Huskies end losing streak with 42-23 victory over Idaho
Washington ends 15-game losing streak with win at Husky Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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It finally ended at Husky Stadium on Saturday.
Washington's 15-game losing streak, tied for the longest in Pac-10 history?
Well yes, that, too, as the Huskies beat Idaho 42-23 in front of 58,980, UW's first win since defeating California 37-23 here on Nov. 17, 2007. Washington will remain tied with Oregon State in 1990-91 and 1995-96 instead of treading alone into ignominy.
"That's what we are here for, to win," said sophomore running back Johri Fogerson. "The nine months of work we did after going 0-12, for the older guys it almost brought tears to their eyes. Seeing that just makes you want win more. I love this feeling. But after having this feeling, I never want to go back to how it used to be. It just feels good to get this win and get over the hump."
What also seemed in the past after Saturday is any debate about whether Jake Locker is the guy who can lead the Huskies as far as the team around him is able.
On a perfect fall afternoon, Locker was almost perfect himself, going 17 for 25 for 253 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, and also running for another 18 yards and one score.
Locker led UW to touchdowns on its first five possessions as the Huskies eventually pulled away from the stubborn Vandals. And when it was over, Locker's passing percentage was at exactly 60 percent — 42 of 70 — the goal new coach Steve Sarkisian set for him last spring.
Asked later if the two games should answer the questions about Locker's accuracy, Sarkisian said, "I hope so. And I hope he just continues to answer it. I think Jake — I'm going to keep saying it — has all the tools to be as special a player as a quarterback as there is in the country, if not the best. So he keeps showing it. He shows it to us every day, and I think as we keep moving forward here he is going to keep showing it to the rest of the conference and the rest of the country."
Locker's signature play of the day set up UW's first score, when he raced to evade a rush, then stopped and threw to D'Andre Goodwin for a 35-yard gain on third down. He scored from 3 yards out on the next play to make it 7-0.
It was the kind of play, Locker admitted later, he might not have made earlier in his career.
"I think I made a more conscious effort to, once I get out of the pocket, to keep my eyes downfield and make a big, explosive play, as we did today," he said.
Later in the half, Locker had a 24-yard scoring pass to Fogerson on a screen pass that beat a blitz, and a 31-yarder to James Johnson on a perfectly-executed play-action pass.
"We were able to take some shots with their safeties playing pretty aggressive," Locker said. "It was successful for us, so we stuck with it."
Locker led two more scoring drives on UW's first possessions of the second half as the Huskies built a 35-9 lead and cruised.
"He played fantastic all day," Sarkisian said.
If there was a negative on the day it was that the Huskies needed almost every yard Locker got to hold off a Vandals offense that was surprisingly effective. Idaho outgained the Huskies 412-374, getting 349 yards through the air.
Sarkisian said he thought a lax pass rush was mostly to blame and that he wasn't too worried.
"I think our guys, maybe were looking and waiting for things," he said. "We've definitely got the talent to do it and the coaches to get it done, and I would imagine we will get that fixed."
The defense, though, came up with big plays when it had to, such as Mason Foster's interception and 56-yard return early in the third quarter after Idaho had recovered a UW fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half.
Sarkisian said such plays are a sign the Huskies are beginning to learn how to win.
Afterward, he told the players of a new directive, what he called the "24-hour rule." They had, he said, 24 hours to enjoy the win until beginning to prepare for this week's opponent, seven-time defending Pac-10 champion USC, which also happens to be Sarkisian's former employer.
Players said they planned to do as told.
"It's great," Locker said of winning, just his fourth victory as a starting quarterback for the Huskies. "The bumps and bruises you normally feel, they are kind of bigger when you lose. You don't feel them so much now. It's just a totally different atmosphere. It's exciting to have the rest of the day now to get with your teammates and hang out and just enjoy the win."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies