalties caused the next Husky drive to fizzle. An ineligible receiver down field flag followed by a false start penalty hampered the offense. Washington again turned to their freshman punter to provide them with a field position edge. McLaughlin delivered and hung his kick high enough for Roc Alexander to make an over the shoulder catch to down the ball at the ASU one-yard line.

It wouldn't matter. Krohn once again toasted the Husky secondary, finding McDonald once again behind Alexander, this time for a 36-yard gain. A holding penalty didn't even slow the Devils much as Pace ran for seven and then Krohn found Ryan Dennard and O'Neal to move the chains. Washington finally stopped the drive but instead of getting great field position from their freshman punter's perfectly executed boot, they would now start on their own 10 with 7:12 remaining.

Cody Pickett did exactly what he had done a week earlier against Arizona – he led his team down the field for the winning score at the wire. It wasn't easy, but Pickett engineered a 18-play 78-yard drive that put ASU's offense on the bench for good.

Facing third and eight on his own 12, Pickett avoided three potential ASU sacks and scrambled for 11 huge yards. On second down Hurst picked up nine yards, eight of them coming after he had been knocked off of his feet but he put his hand down and caught his balance. Alexis picked up the first down on third and one to move the chains. Three plays later Pickett faced third and three. He ran option right and was stuffed, but instead of panicking he backed up one step and pitched the ball to Rich Alexis, who picked up 14 yards on the improvisation.

On second down Pickett threw a dangerous out pattern to Reggie Williams. Luckily the sophomore's arm strength was enough to get the ball to the freshman receiver just before ASU's Oliver could make his break on the ball. Williams made the catch and ran down the sidelines for a 23-yard gain to put the Huskies within John Anderson range. From the ASU 21 Washington used three more Hurst runs to set up what was expected to be Anderson's 29-yard game winning field goal.

However ASU jumped offsides, giving the Huskies a first down on the ASU six. Pickett took a knee twice to put the ball in the middle of the field and set up Anderson's game winner from 30 yards away as the clock expired.

Washington improved to 4-1 and forced a five-way tie for first place in the Pac-10 as UCLA, Oregon, WSU, and Stanford all have one loss as well.
Interesting notes:
  • Freshman DT Josh Miller made his first career start tonight, in place of Jerome Stevens
  • Senior LB Sam Blanche started his third consecutive game at SAM LB
  • K John Anderson injured his hip flexor and gave way to Jim Skursky on kickoffs after the first quarter. The senior walk on from O'Dea enjoyed a great night of kicking.
  • 18 of Washington's 24 wins under Rick Neuheisel have been of the come-from-behind variety.
  • Tonight's 33-31 win marks the 11th straight contest that Washington has won when the final margin was seven points or less.
    Notes and Quotes from Husky coaches and players as well as a "view from the press box" in Tempe will be filed tomorrow on this site.

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