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Foster's "pick-Nick" by the lake
Dawgs a "shoo-in" all the way
Malamute, 10 October 2009

With 2:37 left, Mason Foster intercepted a deflected ball off the shoe of Delashaun Dean and took it 37 yards to the house to give Washington (3-3, 2-1) an unbelievable 36-33 victory over Arizona (3-2, 1-1) at Husky Stadium before 64,621 surprised, but mostly elated fans.

"I don't know if [I've ever seen a game] that crazy," UW coach Steve Sarkisian was quoted as saying. "I mean an interception off a guy's foot returned for a touchdown? I don't think so."

This "craziness" might have been about a youthful fighter who refused to quit, sent to the mat countless times in seemingly the fight of his life, a fighter who refused to stay down, a fighter who stared obliquely at hopelessness to rise from the forgotten and land a haymaker -- an improbable ending to the fight in the movie "Cool hand Luke," if you will.

The zaniness was about a Washington defense that bent but never broke; it held Arizona to four field-goal attempts on four drives that carried to the Dawgs' 12 or farther and turned the 'Cats away on a goal-line stand near the end of the second quarter to preserve a four-point lead.

It was about an team that scored two touchdowns in 18 seconds to win the game. It was about a quarterback, Jake Locker, who took it all the way in from 56 yards out to knot the score at 7 and then later in the game throw three touchdown passes and, after Foster's interception return, complete a pass for, what was at that time, a critical two-point conversion.

Foster's "pick-Nick" by the lake was  a shocking conclusion to what had been a dominating performance by UA in the second half. Down 14-10 at half, and aided by Washington miscues on special teams and a sputtering offense, UA scored 17 unanswered points to take a 27-14 lead with 2:55 to go in the third quarter.    

Aiding this 17-point surge: (1) UA returned the second-half kickoff to UW's 47; this led to a touchdown; (2) UW's Will Mahan dropped a punt snap to set up an Arizona field goal; and (3) The Huskies' Quinton Richardson muffed a kickoff to set up bad field position and another Wildcats' TD that followed UW's 3-and-out and a 29-yard punt by Mahan, which gave the ball to the 'Cats on the UW 36.

Then UW's sputtering offense came to life, aided by a personal foul that gave the Huskies possession on the UA 39. Finishing off a 2-play drive, Locker threw a a 29-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aguilar at the 2:04 mark in the third and narrowed the lead to 27-21.

But Arizona countered with a 29-yard field goal off the foot of Alex Zendejas to give the Wildcats a 30-21 boost at 13:20 in the fourth quarter.

Thereafter, Washington managed just one first down and had to punt the ball away to Arizona, turning the ball back at the 11-minute mark.

Then UA coach Mike Stoops followed the traditional script in football, take time off the clock and score.

Starting form their own 28, the Wildcats managed to take 6:38 off the clock on a 73-yard, 12-play drive; it resulted in a Zendejas 24-yard field goal that gave the 'Cats a 33-21 lead with 4:22 to go.

The game looked hopelessly out of reach for the Huskies. You know, 12-points down and, at one point near the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter, Arizona had run off 70 plays to Washington's 40.

But "hopelessness" didn't deter the never-give-up kids ; they mounted a 6-play, 59-yard drive culminated by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Locker to Kavario Middleton. There was 2:55 to go, the lead narrowed to five points, 33-28.

With 2:49 left in the game, Arizona got the ball back on its own 39. Then on a bubble screen, a play that had worked all night for him, UA quarterback Nick Foles made the poor throw to Dean, which bounced off Dean's left hand and then his left foot and was returned by Foster for the go-ahead touchdown. Locker hit Jermaine Kearse in the end zone on a vital two-point conversion making the score 36-33, Huskies, with 2:37 left to go.

Foles and company got the ball back at their own 28 at the 2:29 mark. With more than enough time left for a field goal to tie the game, UA worked the ball to the UW 38, just five yards out of Zendejas's range, this with 1:02 left to go and a 2nd and 3. On the next play, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim sacked Foles for 5 yards. On a 4th and 8 at the UW 43, Foles threw an interception to Desmond Trufant, and victory was sealed.

It took Mike Stoops five agonizing years to stanch the bleeding at 'Zona, wresting the 'Cats from the likes of Dante's inferno, and he didn't want to let this game get away or figuratively he was back to square one, giving ground to what he might call an "upstart whippersnapper." Most likely, in the back of Mike's mind, Sark must pay his dues, too, and use Stoops' escape plan from Hades as a benchmark for his own. This plan starts with recruiting quality linemen on both sides of the ball.

