Notebook | Good news after scary fourth-quarter injury
In the postgame gloom of Washington's stunning 28-27 loss to Brigham Young was one some very good news: Huskies safety Darin Harris apparently...
Seattle Times staff reporters
In the postgame gloom of Washington's stunning 28-27 loss to Brigham Young was one some very good news: Huskies safety Darin Harris apparently escaped major injury after a scary incident early in the fourth quarter.
Harris, a fifth-year senior from Decatur High School in Federal Way, fell face down while chasing BYU tight end Dennis Pitta, who made the catch for a 22-yard completion with 13:24 left. Harris lay motionless for several minutes before being strapped onto a backboard and lifted into an ambulance.
He was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where tests showed no serious neck injury. Instead, the major worry was a concussion of unknown severity.
"Right now, I think the outlook for Darin Harris is very good," said Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. "It was very close, but I think he'll be all right."
Willingham noted that Harris was "moving and wanting to get back in there and play" as he was taken away.
Still, for a few minutes there was an eerie silence on the field, with memories still strong of the Curtis Williams tragedy in 2000. While UW coaches and players gathered on one knee along the sideline, Harris' mother, Valarie, ran down from the stands onto the field. After being momentarily stopped by a security guard, she ran nearly the length of the field to her son and hopped into the ambulance as it drove away.
Washington players said it was hard at first when the game restarted.
"Anybody who gets hurt, the air just kind of gets taken out of us," said Tripper Johnson, who took over most of the plays for Harris at safety the rest of the game. "But injuries do happen in games, so it's one of those things — we've go to back right back. It's in the back of our minds that he got hurt, but you also have to step back and get that out of our heads and move on."
Five plays after Harris was injured, BYU's Harvey Unga appeared on the way to a go-ahead touchdown but was hit hard at the goal line by Nate Williams, forcing a fumble recovered in the end zone by Johnson that left the game tied at 21.
"It kind of hit home to me," said quarterback Jake Locker, recalling his scare last year at Oregon State when he injured his neck and was taken off on a stretcher. "We all understand that it's part of the game. We did a little prayer for him, wished him the best. You think about him and it motivates you a little bit."
After the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Locker forced UW into a 35-yard try for the extra point to tie the game with two seconds left, BYU coaches decided to go all out for the block.
"I asked [assistant coach] Paul Tidwell if there was any chance they would have the nerve to fake it and he said, 'There's always a chance,"' said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "So I said 'all out rush.' And the players nodded like they believed they could block it. They were smiling."
Defensive end Jan Jorgensen got credit for the block.
Jorgensen pointed out that BYU beat UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl last year 17-16 by blocking a 28-yard field goal on the final play.
"It's the same thing that happened in the Las Vegas Bowl last year," he said. "He [Mendenhall] sent everybody all out. And we got a great push. Early in the game on some of the PATs, I was squeaking through a little bit between that guard and that tackle. And so I knew that if I came out hard and low, I would be able to get through. It was just a matter of if I would be able to penetrate deep enough to get the kick and luckily I was able to. Stuck out my left hand and the ball hit me right in my left hand."
BYU shreds defense
Quarterback Max Hall of BYU shredded the UW defense for 338 yards, completing 30 of 41 passes. The junior threw three touchdown passes and was not sacked. The Huskies gave up 475 total yards and forced just two punts.
Washington defensive coordinator Ed Donatell flashed a lot of different defensive looks, alternating often between a 4-3 and a 3-4, the kind of variety the Huskies didn't often show last season.
"Our purpose is to add mental pressure in the offense in their preparation," Donatell said. "And also to utilize our personnel."
Said Hall, "They played us totally different from the way they played Oregon. We kind of had to figure it out as we went.
Hall said the Huskies focused on stopping receiver Austin Collie, forcing Hall to go to tight end Dennis Pitta, and also keyed on running back Unga. Unga had 23 carries for 136 yards, and Pitta had 10 catches, 148 yards.
Freeman gets chance
The Huskies began the game thin at running back, with sophomore Brandon Johnson unable to suit up with a leg injury. Things got worse when starter Chris Polk left in the second quarter with a dislocated shoulder.
But in Polk's absence, true freshman David Freeman stepped in to give the Huskies' running game a boost, rushing for 30 yards on six carries.
Washington gained 108 yards rushing in the second half after being held to 25 in the first.
"In the first half, I think it was solely Jake scrambling," Willingham said. "But I think in the second half, David Freeman seemed to find some things, see some things, hit some things pretty well, and I think we got a little better then."
• Freshman tight end Kavario Middleton finished with four catches and 30 yards despite leaving the game for a while with a right knee sprain and said he feels more comfortable.
• Mendenhall wore rain gear Saturday, but it wasn't because he was expecting a downpour on a perfect 70-degree day of sunshine. The BYU coach said he wore the same pants against Oregon and UCLA. "I know I'm going to regret saying that," he said with a laugh.
• Brigham Young converted 12 of 14 third downs. Washington was 9 for 15 and 1 for 1 on fourth down.
• Huskies punter Jared Ballman had a good day, averaging 47.8 and booting a 64-yarder that was nearly downed before going into the end zone for a touchback. He also had a 58-yarder downed at the 3.
• After the failed PAT and with two seconds left, Washington initially tried an onside kick, hoping for a recovery and a quick timeout to have a chance for one final play, Willingham said. Washington recovered the kick but was called offsides. With just one second left, Willingham said there wasn't time for an onside kick, so the Huskies kicked it through the end zone.
|Washington's defense is giving up more yards and points per game this season than last year:|
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