Locker drives into UW lore
Jake Locker had these four minutes to erase all the frustrations of the past 24 months. These four minutes to remind himself why he came...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Jake Locker had these four minutes to erase all the frustrations of the past 24 months. These four minutes to remind himself why he came to Washington, remind himself of all the possibilities that were here.
Four minutes to put himself in the company of all the great Washington quarterbacks, who did what he had to do in the last minutes of a big game in the late-afternoon din of Husky Stadium.
Locker had these four minutes to prove this program was back, sooner and better than anyone could have expected. Prove this to a stadium full of doubters who had been numbed by failure for nearly a decade.
Four minutes could make the memory of an 0-12 season recede like the tides. Four minutes could give this program more hope than it's had since Tui. Four minutes and Jake Locker finally could feel the joy that comes from winning a game this big on a Saturday during college-football season.
Four minutes, against third-ranked USC, that's what it took for Washington junior quarterback Jake Locker to officially become part of Huskies' lore.
"I just think he [Locker] needs to keep playing the way he's playing," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Huskies' 16-13 upset special. "He's played marvelously for us these first three games. Hopefully for us we have more moments like that, but he doesn't need that drive to say that he's a good quarterback or not. He's a tremendous leader. He's a great quarterback. He just executed that final drive."
Locker made plays that felt like miracles. Converted third downs, first with his arm and then with his legs. He led this young Washington team to a win almost nobody but the kids wearing purple thought was possible.
He took the Huskies 63 yards on 10 plays, positioned the ball in the middle of the field, watched Erik Folk calmly drill a 22-yard field goal with three seconds left, then celebrated in the midfield mayhem.
"That's when it really hit me, the implications of what we'd just done," Locker said of the postgame ode to joy. "It was crazy."
It was amazing.
Sacked on first down for a 12-yard loss, Locker, who missed the last eight games of last year's lost season with a broken thumb, converted a 21-yard, third-and-15 pass to sophomore Jermaine Kearse. The pass play wasn't even in the game plan.
"He [Sarkisian] is not shy about changing things," Locker said of his coach. "I appreciate that."
On the next third down, Locker rolled right, pump-faked a pass, ran and dived for the first down, a 4-yard gain to the Trojans 39 on third-and-two.
"This tells me he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. That's what I feel like," Kearse said of the drive. "Not a lot of quarterbacks can do what he just did out there. Jake's a tremendous athlete, and he can make a lot of plays happen."
Remember this drive.
On a day that kept getting better, on a day that began to feel as if something remarkable was going to happen, Jake Locker led the Huskies out of the darkness.
Inside of a minute, after a false start, Locker bought time with his feet, found Kearse for 19 more yards. After the pass, he was hit late, and the roughing-the-passer penalty moved the ball to the Trojans' 8.
"I was supposed to run a seam route, but I got caught up with the defender," Kearse said. "I saw Jake flush out toward my left. I just tried to get to an open spot. Jake threw a perfect pass. It went right over the defender's hands and was just laying in my hands."
After the pass and the late hit, Locker leaped to his feet and pumped his fist. This was Locker as leader. Calm in the huddle. Coolly making the right decision with the weight of the game on his shoulders.
This was the right stuff at the right time.
"I don't think this was Jake's best night," Sarkisian said, "but when we needed him, he made plays. He found a way to stay in the game."
Locker completed 21 of 35 passes for 237 yards. He was sacked four times and scored Washington's only touchdown on a 4-yard run in the first quarter.
But even after quarterbacking the drive of his life, he was typically humble in victory.
"I'm just happy to be on this team and share this moment with these guys," he said.
Eventually, the on-field celebration got so crazy and claustrophobic, Locker had trouble catching his breath. He pushed away from the mob and climbed into stands looking for his parents.
They embraced each other and embraced the moment. A Saturday like this is exactly what the Locker family anticipated when they spurned all the other suitors and chose to play football at Washington.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-464-2176
UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
Furniture & home furnishings
POST A FREE LISTING