Powell’s late pick-6 helps No. 5 UW Huskies survive ASU 15-7
Oct 21, 2023, 11:34 PM | Updated: Oct 22, 2023, 12:57 am
SEATTLE (AP) — Mishael Powell returned a fourth-quarter interception 89 yards for a touchdown and the No. 5 UW Huskies overcame Michael Penix Jr.’s three turnovers to beat Arizona State 15-7 on Saturday night.
Powell stepped in front of Trenton Bourget’s throw on fourth-and-3 from the 12 and sprinted down the left sideline to help Washington (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) win its 14th straight, sidestepping Bourget near the 20 for a 12-7 lead with 8:11 left.
“It’s my job in that scenario to take him, but for a while throughout the game they were just motioning him and just running him off,” Powell said. “I could just tell by the demeanor of No. 7 (Sun Devils receiver Melquan Stovall) that he looked a little more like determined. I said, ‘OK, he looks a little locked in, he might be getting the ball.’”
MADNESS IN SEATTLE 🤯 pic.twitter.com/CXKcwTtPXN
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 22, 2023
The Huskies desperately needed the stop after the Sun Devils (1-6, 0-4) intercepted two of Penix’s passes in the first half and recovered a botched handoff to take a 7-3 lead. It was their first regular season win without an offensive touchdown since 2001 and the first overall since the 2018 Pac-12 championship.
“Don’t blink, don’t flinch,” Powell said.
Arizona State handcuffed Penix, the Heisman Trophy hopeful and nation’s top passer, like no other defense this season. His fumbled handoff late in the first half helped the Sun Devils take a 7-0 lead on Cam Skattebo’s 4-yard dive.
Penix then drove the Huskies 73 yards with the help of a roughing-the-passer call, but failed to pick up a first down and settled for Grady Gross’ 25-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at halftime.
Penix, who leads the nation in total offense and passing yards per game, had thrown 20 touchdowns to three interceptions this season. He entered the game No. 1 in total offense and passing yards after leading the Huskies to a last-play victory over No. 9 Oregon last week. But he struggled against the Sun Devils from the start, needing a visit from the trainer after that roughing call left him bloodied in the first half.
“It was just a busted lip, that ain’t nothing,” Penix said when asked about the moment.
“We had adversity early in the game,” the Indiana transfer said about the struggles. “I can’t turn the ball over and put the team in that position.”
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 22, 2023
Arizona has lost six straight after a season-opening win over FCS Southern Utah, matching the team record set in 2009.
Ro Torrence snagged Penix’s poor pass on the Huskies’ first possession, though Arizona State failed to convert when Dario Longhetto’s 31-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the right upright. Longhetto also had a second-half attempt blocked.
Arizona State decided not to go for a field goal on the decisive fourth-and-3, coach Kenny Dillingham said, because it had too many offensive linemen injured to keep an attempt from being blocked.
Penix drove the Huskies down to the 7 early in the second quarter. But linebacker Caleb McCullough tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and Shamari Simmons intercepted it at the 3. Simmons added a fumble recovery on Washington’s next drive at the Huskies 47 after Penix botched the handoff to Dillon Johnson to set up the Sun Devils’ first score.
Washington had little more success in the second half, hearing boos from fans as two late drives petered out. A pass-interference call helped move the Huskies to the Arizona State 27 early in the third quarter, but Penix was 2 of 5 on the drive and Washington settled for a 47-yard field goal to make it 7-6.
The Sun Devils were putting together a gritty drive before Bourguet’s interception.
“Right now, we’re trying to find different ways to lose football games,” Dillingham said. “We’re playing good enough to win, but that was another way to lose.”
Gross added a 24-yard field goal. Penix was 27 of 42 for 275 yards and the two picks, while the Huskies were outgained 341-288. Bourguet passed for 196 yards with the interception.
“They were disrupting our flow,” said Huskies coach Kalen DoBoer, who improved to 12-0 at home. “We’d make a big play and then have a net negative loss, which is something that we do actually a really good job of most of the time throughout the year. We’ll watch the film. I’m sure there’s some learning moments out there that we’ll watch, but there’s going to be growth because of it.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had beaten the Huskies 13 out of 15 times this century, so the punch in the nose they delivered wasn’t unexpected. But the team desperately needed a win with three out of the next four games against ranked teams.
UW Huskies: Washington needs a running game. Bad. They finished with 13 yards rushing, an effort that got worse as the game went along. The lack of a credible rush allowed the Sun Devils’ linebackers to drop into coverage and bracket Huskies wide receivers in a soft zone all night.
Arizona State: Hosts Washington State on Saturday.
UW Huskies: At Stanford on Saturday.
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