HONOLULU – It wasn’t ever going to be easy for the 25th-ranked Washington Huskies, breaking in a new quarterback, a new running back and a new-look offensive line under their new coach.
It wasn’t supposed to be this hard, though, winning 17-16.
Hawaii closed to a point of Washington early in the fourth quarter late Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, a stunning turn for the Huskies, 17-point favorites.
After a promising first half in his first career start, UW sophomore quarterback Jeff Lindquist – and the offense in general – looked almost completely stagnant in the second half. Lindquist, the sophomore from Mercer Island, was 7 of 11 (with two drops by receivers) for 134 yards and the one touchdown in the first half of his first career start.
He completed just three of his first 13 passes (for 28 yards) in the second half.
Meanwhile, the quartet of Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier couldn’t find a rhythm either at running back, and the offensive line – featuring fill-in Coleman Shelton at right tackle – was at a standstill, at best, against Hawaii’s defensive front.
The offensive highlight early was receiver John Ross. And, in the second quarter, it looked like that might be enough to spark the sluggish Huskies.
After scoring on a 20-yard reverse, Ross, UW’s sophomore receiver, then lined up on the right side of the formation and zoomed past two defenders. As Lindquist’s pass hung high in the air, it came down perfectly into the hands of Ross, who finished off the 91-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
In those moments, it looked like that might get the Huskies over the hump.
Instead, the game was harder than expected for the Huskies in Chris Petersen’s much-anticipated debut with UW, and the yards easier than they should have been for Hawaii (0-1) against UW’s veteran defense.
Hawaii’s 245-pound senior running back, Joey Iosefa, powered in for a 1-yard touchdown to cap the Rainbow Warriors’ first possession, a way-too-easy 10-play, 58-yard drive that took just three minutes, 28 seconds.
Hawaii, which went 1-11 last season, added a field goal later in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead. UW’s defense, breaking in three new starters in the secondary, looked lost.
But junior cornerback Marcus Peters, UW’s only veteran in that young secondary, came through with perhaps the defensive play of the game. Hawaii had put together another 10-play drive that stalled at the UW 9-yard line. After a timeout, the Rainbow Warriors tried a trick play.
Peters sniffed out the receiver pass, charging hard at Hawaii’s Marcus Kemp, whose pass attempt toward the end zone fell meekly at the 3-yard line. UW ball.
On the next play, Lindquist found Ross with the perfect pass to give the Huskies a 14-10 lead at the 11:42 mark of the second quarter.
It was the second-longest pass play in UW history, trailing only Jake Locker’s 98-yard completion to Marcel Reece against Arizona in 2007.
Ross, ran a hand-timed 4.29-second 40-yard dash in the spring.Lindquist was wild in the second half, overthrowing open receivers. He was able to scramble for key yards in the first half, but those dried up, too, in the second half. The Huskies’ run game in general was ineffective.
In the third quarter, the Huskies ran 16 plays and gained 44 yards. That’s 2.75 yards per play.
(3) Oregon 62, South Dakota 13: Marcus Mariota threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns then ran for one more before sitting out the second half, leading the third-ranked Oregon to a victory over the Coyotes in the season opener for both teams in Eugene.
(7) UCLA 28, Virginia 20: The Bruins scored three defensive touchdowns before Brett Hundley led them on a critical second-half scoring drive and No. 7 UCLA slipped past the host Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia in the opener for both teams.
(11) Stanford 45, UC Davis 0: Ty Montgomery returned his first career punt for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and another score, and the No. 11 Cardinal tuned up for a date with No. 15 Southern Cal next week by routing the visiting Aggies in Stanford, California in the first game of the season for both teams.
(15) USC 52, Fresno State 13: Cody Kessler threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns and the No. 15 Trojans ended a trying week with a win over the Bulldogs in Steve Sarkisian’s debut as USC head coach.
The Trojans ran a school- and Pac-12 record 105 plays while racking up 37 first downs and 702 yards of total offense.
California 31, Northwestern 24: Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and the visiting Golden Bears hung on to beat the Wildcats in Evanston, Illinois in the season-opener.
Cal looked like it was on its way to an easy victory up 31-7 in the third quarter. Instead, it had to sweat this one out.
Oregon State 29, Portland State 14: Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion passed for 328 yards and one touchdown and rushed for another score to pace OSU to a season-opening home victory over the Vikings in Corvallis, Oregon.
Trailing 14-13 at halftime, Oregon State forced turnovers on five of Portland State’s first six possessions of the second half and took the lead for good on Garrett Owen’s 26-yard field goal with 10:58 to play in the third quarter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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