By Khalid Bennett, The Seattle Medium
Coming into this week’s game against UCLA, the Washington Huskies would have a tough task ahead of them stopping one of the best offenses in the conference in the Bruins. UCLA coming off a win over Arizona last week which kept them alive in the race for the PAC-12 south, also had a big win earlier this season over a ranked LSU team. Washington had a bye last week after dropping an overtime game in Corvallis to Oregon State.
For the Huskies, it was Homecoming and the Huskies were set to honor the 1991 national championship team, as they would dawn commemorative uniforms and hope to channel some of the energy with members from that squad present for the game.
Offense wasn’t a point of emphasis early in the contest as both defenses kept the ball in the middle of the field. Washington was able to break the 0-0 tie after a pass interference penalty and a 17-yard end around by wide receiver Rome Odunze to set up a Peyton Henry field goal putting the Huskies up 3-0.
UCLA would answer back on the next drive going 75 yards highlighted by two big plays at the end — a 23-yard run by Zach Charbonnet and a 17-yard screen pass for a touchdown from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to receiver Kam Brown to put the Bruins up 7-3 to close out the first quarter.
All season long the Husky defense has struggled against the run. Oregon State was able to score the winning touchdown in overtime two weeks ago without having to throw the ball. This week is no different as UCLA was able to get their biggest plays on the ground. After racking up 114 yards rushing in the first quarter and a half, the Bruins added a field goal and a touchdown on a fourth and goal to take a 17-3 lead. Not out of the game just yet, Washington mounted a touchdown drive of their own with quarterback Dylan Morris finding Odunze for a 26 yard score putting the Huskies to within a touchdown with just 56 seconds remaining in the half. UCLA would take a 17-10 lead into the locker room.
The Husky offense desperately needed to get something going in the running game in the second half. The first half ended with them having a total of just four rushing yards, while UCLA put up 133 yards rushing. After forcing a punt, the Washington offense started to get into a rhythm with their two seniors in the backfield. Kamari Pleasant busted free for a 33-yard run setting up the Huskies deep the Bruin red zone. It took a fourth down plunge by Morris but the Huskies were able to tie the game with 6:55 in the third quarter at 17.
The game would stay tied going into the fourth quarter and Washington looked better running the ball. Unfortunately, Morris had issues with accuracy and failed to move the chains for the Husky offense. UCLA went back to what had been successful which was running the football. Getting their quarterback involved in the running game as well was tough for the Husky defense to stop. UCLA went 90 yards in 5:47 on the touchdown drive that was capped off with Thompson-Robinson hitting his tight end Greg Dulcich for a 9-yard touchdown giving the Bruins a 24-17 lead with just over 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
With Washington needing a touchdown to tie the game, Morris’ struggles continued. This time in the form of his second interception of the ball game as he tried to go deep down the field to freshman receiver Jaylen McMillen.
With the success UCLA was able to find in the running game, the clock was their friend as they looked to grind out a tough fought victory handing Washington their second straight loss and dropping them to a 2-4 record at the halfway point of the season. Final score UCLA 24, Washington 17.
With this loss, the Huskies find themselves in jeopardy of becoming bowl ineligible if they don’t find a way to turn this season around. They have a short week as Washington will face Arizona in a Friday night game in Tucson.