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Originally published September 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 6, 2008 at 9:07 PM

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UW's quarterback bold, erratic and almost beat BYU

This was Washington quarterback Jake Locker's chance to live up to the hype that surrounds him, deliver a much-needed win to a team steeped in self-doubt and quiet the chorus of detractors that surround Washington football and coach Tyrone Willingham. And Jake Locker performed in typical Jake Locker fashion. He dissected the Brigham Young Cougars on a 76-yard touchdown drive and a chance to tie. Then the flag came.

Seattle Times staff reporter

This was his Marques Tuiasosopo moment. It was a chance to live up to the hype that surrounds him, deliver a much-needed win to a team steeped in self-doubt and quiet the chorus of detractors that surround Washington football and coach Tyrone Willingham.

And Jake Locker performed in typical Jake Locker fashion. He dissected the Brigham Young Cougars on a 76-yard touchdown drive that consumed 3:24 minutes and gave the Huskies a chance to tie the game on the ensuing PAT with two seconds left in regulation.

Perhaps offensive coordinator Tim Lappano put it best: "He missed some throws down the stretch that he had wide open, but he kept competing. He showed a lot of grit and determination to get his team down to the end zone, and he scored. That's what he's supposed to do in that situation."

At times, he was bold and brilliant. At times, he was erratic. He overthrew his target three times. Receivers dropped three passes. He was sacked and penalized for intentional grounding.

And when things looked darkest, Locker threw a 20-yard dart to wideout D'Andre Goodwin, scampered for 15 yards and scored the game's final touchdown on a 3-yard scramble with two seconds remaining.

But a funny thing happened along the way to his first come-from-behind victory.

After crossing the end zone, Locker turned toward his teammates and flipped the football high in the air as he was mobbed by running back Willie Griffin, guard Jordan White-Frisbee, offensive tackle Cody Habben and receiver Jermaine Kearse. An official standing near the celebration tossed his flag in the air and penalized the Huskies 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

And just like that, all the good that Locker had done had dissipated and a game headed for overtime ended in a cruel 28-27 defeat when Cougars defensive end Jan Jorgensen blocked the ensuing extra point from kicker Ryan Perkins.

It didn't matter that Locker was part magician, part quarterback in the final minutes. His 62 rushing yards — the second time he's led the UW in rushing — became a side note.

This time, his critics won't debate his 17-for-32 passing for 204 yards or his four sacks.

This time, Locker's fiery demeanor and emotion, traits Huskies fans love, were contributing factors that kept the Huskies (0-2) winless and allowed 15th-ranked BYU (2-0) to remain perfect.

"I have the most respect for the guys we played against," Locker said. "I was just excited. I like to play the game with emotion, and it got the best of me tonight."

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Inside the locker room, Locker apologized to coaches and teammates.

"He didn't have to do that — at least I didn't need to hear it," Kearse said. "But that's Jake. He felt he needed to say something, and that's fine. But everybody here knows that we wouldn't have been in a position to win the game without him."

It's almost eerie how one drive summarizes Locker's career.

"He showed it all," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We had about three different plans, and none of which I would say were dominant."

On the opposing sideline, Cougars quarterback Max Hall watched in awe.

"As a quarterback, it's awesome to see that," he said. "It's awesome to see a guy lead his team down the field and score and put his team in a position to win. I'm sitting there as a nervous wreck.

"He's obviously a great quarterback. He's a great football player. You want a guy on your team who can put you in a position to win the game, and he did that for his team."

Said Jorgensen: "That was a long drive. That drive took four minutes off the clock. And trying to chase Jake Locker all around during that four minutes is not an easy thing to do. He was incredible. You almost feel bad for the guy. Almost."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278

Looking at Locker
Jake Locker's passing and rushing stats are down slightly from 2007:
PC PA PI Yds TD Game No. Yds Avg. TD
17 32 0 204 1 BYU 18 62 3.4 2
12 28 0 103 0 Oregon 16 57 3.6 0
13.5 30 0 153.5 0.5 2008 avg. 17 59.5 3.5 1
12.9 27.3 1.3 171.8 1.2 2007 avg. 14 82.2 5.7 1.1

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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