CHICAGO – Keith Price wasn’t quite ready to celebrate, nor were his teammates.
Even though No. 19 Washington came away with a rare road win to remain unbeaten, it was hardly a perfect game.
Price threw for 342 yards and two scores, Bishop Sankey ran for a career-high 208 yards and the Huskies held off Illinois 34-24 at Soldier Field on Saturday.
Josh Shirley added three sacks, and the Huskies came out on top after dropping seven of nine away from home. They hadn’t won on the road outside the Pac-12 since beating Syracuse in 2007, but they were hardly content.
“We had a chance to finish them off,” Price said. “We didn’t do it. We let them crawl back in the game late.”
Washington (2-0) collected 615 yards after racking up 592 and keeping Boise State without a touchdown in a 38-6 rout two weeks ago. But UW had to hang on down the stretch against Illinois.
The Huskies saw a 21-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to seven in the fourth, before sending Illinois (2-1) to its sixth straight loss against the Top 25.
“In every department, there should be improvement,” Shirley said. “The sky’s the limit for this team. We just have to go back to the drawing board on Monday and fix the corrections next week.”
The Illini cut it to 31-24 on Aaron Bailey’s 10-yard run with 9:10 remaining, but Washington’s Travis Coons kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game with 4:44 left. Gregory Ducre then picked off a deep pass by Nathan Scheelhaase.
“I thought we had a chance to maybe put them away and they fought back, and it was a good job by our guys closing the ballgame out late,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s a great win for us, to come on the road halfway across the country and get a good nonconference win.”
Price completed 28 of 35 passes without an interception. Sankey carried 35 times after running for 161 yards in the opener. He scored a 31-yard TD on a screen in the first half and on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter, capping a 75-yard drive in which Washington did not attempt a pass.