UW has nothing to celebrate in controversial defeat to BYU
The Washington Huskies have had so little to celebrate in recent years that maybe they could have been excused for eagerly embracing a good time. A Pac-10 officiating crew led by referee Larry Farina, however, held hard and fast to the letter of the law. And when Jake Locker was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing the ball in the air after scoring with two seconds left, what happened next felt a little too familiar. Another devastating defeat. Moved 15 yards back, Ryan Perkins' try for the point after touchdown — basically a 35-yard field goal — was blocked, allowing Brigham Young to escape with a dramatic 28-27 nonconference football victory Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
|Huskies 2008 schedule|
|Aug. 30||at Oregon||L, 44-10|
|Sept. 6||BYU||L, 28-27|
|Sept. 13||Okla.||4:45 p.m., ESPN|
|Sept. 27||Stanford||7 p.m., FSN|
|Oct. 4||at Arizona||TBA|
|Oct. 18||Ore. St.||4 p.m., Versus|
|Oct. 25||N. Dame||5 p.m., TBA|
|Nov. 1||at USC||TBA|
|Nov. 8||Ariz. St.||TBA|
|Nov. 22||at WSU||Noon, FSN|
|Dec. 6||at Cal||TBA|
All times subject to change.
The Washington Huskies have had so little to celebrate in recent years that maybe they could have been excused for eagerly embracing a good time.
A Pac-10 officiating crew led by referee Larry Farina, however, held hard and fast to the letter of the law. And when Jake Locker was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing the ball in the air after scoring with two seconds left, what happened next felt a little too familiar.
Another devastating defeat.
Moved 15 yards back, Ryan Perkins' try for the point after touchdown — basically a 35-yard field goal — was blocked, allowing No. 15 Brigham Young to escape with a dramatic 28-27 nonconference football victory in front of 64,611 Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Washington players and coaches acknowledged what Locker did — tossing the ball in the air as he chestbumped teammate Devin Aguilar — was technically against the rules.
They just wished that maybe there could have been a little more discretion considering the time and meaning of the call.
"It's unfortunate, but it's one that they almost have to call," said Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham. "It really should be a no-call, but it's one that they have to call when they see it. ... The game is an emotional game. We cannot play it without emotion, and therefore we are going to celebrate. The key is to manufacture the right celebration that does not belittle the game or the sportsmanship that should be part of the game."
Willingham didn't think what Locker did was belittling or unsportsmanlike. But he couldn't argue that it didn't violate Rule 9, Section 2, Article 2, Part C of the NCAA rule book, which states that "throwing the ball high into the air" is an unsportsmanlike act subject to penalty.
Said Farina: "After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It is not a judgment call."
Locker said UW players had been told that the rule would be a point of emphasis this season.
"I was kind of disappointed in myself for doing that," he said. "I've never done anything like that in the past. I wasn't trying to show anybody up by doing it. That's not what I'm about."
A UW official said no protest was planned, pointing out that the rule is in the book and was simply enforced.
And as the Huskies glumly noted later, the penalty might have been a footnote had Perkins made the kick. Instead, BYU crashed the middle and left side of the line to get penetration, with defensive end Jan Jorgensen getting official credit for the block, giving the Cougars (2-0) their 12th straight victory.
Willingham said the penalty "changes everything" about the PAT kick. "I don't think there's any question about that. It made a difference, but it's still one that we count on ourselves being able to protect and get off the kick."
Later, Willingham told a reporter that a penalty could have been called on the blocked kick.
"It happened so quickly, but it looked like the pressure came right up the middle," Willingham said. "And my concern would be that there's a rule that says you can't touch the center until after one second. So it will be interesting to see exactly what happened on that play."
The bizarre ending left Washington 0-2 in what is a make-or-break season for Willingham. With Oklahoma coming here next week, the Huskies are reaching gut-check time.
Willingham can only hope the Huskies respond as they did when Locker led the Huskies on a 76-yard drive in 3:24 after BYU had scored to take the lead. Locker converted a fourth-and-10 with his legs, and a third-and-four and a second-and-19 with his arm to key the drive.
When he scored, UW appeared headed for overtime — Willingham said he never thought about going for two and the win.
"It's hard to lose when we are fighting the whole game and it's close and we have it in our grasp and we just can't pull it off," said Huskies safety Nate Williams.
The game was a seesaw affair throughout — the score was tied 7-7 at end of the first quarter, 14-14 at halftime, and 21-21 at the end of the third quarter.
After BYU took a 7-0 lead, UW rallied to go ahead 14-7 and 21-14.
But the Huskies never could really stop a BYU offense that gained 475 yards and lost a go-ahead touchdown on a fumble into the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Max Hall's third TD pass, a 15-yarder to tight end Dennis Pitta with 3:31 left, put BYU ahead 28-21 and set up the dramatic ending.
"The rules are the rules," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I'm glad that there was one play left still to decide the outcome, and I'm not sure that play or the penalty can say they determined the outcome. There was still another play left."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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