Unfortunately for Stoops, Sark devised a plan to short-circuit the three mouths of Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the gates of hell, by instilling an enthusiasm and an unwillingness to quit in his players that prevail during an entire game, no matter how unlikely victory may seem. Still, that doesn't mean that Sarkisian need not recruit quality linemen. The stats below, too ugly to regurgitate, show a pressing need.

This undaunted team deserves better than its foreboding statistics portend for the rest of the season. Everybody loves a Cool Hand Luke. 

----------

The pun in our headline ("pick-Nick") wasn't meant to marginalize the effort of Nick Foles, who played an outstanding game; neither was the sub-head with the pun "shoo-in" meant to demean the Dawgs' courageous effort. It's the way we do things on this site in, um, an attempt to be different.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
UA 7 3 17 6 33
UW 7 7 7 15 36


Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
6:51 UA TD Greg Nwoko 12-yard run; Alex Zendejas kick. UA, 7-0
4:55 UW TD Jake Locker 56-yard run; Erik Folk kick. T, 7-7
2nd Qtr
14:55 UA FG Zendejas 18-yard boot. UA, 10-7
6:30 UW TD Locker 5-yard pass to Devin Aguilar; Folk kick. UW, 14-10
3rd Qtr
11:49 UA TD Nick Foles 9-yard pass to David Roberts; Zendejas boot. UA, 17-14
9:31 UA FG Zendejas 23-yard kick. UA, 20-14
2:55 UA TD Foles 2-yard run; Zendejas kick. UA, 27-14
2:04 UW TD Locker 29-yard pass to Aguilar; Folk kick. UA, 27-21
4th Qtr
13:20 UA FG Zendejas 29-yarder. UA, 30-21
4:22 UA FG Zendejas 24-yarder UA,  33-21
2:55 UW TD Locker 29-yard pass to Kavario Middleton; Folk kick. UA, 33-28
2:37 UW TD Mason Foster 37-yard touchdown return; Locker pass to Jermaine Kearse for 2 points UW, 36-33

 

Statistic UA UW
Total First Downs 26 14
  Rushing 6 5
  Passing 18 6
  Penalty 2 3
Total Net Yards 461 256
Net Yards Passing 384 140
Net Yards Rushing 77 116
Completions-att-int 39-53-2 12-23-1
Punts, yards, average 1-44, 44.0 4-149, 37.2
Sacks by (number, yards) 2-9 1-5
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 6-140-0 8-111-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 2-(-5)-0 0-0-0
Kickoff Yards 8-419 6-358
Net Yards per kickoff 38.5 36.3
Average yards per kickoff 52.4 59.7
Touchbacks (kickoffs) 0 0
Third-down conversions 8-16 5-11
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 1-14-0 2-69-1
Penalties, no., Yards 8-81 4-44
Fumbles; number/lost 2-0 0-0
Time of Possession  39:19 20:41

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Arizona          
Nick Foles (133.12) 39 53 384 1 2
           
Washington          
Jake Locker (137.65) 12 23 140 3 1
           
Arizona Rushing No. Yds TDs Long  
Greg Nwoko 16 54 1 12  
Nic Grigsby 5 13 0 6  
Travis Cobb 2 6 0 4  
Nick Booth 1 4 0 4  
Nick Foles 6 0 1 2  
           
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Jake Locker 11 92 1 56  
Chris Polk 9 34 0 17  
Demitrius Bronson 2 4 0 3  
TEAM 1 -2 0 0  
Will Mahan 1 -12 0 0  
           
'Cats Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
David Roberts 12 138 1 21
David Douglas 6 62 0 26  
Delashaun Dean 6 51 0 14  
Mike Turner 6 43 0 15  
Greg Nwoko 4 21 0 7  
Juron Criner 2 47 0 29  
A. J. Simmons 1 23 0 23  
Nic Grigsby 1 1 0 1  
Keola Antonin 1 -2 0 0  
           
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
James Johnson 1 10 0 10  
Kavario Middleton 3 40 1 25  
Jordan Polk 2 11 0 7  
Chris Polk 1 8 0 8  
Chris Izbicki 1 6 0 6  
Jermaine Kearse 1 22 0 22  
           
Punting punts yds long Avg
Keenyn Crier 1 44 44 44.0
           
Washington          
   
Will Mahan 4 149 47 37.2  
Attendance: 61,621          

Richard Linde, aka Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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