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Originally published November 19, 2011 at 8:04 PM | Page modified November 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Huskies QB Nick Montana's first start ends in disappointment

Nick Montana was 11-of-21 passing for 79 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble, as the Huskies lost in his first start.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — A quick look at the red in Nick Montana's eyes was all anyone needed to get a sense of how his first start unfolded.

"It just didn't go the way I wanted it to go," he said, choking up as he talked to reporters following Washington's 38-21 loss here to Oregon State on Saturday. "I need to play a lot better, and I just didn't do it."

Montana was 11-of-21 passing for 79 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble. He started because the Huskies wanted to give regular starter Keith Price a week off to rest his sprained knee.

Montana played all but two series, replaced in the fourth quarter by Price after Washington fell behind by 31-14.

"I thought we needed a spark," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian of the decision to put Price in the game. "... And it did, quite honestly."

Price immediately led an 85-yard drive that made the score 31-21, and the Huskies then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Oregon State 17 with 7:42 left.

But Price threw an interception on the next play, and the UW rally ended there. Montana returned to play the final series, sacked on the last Husky offensive play.

It was a fitting capper to a frustrating day.

The game began with a lot of promise. Montana led Washington 70 yards for a touchdown on its first possession, mostly handing the ball off to Chris Polk. He also threw short passes to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, including a 4-yard touchdown toss.

The early game plan?

"Just get me going in a little rhythm, and it was going good," Montana said. "The offensive line was doing a great job, killing the D-line making holes for Chris."

He led another scoring drive in the second quarter that also ended with another short touchdown pass to Seferian-Jenkins.

"I think today was a freshman making his first start," Sarkisian said of Montana's day. "There were some moments where he did some nice things, and some other times, not so nice. That was somewhat to be expected. I didn't expect him to come out and just set the world on fire, but I thought he handled himself admirably and will only get better for it."

Price had suffered the latest in a string of injuries to his knees last week against USC, though an MRI on Monday revealed no structural damage.

Price said he felt fine and could have played as much as needed.

"I wanted to play the whole game," he said. "But coach thought it was best for me to sit out, so I sat out."

Sarkisian said he didn't second-guess the decision to sit Price.

"For his health, as he moves forward — as we move into next week and then a bowl game and then offseason — I felt like not starting him was the right thing to do,," he said.

Sarkisian also said it wasn't a certainty that Price would start the Apple Cup.

"We'll see," Sarkisian said. "I would imagine so. We would like for that to happen, but again we'll see how he looks. I think he came out of it OK."

Montana, meanwhile, was left lamenting a few plays he wished he'd had back.

Washington's offensive line again struggled to protect, and Montana was sacked four times, one resulting in a lost fumble. He also threw an interception in the first quarter that ended a promising drive and led to a Beavers score.

"I mean we started off strong, we just missed a few plays here and there, some big ones we needed to make," he said. "I needed to make a few throws. It just comes down to a few plays."

NOTES

• The Huskies suffered a big loss on the offensive line when starting left guard Colin Tanigawa went down with a sprained knee that may be a torn ACL. He was replaced by Nick Wood.

• Washington was also left thin at free safety when Justin Glenn suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff and Will Shamburger later left with a pinch nerve in his neck. Nate Fellner played the rest of the way at free safety.

Chris Polk became UW's career leader in rushing attempts, getting 25 for 747 total, surpassing Napoleon Kaufman's 735.

• Polk had 57 yards on 12 carries in the first quarter and 52 on 13 the rest of the game. Asked later if he should have kept giving the ball to Polk more, Sarkisian said: "I don't know, I'd have to review the film.

"To Oregon State's credit, they are good coaches, too. They hung in there on Chris pretty good and created some opportunities for us down the field."

QB comparison
Nick Montana struggled in his first career college start.
Washington Pass, yds TD Int
Nick Montana 11-21, 79 2 1
Keith Price 5-9, 76 1 1
Oregon St.
Sean Mannion 26-37, 339 2 1

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