By Kendall Black
The Seattle Medium
The UCLA Bruins added a ninth win to their winning streak away from the Rose Bowl, defeating the University of Washington Huskies 44 to 30 last Saturday at Husky Stadium. With the dismissal of Husky cornerback Marcus Peters possibly affecting the makeup of the team, the Huskies seemed off their game with a slow start against the 18th ranked Bruins.
Husky linebacker Hau‘oli Kikaha effectively killed UCLA’s initial drive in the first quarter, sacking UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley for a four yard loss at the UCLA 49-yard line. With that sack, Kikaha recorded his 14th straight game with a sack. He also set a Husky all-time single season record as he has accounted for 116 yards lost, beating the record set by Dennis Brown. Unfortunately, Kikaha left the game with an injury and the Husky defense struggled to contain the Bruins unrelenting march up the field.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley seized the opportunity and executed an impressive passing game against the Husky defense racking up 302 yards passing, as the Bruins made steady progress up the field to score double digits in three out of four quarters.
There were some definite high points that made for some exciting moments, but it was clear that the Huskies were at least one step behind the Bruins throughout the contest. In the first quarter, UCLA surged ahead with 14 unanswered points until the Huskies managed a field goal. Despite their best efforts the Huskies were not able to overcome that deficit and take the lead.
“The first half was extraordinarily disappointing,” said UW head coach Chris Peterson. “UCLA is good and they brought their A game and we certainly did not play hard.”
Despite a few setbacks and the steady progress of Hundley and the Bruins up the field, the Huskies did not give up the good fight.
“We just weren’t playing our game in the first half,” said UW defensive lineman Danny Shelton. “We weren’t playing that physical and aggressive game that we usually play.”
“It’s tough to come back from such a lead,” added Shelton. “The only thing that we can do is keep fighting and that’s what we did.”
Husky quarterback Cyler Miles fought to keep the Huskies in the game as well, as put his head down on several occasions and rushed for 62 yards, including a touchdown in the 2nd quarter that was set up by a 19-yard run to UCLA 31-yard line. Miles passed for 155 yards on the day, including a 36 yard to pass to Deontae Cooper to get the Huskies on the board with a field goal.
The Huskies’ Shaq Thompson was again a bright spot, playing both on both sides of the ball as running back and linebacker. He was explosive on offense rushing for 100 yards and had a total of 4 tackles on defense. It was Thompson’s second straight game rushing for more than 100 yards, and despite playing a limited role on offense until the last few weeks he has become the Huskies leading rusher with 456 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
The second quarter started like a cliffhanger as the Huskies were knocking on UCLA’s door. Thompson rushed for 3 yards, fighting for every inch, to scrape out a first down at the UCLA 6-yard line. Miles followed up with a 6 yard touchdown run to bring the Huskies within 4 points, 14-10.
Following the Husky touchdown, UCLA pushed forward uncontested by the Husky defense as they made their way to the Washington 6-yard line. Hundley then returned the favor and rushed for a 6 yard touchdown of his own, as UCLA went on to score 17 unanswered points.
When all hope seemed lost, Husky kick returner John Ross lit a spark in the Huskies with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. This play marked the fifth 100-yard play in team history and the second such play for Ross who did it in last year’s Fight Hunger Bowl game against BYU. For Ross and the Huskies, the play seemed to end a streak of having big plays by Ross that were called back due to penalties.
“[Flags] That’s the first thing that we all looked for,” said Ross, when recalling the touchdown after the game. “The guys didn’t come up to me and say we knew you were going to get one, the first them they came up to me and said was ‘no flags, no flags’ so we all got excited.”
Ross, who is the Huskies fastest player, had to dig deep in order to make sure he scored on the play, as the UCLA kickoff team tried to close the gap before he got into the endzone..
“It almost seemed like I almost got caught by the kicker, so I was a little scared for a while,” said Ross.
Ross’ exploits gave the Huskies a boost, but by the fourth quarter the writing was on the wall. Despite all of their best efforts, the Huskies were unable to make up that 14-point gap and lost their third straight home game in the process.
“I thought we did a good job in the second half but we have to do a better job in that first half. It’s a four quarter game. You get behind too far it’s too much tough sledding to make it back up,” stated Petersen.
This week the Huskies travel to Tucson to take on the Arizona, where they hope to knock off the 17th ranked Wildcats.
PICTORIAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE UW-UCLA FOOTBALL GAME: