One by one, the members of the University of Washington football team stood up and talked Friday night at the Bellevue hotel the team stays in the night before games, until virtually everyone had had their say.
They talked of their frustration over losing to Nebraska, of how they didn’t want to see a potentially great season laid to waste by one loss, of how they needed to know that they still were a team and that they still believed in each other, even if it seemed like no one else longer did.
“There were a lot of things said and some tears that were shed,” said senior fullback Mike Reed. “This season means a lot to the seniors.”
And it was a season, they said again and again, that wouldn’t go anywhere without a victory over Arizona State in the Pacific-10 Conference opener.
“A lot of people took blame on themselves and looked inside and realized that if we were going to do what we wanted to do this year we needed to start right now,” said senior linebacker Jerry Jensen. “I think we showed that today.”
The Huskies certainly did, dominating the lines and overcoming some sloppiness to beat defending Pac-10 champion Arizona State 26-14 in front of 74,986 at windswept and rain-drenched Husky Stadium.
The 10th-ranked Huskies improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Pac-10 play while the 25th-ranked Sun Devils fell to 3-2 and 1-1 with their first Pac-10 loss since 1995.
“This gets the (Nebraska) monkey off our back,” said UW coach Jim Lambright.
That it did.
UW’s defense had nine sacks and forced three turnovers in the kind of physical performance it will need to win the Pac-10.
And players said they were more physical because they were more emotional after what happened Friday night.
With running back Rashaan Shehee gaining 146 yards on 29 carries, UW dominated the stats from the start, but ASU turned a Shehee fumble into a 19-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Then ASU’s Larry Johnson intercepted a Brock Huard pass on the next possession, giving the Sun Devils the ball at the Huskies’ 20.
But the defense forced ASU to lose 6 yards on three plays, and Robert Nycz - who had kicked a field goal with 2 seconds left to beat the Huskies last year - then shanked a 46-yarder, his third miss of the first half.
UW took over at its 29, and gave the ball to backup tailback Maurice Shaw seven consecutive times, the final carry going 28 yards into the end zone for a 13-7 lead.
On ASU’s next play, UW’s Nigel Burton intercepted a tipped pass, giving UW the ball at the Sun Devils’ 31. Three plays later, Shehee scored from a yard out to make it 19-7 at halftime, giving the Huskies two touchdowns in a span of 30 seconds. ASU put together its only sustained drive of the game to start the second half, moving 66 yards in seven plays to make it 19-14.
But UW countered with an eight-play, 48-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard Huard pass to Reed that made it 26-14.Huard also threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Pathon in the first quarter.
UW 26, ASU 14
Arizona St. 0 7 7 0 - 14
Washington 6 13 7 0 - 26
Wash-Pathon 17 pass from Huard (kick failed), 1:06 ASU-Redmond 3 run (Nycz kick), 7:28 Wash-Shaw 28 run (Lentz kick), 1:25 Wash-Shehee 1 run (pass failed), :55 ASU-Cercone 14 pass from Kealy (Nycz kick), 12:59 Wash-Reed 10 pass from Huard (Lentz kick), 2:29 A-74,986.
ASU Wash First downs 15 18 Rushes-yards 39-51 51-240 Passing 180 150 Comp-Att-Int 13-30-1 8-19-1 Return Yards 67 0 Punts-Avg. 7-38.4 9-41.7 Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1 Penalties-Yards 7-46 8-86 Time of Possession 26:47 33:13 RUSHING-Arizona St., Redmond 21-76, Martin 4-21, Paulk 3-5, Boyer 1-(minus 5), Kealy 10-(minus 46). Washington, Shehee 29-146, Shaw 17-94, Reed 2-12, Huard 3-(minus 12).
PASSING-Arizona St., Kealy 13-30-1-180. Washington, Huard 8-19-1-150.
RECEIVING-Arizona St., Boyer 3-61, Jackson 3-44, Bates 2-32, Mitchell 2-20, Martin 2-9, Cercone 1-14. Washington, Shehee 3-70, Pathon 2-58, Coleman 1-11, Reed 1-10, Cleeland 1-1.