Huskies let good first half go to waste in loss to Sun Devils
As his regular halftime comments on the Husky radio network concluded Saturday night, Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham vowed...
Seattle Times staff reporter
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Entering their locker room at halftime Saturday night, the Washington Huskies vowed this week would be different.
There would be no third-quarter collapse on this night. Washington coach Tyrone Willingham even promised as much in his halftime comments on the Husky Radio Network.
Then the third quarter started, and it was the same old, same old as 14th-ranked Arizona State scored three quick touchdowns to turn a close game into an eventual 44-20 pasting of the Huskies in front of 64,347 at Sun Devil Stadium.
"I really don't know how to explain it," Willingham said of the persistent third-quarter troubles.
Washington has been outscored 56-0 in the third quarter in the past five games.
Huskies coaches said this one was particularly disappointing because it had been a point of emphasis during the week.
"I thought we were poised and in position to have a really good third quarter," Willingham said.
It didn't happen.
"We just had a meltdown in the third quarter," said UW quarterback Jake Locker after what was as discouraging a defeat as any the Huskies have had this season.
The Huskies fell to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Pac-10 play and now need to win five of their last seven games to achieve their goal of a winning season and a bowl game.
Willingham said that while he worried about his team's mentality, he also thought the Huskies had it in them to turn the season around.
"The key is to just keep working and keep working and good things will happen," Willingham said.
But not without somehow figuring out what is going so wrong in the third quarter, when UW inevitably comes apart at the seams, giving up big plays on defense and failing to make anything happen on offense.
Washington led 17-13 at halftime but a Locker fumble, some untimely penalties and a missed field goal killed the offense in that quarter.
Arizona State took quick advantage with a Rudy Carpenter touchdown pass and two long touchdown runs -- 57 yards by Dmitri Nance and 76 yards by Keegan Herring.
The pair were filling in for starter Ryan Torain, who injured his foot in the first half.
Long runs by the opponent has been another year-long Husky foible, and like the third-quarter issue is something no one seems to know how to fix.
"It's just missed tackles, missed opportunities," said UW linebacker Dan Howell, who missed a tackle on the long run by Nance.
It continued a recent trend for the Huskies of staying in games for a half, only to see them get away in the final two quarters.
The third quarter continued what has been a happier trend for the Sun Devils (7-0, 4-0) who have now outscored their opponents 82-17 in the third quarter this season.
The Huskies, coming off a bye week, looked like a revived team through much of the first half, taking a 17-13 lead behind a running game that looked as good as it has since the opening victory at Syracuse, and a few big plays. Arizona State was that close only after kicking a field goal on the final play when one second was put back on the clock.
But the first-half fun became a faint memory as ASU ran away with things in the second half.
Typifying what was to come, Locker was sacked and fumbled the ball away on UW's first drive of the second half, with ASU taking over at the Washington 35.
Locker said he was trying to tuck the ball back into his body when he lost control.
It took ASU just five plays to turn it into a touchdown, the score coming on a 21-yard pass from Rudy Carpenter to Rudy Burgess on a third-and-13 play.
Arizona State grabbed a 27-17 lead later in the quarter on the touchdown run by Nance.
After UW's Ryan Perkins missed a 37-yard field goal on what was Washington's only sustained drive of the quarter, Herring then dashed 76 yards for a score on ASU's next possession, simply outracing the UW secondary as he raced down the sideline to put ASU ahead 34-17.
"I thought that was when the wind came out of our sails," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano of the missed field goal.
The Huskies finished with eight penalties, at least four of which were simple procedure penalties on offense.
Of the penalties, Lappano said, "How can you say you are being focused when those things happen? ... We're our own worst enemy. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot."
Washington rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries in the first half but finished with just 146 on 32, indicative of the way the game changed in the second half, when the Huskies were outscored 31-3 overall.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The Huskies were held scoreless in the third quarter for a fifth consecutive week and have been outscored 56-0 since a 21-0 advantage in the opener:|
|At Arizona State||0||21|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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