Huskies' Chris Polk was confident big pass play would work
Washington tailback Chris Polk caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Huskies quarterback Keith Price that was a key to UW's 31-23 win over California. The Huskies had practiced the play all week and Polk says he was confident it would work against the Bears.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Chris Polk never doubted the play was going to work.
"I just thought about which way I was going to throw my Dubs up," said Polk, referring to the "W" hand sign UW players make when they score — as Polk did Saturday on a 70-yard pass from Keith Price that keyed Washington's 31-23 win over California at Husky Stadium.
Price, though, had a different thought going through his head as the play was called early in the fourth quarter, remembering when it hadn't worked so well in practice during the week.
"The first time I (threw it to) Chris it hit his ankles," Price recalled. "But this one he was wide open and I got it there."
Indeed he did, hitting a wide-open Polk in stride for a touchdown that gave UW its final points of the day with 12:13 left to play, and just enough margin to hold off the Bears.
The Huskies had practiced the play all week, thinking they might have a chance to get Polk open out of the backfield. While Polk is known now as a tailback, he played a lot of receiver in high school, and it was initially thought he might play that position at UW.
"We thought we could get something in a third-and-long situation based on some of the coverages they were giving, and as the game went along it was kind of holding true," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian.
Specifically, the Huskies saw that Cal tended to leave the middle of the field open in some of its zone coverages.
Polk, lined up in the backfield, had to run around linebacker D.J. Holt and said, "I knew the middle of the field would be open, so I knew if I got around him without him hitting me it would be wide open, so I had to really turn on the jets on that play."
After Polk caught the pass, he slowed up as he reached the goal line. But it wasn't showboating, he said, instead, "I had to slow down because of the cramps."
Said Price: "Oh man, he better have scored, because I was going to talk about it to him all day at home."
Timu appears fine
There was a scary moment late in the third quarter when UW redshirt freshman linebacker John Timu was carted off the field following a tackle on Cal running back Isi Sofele.
Timu was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center. Sarkisian, though, said it was precautionary and said after the game "the results are coming back normal" and that Timu would be released by Sunday at the latest.
UW linebacker Garret Gilliland called it "kind of a sobering moment to see your own fellow player on a stretcher like that. It is never a good feeling."
Huskies middle linebacker Cort Dennison said, "That really lit us a spark. That's one of our guys and when he went down we wanted to do it for him."
Kids step up
Timu's was one of three injuries to UW defenders that left the Huskies playing with younger players as the game wore on. Defensive end Hau'oli Jamora left with a knee sprain of unknown severity and cornerback Greg Ducre left with a concussion.
Redshirt freshman Jamaal Kearse, younger brother of receiver Jermaine Kearse, stepped in for Timu, and finished with four tackles, one on the second-and-goal play on the final drive.
Redshirt freshman Josh Shirley was among those who filled in for Jamora, and he had his first career sack and forced a fumble in the fourth quarter.
"A lot of guys had opportunities to step in and do some things and they performed," said Sarkisian.
No second thoughts
Cal coach Jeff Tedford defended a decision in the second quarter to accept a holding penalty on UW's Austin Seferian-Jenkins that pushed the Huskies back to their 31 and gave them a third-and-11 play. Declining the penalty, Cal would have forced a fourth-and-one situation by the Huskies at the UW 41.
"They (the Huskies) would have gone for it," said Tedford. "I'd take third-and-11 over fourth-and-six inches any day."
But Price hit Kevin Smith for a 12-yard gain to keep alive a drive that ended with a Huskies touchdown for a 21-10 lead.
• Cal safety Sean Cattouse, on not allowing the season to get away from the Bears after a loss to open Pac-12 play: "There are not going to be any morale issues at all. The leaders of the team are going to make sure that's not an issue."
• The 90-yard pass play from Zach Maynard to Keenan Allen in the first quarter was the longest aerial in school history, topping the 88-yarder from Joe Roth to Wesley Walker in 1976.
• Cal defensive tackle Trevor Guyton, a Redmond High grad who had the Bears' only two sacks, said, "It just hurts, leaving my college career and not beating (the Huskies) for three years now. It's not a good feeling."
• Will Mahan, who hadn't punted since the opener last year against BYU after injuring his knee, handled the punting duties and averaged 39 yards, with both kicks downed inside the 20.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Times staff reporter Bud Withers contributed to this article.
|Short of 100 yards, but good for two wins|
|In six of his past eight games, Chris Polk has rushed for more than 100 yards. The two games he didn't were both against California. The Huskies won both games.|
|Nov. 18, 2010||UCLA||W, 24-7||26||138||1|
|Nov. 27, 2010||@California||W, 16-13||18||86||1|
|Dec. 4, 2010||@Wash. State||W, 35-28||29||284||2|
|Dec. 30, 2010||Nebraska||W, 19-7||34||177||1|
|Sept. 3, 2011||Eastern Washington||W, 30-27||23||125||0|
|Sept. 10, 2011||Hawaii||W, 40-32||22||107||1|
|Sept. 17, 2011||@Nebraska||L, 51-38||22||130||1|
|Sept. 24, 2011||California||W, 31-23||20||60||1|
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