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The UW Huskies beat Cal and earn their first away win despite following an unusual scenario

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BERKELEY, Calif – UW’s first seven games followed a familiar scenario.

Predictably, they started off with a Washington touchdown on their opening run. They highlighted Michael Penix Jr.’s strong left arm, who dealt the ball with the frequency of a paper boy on his morning course. They included a smorgasbord of a number of suitable wide receivers and explosive plays. They were touchdown-heavy and defense-light. They enjoyed fourth-down gambles. They were brimming with porous passing defense – missed balls, broken guards and uncompetitive corner kicks. They were fun, frustrating, and undeniably hilarious.

There were points for seven Saturdays.

There were goals and penalties from the field in UW’s 28-21 win over Cal.

At least, at first.

There were also drops and defensive stops, relative rarities for Kalen DeBoer’s 2022 Huskies. Together, they explain why Washington beat Cal 245 to 83 in the first half…but only 6-0 ahead.

“I can’t say it’s been frustrating,” Penix said of UW’s slow start to the defense. “It was a defense that didn’t lose many points. It’s a really tough defense, a solid defense. We knew we had to practice the little things. And early on, I feel like we didn’t practice the little things (the way) we should have done to get into the finish zone.”

UW played 24 combined games in their first two offensive runs, but only came back with a pair of Peyton Henry field goals. The opening salvo ended when a Penix design designed in the third and 6 was filled for a 2-yard loss at the Bears’ 23-yard line. For the first time in eight games this season, UW’s opening game did not end with an extra point.

After quickly pushing a Cal punt, UW’s second drive was a similar disappointment—the 14-game, 62-yard walk trailed at the crucial moment. With Cal third and fifth from the 20-yard line, narrow-end Jack Westover was penalized for a faulty start – keeping his hands on his chrome gold helmet after admitting his mistake. Penix rushed back Wayne Taulapapa for a 7-yard gain, UW – went fourth-down 19 times in his first seven games, 11pearl– most in the country – chose to shoot Henry from 35 yards instead.

By now, maybe you’re theme specific. An encouraging UW defense forced another Cal punt, and Penix and Co. moved the chains in a steady fashion again – then stalled outside the end zone. Penix scored the second goal from the 8-yard line as they found McMillan for a diving goal… which was denied with a passing penalty to wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk. Henry then pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt two games wider.

The offense succumbed to a flurry of self-injury as UW’s defense forced four consecutive hits in the first half. Over the course of two quarters, the scenario was effectively turned upside down.

For better or worse, the second half felt more familiar.

Cal quarterback Jack Plummer found wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant for a double touchdown in the third quarter—an 8-yard hit to his body as he dodges the pass, and a 48-yard flair where Sturdivant burned Husky corner Jordan Perryman for third-and-7.

UW also (finally) found the finish zone, as Cameron Davis blew the guts for a 6-yard score as he ran back — the 10th conference leader of the season. And after Sturdivant’s sprint tied the game 14-14, the Huskies responded immediately – snatching a 10-game, 75-yard drive, resulting in a 13-yard back shoulder shot to McMillan in the third and 10th.

“This is something we practice all week,” said a smiling Penix. “We knew if they kept Nick on the pitch we would have good numbers up to the limit. That’s what they did and I knew it was going to be a touchdown before I even kicked the ball. It just mattered who got it.”

A week after breaking UW’s one-game pass record of 516 yards in their Arizona win, Penix was on the line again – completing 36 of 51 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns. UW coach Kalen DeBoer called the standout quarterback “just super consistent. Everyone knows what you’re getting with it. He can make all the shots. Interested in football… There really isn’t a time when you feel like there’s too much risk when you throw the ball. He’s committing the crime.”

McMillan likewise led the Huskies with eight catches for 81 yards and the aforementioned score.

But a crime alone is not enough. After McMillan’s goal gave the Huskies a dangerous 21-14 lead, UW’s passing offense did its part – as Voi Tunuufi sacked Plummer (with the help of Zion Tupuola-Fetui) for a three-pointer.

At this point, Penix has provided.

At Cal third and 2nd from the 36-yard line, the redshirt teenager threw in a snap, timed and found some hard-hitting nickel-backed Collin Gamble and high-paced Richard Newton running, attempting an interception. end zone.

“It was fun to see that,” DeBoer said. “He was so far off the court from where I was standing that I thought he was five meters off bounds. So it was nice to see him snatching the ball because we all know that Mike is not just a slacker. It was a big game for us to do a few somersaults and then find his way.

“It’s always fun to see these guys tackling challenges. With his injuries, he’s a warrior. It was fun to see that he achieved this feat in a different way than he had possibly expected.”

The 6-foot, 212-pound Newton, who missed the Arizona game with an injury, provided valuable insurance for a rapidly disintegrating pass defense. Because, 28-14 behind, Cal surprisingly responded – with an 8-yard narrow window Plummer touchdown pass to wide receiver Mavin Anderson in fourth and 7, limiting a 12-game, 80-yard drive.

But after the UW was forced to punt, the pass scrimmage resurfaced when Tupuola-Fetui sacked Plummer for a 10-yard loss in third and smashed an already quiet California Memorial Stadium. The Huskies forced a fourth shortfall on Cal’s journey to despair below.

UW finished with five sacks in the win – two by sophomore Bralen Trice and one each by Tupuola-Fetui, Tunuufi and Jeremiah Martin. Plummer completed 21 of 33 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

When asked if Cal had done anything schematic that would allow UW to skip the pass, Trice smiled, nodded, and said: “O-line. This much. This much.”

For 30 minutes, the Huskies followed an unfamiliar scenario. And in the end, they deviated from the script in two different ways.

A year after finishing 4-8, Washington qualified for bowling as it entered its bye week…and earned DeBoer’s first away win in the process.

“We’re all partying here and getting crazy and making noise because we’re good for bowling,” Trice said moments after Prince’s song “Purple Rain” roared from the road locker room speakers. “We got our sixth win and it feels great, judging from what happened last season. We’re 6-2 now. We’re doing our job.”

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