Huskies can't overcome loss of Locker

CORVALLIS - It's tough when even the game within the game doesn't matter much. The 29-23 loss to Oregon State - despite the fact that it mathematically put the Huskies out of post-season consideration - hardly seemed to matter Saturday night, as Husky fans everywhere were more concerned about the health of quarterback Jake Locker.

His second-quarter collision with OSU's Al Afalava left Locker face-down on the turf for roughly 15 minutes, and he was eventually moved onto a stretcher and taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis. According to on-field reports at the time, Locker was moving his extremities, yet complained of severe neck pain. They had to cut his facemask off, and at the time of this story Locker was alert, conscious and breathing on his own.

He even showed up with less than three minutes left in the game, and saw one of the stranger endings in the Pac. Oregon State was heading to a game-clinching score, when running back Yvenson Bernard headed toward the UW end zone from nine yards out. Bernard appeared to have his body on the ground when he tried to stretch the football over the goal-line. It hit the turf and bounced free. Washington cornerback Roy Lewis picked it up and ran the ball back to the Huskies' 38-yard line. The play had not been ruled dead, so inexplicably the Huskies retained possession when they ran a play without the Pac-10 replay booth calling for a review of the previous play.

The OSU crowd of 45,629 erupted in a chorus of boos when Washington started their own offensive possession. Buoyed by a 25-yard screen pass from backup Carl Bonnell to Louis Rankin, the Huskies had first down at the Oregon State 29-yard line, but couldn't cash in. As fate would eventually have it - not even Locker's wonderful sideline cameo could help the Huskies pull this game from the fire.

The Beavers used the two things the Huskies have historically never been able to stop - Yvenson Bernard and Alexis Serna - to slowly put Washington beyond arm's reach. Despite the Huskies' furious rally - lit by a 41-yard pass from Bonnell to Anthony Russo and an 86-yard catch-and-run between Bonnell and Cody Ellis - but couldn't capitalize on their last chance at good fortune. The Huskies were pressured all night by Beaver defensive linemen Slade Norris and Victor Butler, who had a combined four sacks, but still threw the ball for 249 yards.

Serna's four field goals on the night means the senior placekicker from Fontana, Calif. made 18 consecutive field goals against Washington - none more valuable than the 28-yarder he hit in the fourth quarter to give Oregon State a 29-10 lead. And Bernard - who had 144 yards against the Huskies last year - added 149 more on 36 carries. Freshman James Rodgers added 85 yards on eight carries.

Add to the Beaver scoring a Dennis Christopher 7-yard runback of a punt block by OSU's Gerard Lawson, and a two-yard pass from OSU quarterback Lyle Moevao to Andy Stewart, and that would be all the Beavers would need. Overall, Washington out-gained Oregon State 334 yards to 328, but the Beavers had the Huskies' number for three quarters of the game.

After Locker's injury, the game got a little chippy, with four eventual ejections for both teams - three for OSU, and one for Washington. Clearly this game had a little bit of everything, but ultimately the Huskies come away with Corvallis with little to show for their efforts - no win, no post-season hopes, no chance at achieving their pre-season goal. And it's even tougher knowing that there is another team on the other side of the ball that just won their sixth game of their season, thereby becoming bowl-eligible. So this game will sting for a while.

But at least for tonight, the Huskies are thankful for small miracles - regardless of the outcome on the field or the repercussions of the loss. Top Stories