Rankin runs wild as Huskies beat Cal, 37-23
Louis Rankin ran 21 times for 224 yards and a touchdown in less than three quarters as the Huskies upset California 37-23 on Saturday ...
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
None of them would ever say they didn't miss Jake Locker.
But it took the Washington Huskies only one play Saturday -- a 46-yard run by Louis Rankin up the middle, then down the sideline -- to realize that on this day, they were going to be just fine without him.
"When that happens the first play of the game, that definitely opens your eyes up that man, we can really get this done," said offensive tackle Chad Macklin. "It's a great feeling when that happens."
It continued all day long as the UW offensive line dominated up front to lead Washington to a feel-good 37-23 win over the California Golden Bears in front of 60,005 at Husky Stadium.
Without Locker and with a hard rain pouring at kickoff -- the Huskies streamlined their offense to emphasize a power running game and made it work to the tune of 334 yards, with Rankin getting 224 in 2 ½ quarters.
UW (4-7 overall, 2-6 Pac-10) also got some timely plays from its defense and special teams to beat Cal for the first time since 2001 and show that while the Huskies bowl hopes may be over, their season isn't.
"That was like a Husky day, a Dawg Day Afternoon," said senior defensive tackle Jordan Reffett. "It was fun playing out there in that weather and with some big sticks, some great defense and running the football."
UW drove 71 yards for a touchdown the first time it had the ball to take a 7-0 lead, then after stopping Cal three-and-out, drove 87 yards in 13 plays to take a 14-0 lead. The Huskies, with Carl Bonnell replacing Locker at quarterback, threw only two passes for 19 yards on those two drives.
"With the offensive line pushing the defense like that, you don't have to do a whole lot else," Bonnell said.
UW coach Tyrone Willingham said the Huskies had decided California's defensive front wasn't quite to the caliber of past years, especially with starting defensive tackle Matt Malele out with an injury. Willingham said the Huskies also added some misdirection plays that seemed to work well.
"With Jake down, we knew it was going to be more on the offensive line," Macklin said. "And then when we found out it was going to be rainy weather and soggy, we knew we had to keep the ball on the ground and that it was going to be up to us."
Rankin did his part, as well, scooting through the holes quickly and then turning in some of his trademark jukes, zigging and zagging his way for another 46-yard run in the third quarter before leaving with a hip pointer. It was his second 200-yard game in three weeks (he had 255 against Stanford) and he became the first UW running back since Rashaan Shehee in 1997 to top the 1,000-yard mark for a season -- he has 1,077 with two games left.
"I can't remember any run where they got any penetration into the backfield," Rankin said.
With Rankin sidelined the final quarter-and-a-half, true freshman Brandon Johnson took over to rush for 114 yards in the second half and 121 overall.
California closed to one point twice, at 14-13 and 21-20. But each time UW responded, with a little help from a reeling Cal team (the 6-5 Bears have lost five of six) that didn't seem into it from the beginning. Because of a mixup by co-captain Thomas DeCoud during the coin toss, Cal ended up having to kick off to start both halves.
The Bears also had three turnovers, two late in the second quarter that led to quick UW scores, the latter coming on a muffed punt with just 35 seconds left. Officials initially ruled the ball hadn't hit a Cal player before overturning it on review. Bonnell hit Marcel Reece from 12 yards out with 12 seconds left to put UW ahead 28-20 at halftime.
"That was huge," Willingham said.
UW opened the second half by driving for a field goal to go ahead 31-20. Cal responded by driving to the Washington 1-yard line. But on second-and-goal, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim broke through to tackle Justin Forsett for a 2-yard loss and the Bears were forced to kick a field goal, which seemed to break the Bears' will for good.
"We couldn't stop the run, obviously," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford. "Anytime someone runs the ball like that on you, it's going to be a long day."
UW ran 18 plays in the fourth quarter without throwing a pass, methodically marching off the last 5:10.
The Huskies expect Locker -- who suffered a neck strain last week -- to return for the Apple Cup, and with him, surely, will return a lot of the quarterback runs and scrambles that only he can do.Saturday, they did his work for him.
"The game plan was just to line up and run the ball," said center Juan Garcia. "Just line up and play football. That's all we did."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
|It takes two to tango|
|For the 17th time in school history Saturday, two Huskies rushed for at least 100 yards in a game. A look at the past five to accomplish the feat:|
|Louis Rankin, Brandon Johnson||224, 121||California, 2007|
|Louis Rankin, Isaiah Stanback||145, 102||San Jose St., 2006|
|Shelton Sampson, Kenny James||131, 104||Oregon, 2003|
|Rich Alexis, Braxton Cleman||124, 105||Washington St., 2000|
|Rich Alexis, Paul Arnold||107, 102||Oregon St., 2000|
|Source: University of Washington|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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