SEATTLE – Emotionally drained, Keith Price spoke softly with his eyes red and his body battered.
Trying to carry Washington and making too many mistakes along the way left Price a wreck.
“Mentally, it’s rough dealing with something like this, knowing that you had an opportunity to win the game and I mess it up, and on several occasions,” Price said. “I’ll grow from this. I’ve never really had to deal with stuff like this before and it’s good for me.”
Price committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter to short-circuit Washington’s attempts to rally from a 17-point deficit, and No. 11 USC held on for a 24-14 win over the Huskies on Saturday.
The final two turnovers charged to Price were a matter of situation, with a forced passed getting tipped for an interception and Price fumbling on a late scramble with 2 minutes left as he was hit from the side during a final frantic drive by UW.
But it was his fumble inside the USC 5 with 11 minutes left that ended Washington’s best chance at making things uncomfortable for the Trojans after the Huskies trailed 24-7 at halftime.
Down by 10, Washington (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) was on the cusp of making it a one-possession game with a first-and-goal at the USC 6. The Huskies had run the ball on six straight plays and used a third-down completion to fullback Jonathan Amosa for 9 yards to get inside the Trojans 10. Bishop Sankey (Gonzaga Prep) gained 3 yards on first down, and on second down, Price rolled from the pocket. As he pump-faked, Jawanza Starling reached in and stripped the ball free, then fell on it at the USC 4 after two teammates failed to corral the loose ball with 11:03 left.
“I just have to play better and I keep saying that week in and week out and it doesn’t feel like it’s working for me,” Price said.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian and many of Price’s teammates were quick to say the responsibility isn’t all on their junior quarterback who was sacked five times and hit numerous others.
“People are going to make mistakes. That’s the nature of the game and Keith Price is the leader of our team and we’re going to stand behind him,” tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said.
Price missed his first three passes then hit 15 straight throws at one point as he tried to rally the Huskies. He finished 20 of 28 for 198 yards, with TD tosses for 17 yards to Kasen Williams and 29 yards to Seferian-Jenkins. But after Washington committed five turnovers last week at Oregon, another four against the Trojans – plus the blocked punt – was not what the Huskies needed in the final game of a daunting opening stretch that featured LSU, Stanford and Oregon.
Williams was a complete non-factor after the first quarter. He caught a pair of passes on the Huskies first scoring drive after USC (5-1, 3-1) had jumped to a 10-0 lead then disappeared. Williams went without a catch the final 46 minutes of the game.
Sankey finished with 14 carries for 54 yards and three receptions for 25 yards.