Dawgs roll over Idaho 34-6

The sun was a tentative observer at Husky Stadium as the Huskies faced off against Idaho on a cloudy afternoon on the shores of Lake Washington. Husky fans were also tentative spectators today, many opting to stay home as the half-filled stands were peppered with those in attendance.

After a couple of stalled drives, the Washington offense began to catch fire against the Vandals resulting in several big plays including Louis Rankin's first touchdown as a Husky, a 48-yard jaunt down the Husky sideline.

On the play, Rankin took a stretch play off left tackle and noticed a hole to his right, cutting on a dime, he hit open space and outraced Vandal safety Jevon Butler to the endzone.

That run followed a methodical Washington drive that covered 74-yards capped by a one yard James Sims touchdown run on fourth-and-goal to put the Huskies up 7-0. Sims appears to be the coaches' choice to be the short-yardage back as he got several carries near the goal-line.

Idaho only mounted one solid drive in the first half, a nine-play drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Idaho K Mike Barrow.

The Husky defense also made it's presence felt in the middle of the second quarter when facing 3rd-and-inches, Idaho QB Steve Wichman tried two quarterback sneaks and the defense stuffed him for no gain on successive plays to hand the ball back over to the offense.

"You've got to be able to get a few inches in that situation and that just shows you we need to get some movement from our two guards and our center," a disgusted Idaho head coach Nick Holt said. "Our quarterback needs to find a little window and go and get it without turning the ball over. We had two snaps and we didn't get it.'

When the Huskies began the final drive of the first half on their own 20-yard line and appeared to be satisfied with running the clock out, but Idaho forced their hand as they called a timeout.

Head coach Tyrone Willingham, belying his conservative nature, allowed offensive coordinator Tim Lappano to make a couple of aggressive calls and the players obliged making several plays including a 45-yard pass from QB Isaiah Stanback to WR Craig Chambers down the left sideline where Chambers had to out-duel Idaho CB Jason Martin, while falling down at the Vandal 9 yard-line.

With great field position and plenty of time left on the clock, the Huskies appeared poised to take a 21-3 lead into the locker room, but like many recent Husky teams, they could not punch it in settling for an Evan Knudson 18-yard field goal.

Idaho opened the second half with a short drive and then the Huskies special teams stepped up with a big play as DT Mike Mapuolesega broke through the middle and blocked the punt and the Huskies were in business on the Idaho 40.

Seven plays later Stanback faked a handoff to Sims and rolled right and had enough green in front of him to run it in for another Husky touchdown making the score Washington 24, Idaho 3.

The defense stepped up again as they forced Idaho into another interception when LB Scott White hammered Idaho WR Daniel Smith and LB Joe Lobendahn caught the ball off his shoes and the Huskies were again in great field position. It was the first interception of Lobendahn's career and it set the Huskies up in excellent field-position.

"It felt real good," Lobendahn said with a huge smile on his face. "I wish it had been up a little higher so I could have stayed up on my feet and showed my stuff, but I'll take it."

While the Huskies did take advantage of the field position, Rankin seemed to run more tentatively as they entered the red zone and the Dawgs had to settle for another Knudson field goal, this one from 28 yards out.

In what seemed to be the theme of the second half, the defense held strong again, sacking Idaho QB Steve Wichman once and stuffing two inside running plays. After Idaho was penalized 15-yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, their punter, apparently skiddish following the blocked punt, shanked a punt from the middle of his own endzone and the Huskies had the ball 1st-and-10 on the Vandal 26.

Then it was Kirton time. Stanback hit Kirton for a 20-yard gain and then two plays later Kirton caught his first touchdown pass as a Husky and the Dawgs were up 34 – 3.

"It was a basic ‘naked play' to the strong side," Kirton said referring to his six-yard tochdown catch. "It wasn't as open as we expected it to be, but Isaiah made a great throw and we made a good connection and it worked out."

The Huskies continued to get massive amounts of pressure on Wichman the entire game as Manase Hopoi, C.J. Wallace, Ceasar Rayford, Evan Benjamin and Donny Mateaki all had sacks.

DT Wilson Afoa also had a great game coming up with several tackles for loss and allowing the linebackers to roam and make plays by taking up double-teams on a regular basis. Hopoi had a huge game, posting four sacks and generally playing most of the game in Idaho's backfield.

Sophomore Eric Lobos had the light moment of the day when he stepped between Wichman and RB Jason Lee Brown almost picking the ball off. When the ball hit the ground, Lobos appeared ready to do a backflip in disgust as his teammates congratulated him on reading the play.

The Husky defense wasn't hesitant at all as they held the Vandals to –4 rushing yards, the first time they've done that since 1997 when they held San Diego State to –7. The Vandals only posted 186 total yards on offense, only the second time the Huskies have accomplished that feat since 1997.

Now with their first win under their belts, the 1-2 Huskies face off against 2-1 Notre Dame next week in what should be a very interesting week around Montlake.

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