SEATTLE – Deontae Cooper fought back the tears in Washington’s opener when he finally got his first collegiate carry.
His teammates battled their emotions on Saturday when Cooper finally scored – three years and three major knee surgeries after he was supposed to be one of the Huskies’ young stars.
“I wanted to get him in the end zone. I thought he deserved it,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I knew the team would be so excited for him. … Those moments mean a lot.”
Keith Price threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half, Cooper scored his first career touchdown, and No. 17 Washington routed Idaho State 56-0 on Saturday in the Huskies’ final tuneup before the start of Pac-12 Conference play.
Bishop Sankey (Gonzaga Prep), the national leader in yards rushing per game, barely broke a sweat against the Bengals (2-1) of the FCS. Sankey saw action on the Huskies’ (3-0) first three series and scored on a 3-yard TD run in the first quarter. He finished with 77 yards on four carries.
In the midst of the blowout, the story of Cooper coming full circle became the focus. He arrived on campus in 2010 as one of the Huskies’ recruiting gems. Then came the first torn ACL in his left knee, followed a year later by a second ACL in the same knee. Finally, during fall camp in 2011, Cooper sustained yet another ACL tear, this time to his right knee.
Cooper never quit despite all the obstacles. He was rewarded Saturday when he scored on a 4-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The redshirt junior received a rousing ovation from those who had stuck around and was mobbed on the bench by his teammates.
“I knew it was going to be a special moment for me, my teammates, my coaches,” Cooper said. “They’ve seen me put all the hard work in and all the time going through the injuries so it was definitely special.”
Cooper had 14 carries for 59 yards. He was standing on the sideline when the third quarter ended and the Huskies at the Idaho State 4.
Despite Dwayne Washington getting the bulk of carries on that possession, Cooper was sent in to finish it.