Fourth-quarter collapse leaves Huskies frustrated
A washington game-day tradition recognizes a former player as a Husky Legend at the end of third quarter. This week's honoree was safety...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Arizona TDs over 25 yards
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A Washington game-day tradition recognizes a former player as a Husky Legend at the end of third quarter. This week's honoree was safety Lawyer Milloy, now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
If only the Huskies could have found a way for him to play in the fourth quarter.
Like the rest of the 61,124 in attendance, Milloy could only watch helplessly as the Huskies collapsed in the final 15 minutes to suffer an unfathomable 48-41 defeat against the Arizona Wildcats.
Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama threw for three of his five touchdowns in the final 11 minutes, 32 seconds of the game, and the Wildcats outscored the Huskies 22-6 in the fourth quarter to deal the Huskies their sixth consecutive defeat. Tuitama finished with 510 yards passing, the most in Husky Stadium history, the most ever against UW, and tied for seventh-most in Pac-10 history.
"Five-hundred-and-ten yards — that's embarrassing," said Huskies strong safety Mesphin Forrester. "That should never happen to the University of Washington. That should never happen to our secondary. That's embarrassing. We're going to fight hard this week to make sure that never happens again."
The Huskies, however, are running out of weeks. Washington (2-6 overall, 0-5 Pac-10) need to win its final five games, including three road games and a home date with California, to finish with a winning record and a bowl game, the team's stated preseason goals.
"I think it goes without saying that this one is very, very difficult," said Tyrone Willingham, who is 9-22 as Washington's coach. "I am extremely disappointed."
It was yet another porous performance for the UW defense, which last week allowed Oregon to gain 661 total yards, including 465 rushing. That, at least, was against a Top 5 team.
This was a reeling Arizona squad (3-6, 2-4) that came into the game amid rumblings about the future of coach Mike Stoops.
"It's horrible," said UW defensive tackle Jordan Reffett. "Today I'm feeling pretty low. It's one of those games where you've got them by the tail, and to have a collapse like that is not acceptable."
Indeed, the Huskies led 41-26 after a 1-yard TD run by Luke Kravitz with 12:52 left, riding a breakthrough performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker. Locker became the 19th quarterback in Division I-A history to throw for more than 300 yards (he had 336) and rush for more than 100 (157) in the same game.
His deepening mastery of the offense allowed Washington to gain 415 yards in the first half and take a 28-23 halftime lead. The onslaught included a 98-yard TD pass from Locker to Marcel Reece in the second quarter that is the longest play from scrimmage in UW history.
But the Huskies lost three turnovers in the first half — including a Locker fumble and interception — that allowed Arizona to stay close.
"We missed our opportunities to put this ballgame away in the first half," Willingham said.
Kravitz's score figured to close the door on the Wildcats.
Instead, Arizona used a long kickoff return and a quick 46-yard drive to cut the deficit to 41-33 with 11:32 left. On UW's next possession, Locker fumbled the ball attempting to hand it off to Louis Rankin, and Arizona took over at the 30. The Wildcats needed just four plays to score, and Tuitama then hit Mike Thomas to convert a two-point play to tie it at 41 with 9:24 left.
"We let them pass all over us," said free safety Darin Harris. "They did not have a tough time moving the ball at all."
The stunned Huskies got only one first down on their next drive before punting. Arizona responded by driving 80 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, converting three third downs on Tuitama passes, including the TD, a 27-yarder to Thomas on third-and-seven with 2:02 left. Washington's last drive ended when Antoine Cason picked off Locker at the Arizona 30 with 28 seconds left.
Washington's pass defense was thinned a bit by recent injuries to free safety Jason Wells and middle linebacker Donald Butler. And starting cornerback Byron Davenport was pulled from the game after Arizona's second play, when he was beaten for a 66-yard TD from Tuitama to Thomas, foreshadowing what was to come.
Willingham said the team tried to use man-to-man defenses and bring pressure, and also turned to zone coverages.
"No matter what we turned to, it did not give us an answer," he said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
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