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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Husky Offense Comes Alive In 52-3 Victory Over Arkansas State

By Khalid Bennett, The Seattle Medium

The University of Washington Huskies got their first win of the season with a 52-3 victory over Arkansas State Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium. Staff Photo/Aaron Allen.

Washington took the field Saturday afternoon facing the Red Wolves of Arkansas State looking to get their first win in a disappointing start to the 2021 football season. After an 0-2 start which featured an inexplicable loss at home to Montana, the Huskies desperately needed to find their offense which had only been able to muster 17 total points on the season.

The first possession for the Huskies ended in another 3 and out after a dropped pass on 3rd down by junior receiver Terrell Bynum. The second drive was much different. In fact, it featured something that had been lacking all season long for the Husky offense, explosive plays. Washington quarterback Dylan Morris was able to find freshman receiver Taj Davis for 14 yards. Then he hit true freshman Jalen McMillen down the right sideline for 39 yards, setting up a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton to give Washington an early 7-0 lead.

Arkansas State was able to move down the field setting up a field goal attempt, but the kicked sailed right and Washington took the ball back deep in their own territory. That’s when Washington’s offense came alive. Morris helped engineer a drive that went 80 yards in just 2:38. On the drive, Morris went 4-4 for 60 yards, while senior running back Sean McGrew finished off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to make the score Washington 14, Arkansas St. 0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Huskies wouldn’t hesitate on their next possession to put the pressure on the Arkansas State’s defense. The Washington offense was playing with confidence and execution unlike anything seen so far this season. Running the football was an adventure for the Huskies in their two previous games. The Husky offensive line started winning the match ups up front and created some space for big plays in the running game. A 70 yard, 10 play drive that was highlighted by an 18-yard run, and a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Richard Newton making it 21-0 Washington.

The Husky defense energized by the spark set by the offense played some inspired football shutting the Arkansas State running game completely down.

While the defense did their job to prevent big plays, the offense did their job to produce them. Morris continued his assault on the Red Wolves secondary going to the air and finding Davis for 39 yards, Jalen McMillen for 18 yards and then McMillen again for a 33-yard touchdown pass, as Washington was able to go 93 yards in just 7 plays to put them up 28-0.

Just when it seemed like Washington couldn’t do anything wrong, Morris made his first mistake of the game throwing an interception with 5:25 remaining in the first half. After a blocked punt by the Husky defense, Washington turned over the football again. This time a fumble by freshman running back Cameron Davis. What seemed like a perfect half of football didn’t come without a few hiccups. Nonetheless, Washington would still take a 28-0 lead over Arkansas State into the locker room at the half. McMillen accounted for 152 yards receiving in the first half, which is the most receiving yards in the first half since John Ross’s 174 back in 2016.

The second half looked like it was going to be a lot like the first with the Huskies finding success in the running game once again. What started off as a promising drive stalled after a wide-open Devin Culp dropped a pass in the end zone and the Huskies had to punt. Arkansas State, who already had trouble moving the football, was now pinned on their own 1-yard line thanks to an excellent punt by senior Race Porter. After a quick 3 and out forced by the defense, the Husky offense went right back to work going 45 yards on 7 plays with McGrew getting his second touchdown run of the day with a 2-yard plunge increasing the Husky lead to 35-0.

The defense continued to play stingy and just when Arkansas State started to move the chains, the Washington defense forced their first turnover with a fumble that was recovered junior defensive back Brenden Ridley-Hiles. However, the Huskies gave the ball back on the very next play as Morris threw his second interception of the day off of a ball that was tipped. This set up the Red Wolves in scoring position for just the second time in the ball game. Arkansas State was able to get on the scoreboard for the first time with a 26-yard field goal, as they trailed Washington 35-3 at the end of the third quarter.

Washington wasn’t done racking up the passing yards in the fourth quarter. A 12-yard run by Davis set up the play action and Morris found Bynum for a 42-yard touchdown pass for his third touchdown pass of the day, giving the Huskies a big 42-3 lead. Morris would leave the game with 367 yards passing in favor of freshman quarterback Sam Huard who took his first snap as a Husky. Sam’s father Damon and uncle Brock were both Husky starting quarterbacks in the 90’s. The lefty who wears number 7 looking eerily similar to his uncle Brock, who was a lefty that dawned the same number 7 as a Husky. Huard completed his first pass attempt to Giles Jackson for 23 yards. Two pass interference penalties put Washington in field goal range, as they increased their lead over the Red Wolves 45-3.

 The defense got in on the scoring late in the game when freshman defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele forced a fumble with a big hit on Arkansas State quarterback Layne Hatcher that was scooped up by freshman linebacker Braylen Trice and returned for a touchdown. Hatcher would turn the ball over again with an interception that sealed the victory for Washington. 52-3 was the final score. The Huskies will start conference play at home next week against Cal.

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