Washington beats USC on last-second FG
Huskies beat USC with last-second 32-yard field goal.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The winning drive2:34 remaining
UW starts drive on own 24
4th and 11
Locker hits Goodwin for 18 yards to UW 41
1st and 10
Polk runs for 26 yards to USC 33
3rd and 5
Locker runs for 8 yards to USC 20
Folk splits uprights with winning 32-yard FG
LOS ANGELES — The Washington Huskies didn't even really need to say it as they took to the field with 2:34 left, the ball at their own 24-yard-line.
"We all just had the same thought at the same time," said receiver Jermaine Kearse.
That thought was that they'd done this before — beat USC with a last-minute drive — and could do it again.
And in the kind of moment that could get the season back on course, the Huskies moved 61 yards in 10 plays to set up a 32-yard field goal by Erik Folk as the final seconds ticked off that beat USC 32-31. It was Folk's fourth field goal of the game.
"I could have hit it better, but it was good enough to go through," Folk said of a kick that silenced all of the 82,769 spectators other than the UW contingent seated mostly in the far reaches of the east end zone.
For all involved, it brought back memories of a Folk 22-yarder with 3 seconds left that beat USC 16-13 in Husky Stadium last season.
"It was just like last year," Kearse said.
Only maybe a little more meaningful. It was the first UW victory at USC since 1996 and snapped a 13-game road losing streak that dated to a victory at Stanford in 2007.
It also made UW 2-2 and 1-0 in Pac-10 play, and served as a resounding rebound after a 56-21 home defeat against Nebraska two weeks ago. That Nebraska setback had Huskies fans wondering where the season was headed and had UW coach Steve Sarkisian questioning his team's competitive nature.
"They've just got to play like they are capable of playing," Sarkisian said, explaining the difference two weeks can make.
No one did that more than senior quarterback Jake Locker, who was at the center of everything that went right for the Huskies. Locker was 24 for 40 passing for 310 yards and ran 12 times for 110 more, the kind of performance that was expected when he entered the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Those hopes were dashed with the disastrous Nebraska game, in which he went 4 for 20 through the air. But expertly operating a game plan that called for spreading the field and letting him roll out to find receivers on short and intermediate routes, he was on from the start Saturday.
"He showed us how big his heart is," Sarkisian said.
Locker left the game for a play after being hit hard and having the wind knocked out of him early in the fourth quarter. But he returned to lead a Huskies drive for the ages.
The final drive concluded what was an offensive donnybrook — the teams combined for 1,020 yards (UW with a season-high 536) and there were seven lead changes.
Washington struggled to stop USC's run all night as the Trojans rushed for 298 yards, including 223 from Allen Bradford.
But the Huskies answered every time the Trojans scored, getting 92 yards from Chris Polk as part of a season-high 225 on the ground, and with a passing game in which five different receivers had three or more receptions.
"It was a cool game to be a part of," Sarkisian said.
Still, it appeared UW might be dead when it failed on a fourth-and-eight at the USC 38 with 6:02 remaining, down 29-28 — especially when USC again ran its way deep into UW territory.
But the Huskies defense stiffened and forced a 40-yard Joe Houston field goal that clanked off the right upright.
That brought UW's offense out one last time.
And after two passes went incomplete and a third netted a loss of a yard, it looked like it might end right there.
But on fourth-and-11, Locker moved around in the pocket to buy time and hit D'Andre Goodwin over the middle for 18 yards to kickstart the drive.
Asked what he told the team in the huddle, Locker said: "I said, 'I love you guys. We've got one more down to continue this drive and give ourselves a chance to win this game.' And there wasn't one guy in the huddle that thought we couldn't do it."
Polk then ran 26 yards to get UW into USC territory, and a Locker run of 8 yards on third down got a first down. Then UW milked the clock and eventually called time out with 3 seconds left.
USC then called two timeouts to try to ice Folk.
"I kind of had a feeling they would," he said. "Once I was out there, I didn't think about it at all."
Instead, he merely gave UW one of its biggest victories in years, one that makes the season rich with possibility once again.
"We trusted in each other and played for each other," Locker said. "And the results were there."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org