SEATTLE – The painful thing, they say, is that they had chances. Not just one, or two, or even three. The Washington football team had chance after chance after chance to not only stay in its game against California Saturday, but to take control of the contest.
But, just as the Huskies did (or didn’t do) against Air Force in their opener, they couldn’t make the plays that would have led to a win. Instead, Washington saw a tremendous start vanish under the strain of a relentless California offense as the Golden Bears defeated the Huskies 56-17 in front of 57,775 fans at Husky Stadium.
The loss was the eighth straight for Washington dating to last season, and dropped it to 0-2 this year (0-1 in the Pacific-10 Conference). California beat the Huskies for the fourth time in a row and improved to 1-0, 2-0.
“There were some points in that football game where we closed it, where we really had a chance to get back in it,” said Washington coach Tyrone Willingham, who suffered his first loss to Cal after seven consecutive wins. “But we couldn’t make the plays at that point to get it done.”
Washington was dominated by the No. 16 Golden Bears in nearly every way. The Huskies couldn’t run the ball (68 total yards) as the offensive line was badly outplayed, couldn’t stop Cal from passing (271 yards), allowed the Bears to convert 6 of 10 third downs, and had a crucial punt blocked.
“They beat us in every way you can get beat,” Huskies center Brad Vanneman said.
What made the final score more surprising was the way Washington started the game. On the game’s first play, Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob’s pass deflected off of Matt Fountaine’s helmet into the hands of safety Darin Harris. On the next play, a perfectly designed fake screen, Isaiah Stanback threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Sonny Shackelford. Washington’s defense forced punts on the next two Cal possessions, but the offense couldn’t add any more points.
“We’ve got to find a way to get up on teams, stay up on them, not get too excited and put them away,” said Stanback, who completed 22 of 39 passes for 301 yards.
Ayoob, who was 0 for 10 last week against Sacramento State, finally got going late in the first half. Ayoob completed four passes in a row, including an 11-yard TD pass to Robert Jordan to tie the score at 7.
Washington’s wheels really started to come off on the next Bears drive.
Facing third-and-13, Ayoob scrambled 26 yards for a first down. Three plays later, on third-and-24, Ayoob, about to get drilled by linebacker Scott White, shuffled a pass to Marshawn Lynch, who ran 25 yards for a first down. Ayoob completed the drive with a 24-yard scoring pass to Jordan.
“He made some big plays on third down with his scramble ability and those were the things that we saw when we recruited Joe,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.
An Evan Knudson 46-yard field goal kept Washington close. But after converting another third-down play, Ayoob again passed to Jordan over the middle, and the sophomore receiver caught the pass over a leaping Fountaine for a 58-yard TD.
“During the week we just told him to throw the ball up to us, and we would catch it for him,” said Jordan, who set career highs with 11 catches for 192 yards.
Things then got worse for UW, as on the next drive a heavy Cal rush prevented Sean Douglas from getting off a punt off. On the next play, Ayoob passed to tight end David Gray for a 14-yard TD and a 28-10 halftime lead.
California 56, Washington 17
UW—Shackelford 54 pass from Stanback (Knudson kick)
UC—Jordan 9 pass from Ayoob (Schneider kick)
UC—Jordan 24 pass from Ayoob (Schneider kick)
UW—FG Knudson 46
UC—Jordan 58 pass from Ayoob (Schneider kick)
UC—Gray 13 pass from Ayoob (Schneider kick)
UW—Chambers 39 pass from Stanback (Knudson kick)
UC—O’Keith 5 run (Schneider kick)
UC—O’Keith 71 run (Schneider kick)
UC—Hughes 41 interception return (Schneider kick)
UC—Forsett 35 run (Schneider kick)
|Time of Possession||29:43||30:17|
RUSHING—California, O’Keith 6-103, Forsett 11-77, Lynch 5-46, Ayoob 8-27, Williams 4-23, Manderino 3-10, Storer 1-3, Team 1-(minus 3). Washington, Rankin 13-38, Stanback 9-23, Sampson 2-7, James 2-6, Douglas 1-(minus 6).
PASSING—California, Ayoob 17-27-1-271, Levy 0-0-0-0. Washington, Stanback 22-39-1-301.
RECEIVING—California, Jordan 11-192, Manderino 3-37, Lynch 1-25, Gray 1-14, Stevens 1-3. Washington, Shackelford 6-124, Chambers 3-65, Kirton 3-38, Lewis 3-23, Russo 2-31, James 2-7, Rankin 2-2, Ellis 1-11.
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