Cue up your old Will Smith CDs because it was a shootout in the wild, wild west on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles ran for three touchdowns and threw for one more to lead the Washington Huskies to a 59-52 over the visiting Eastern Washington Eagles. The Huskies ran for a combined 356 yards on 57 carries in the win on Saturday. Chris Petersen picked up his second victory as head coach for Washington and his first at Husky Stadium in front of 62,861 fans on a beautiful Seattle afternoon.
There were some serious questions about the team overall after the performance last Saturday in Honolulu but they temporarily silenced those critics with their play in the first stanza of the game. Washington received the opening kickoff which John Ross ran back to the 33-yard-line. The offense came out on fire quickly moving the ball into Eastern Washington territory; the Huskies found themselves at the 11-yard-line after five plays and a defensive penalty.
An incomplete pass on first down followed by a four-yard loss to Jaydon Mickens set up the Huskies with a 3rd-and-14 from the 15-yard-line. Miles took matters into his own hands gaining 12 yards. Petersen left the offense out on the field on fourth down; the play was a handoff to Dwayne Washington who just barely picked up the first down to the one-yard-line. The opening touchdown would come on the very next play as Cyler Miles burst through to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead after just 3:26.
Eastern running back Mario Brown fumbled the ensuing kickoff which was recovered by Trevor Walker of Washington at the Eagles 22-yard-line. After two short gains, Lavon Coleman took into the end zone to double the lead to 14-0 Washington after just five minutes of play.
The Eagles high-octane offense would finally hit the field after their fumbled kickoff. Vernon Adams did not look comfortable on the first drive though as he was sacked by big defensive tackle Danny Shelton on the first play from scrimmage. Adams could not get anything done on second and third downs forcing Eastern Washington to punt.
Chris Petersen mentioned during spring practice and even during fall ball his intention to give junior linebacker Shaq Thompson some looks at running back at times during the season. His first look was on the third drive for the Dawgs. Thompson took the first two carries for a combined nine yards before busting through the line for a 57-yard touchdown run on third-and-one. Cameron Van Winkle converted his third point after touchdown to extend the Washington lead to 21-0 just half way through the first quarter.
It appeared as though the rout was on but Vernon Adams Jr had different ideas. Adams used his legs to convert a critical third-and-4 from his own 17-yard line to earn move the chains for Eastern Washington for the first time. Four plays later, Adams hit Davis High School graduate Cooper Kupp for a 41-yard touchdown to cut the lead down to 21-7 Huskies.
Miles used his arm and his legs on the following drive to move Washington into Eastern Washington territory. The sophomore quarterback completed a swing pass to Deontae Cooper for 25 yards; a play that was not possible without the picture-perfect blocking downfield from the Washington receivers. The drive stalled before getting into the red zone forcing Chris Petersen to bring on Cameron Van Winkle for the 37-yard field goal. Washington now led 24-7 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
Vernon Adams just would not let the Eagles fall any further behind. The junior quarterback completed his first two passes of the drive to get the ball to midfield. He was gifted 15 yards for a personal foul called on the defense after the second completion. Running back Quincy Forte picked up two yards on first down from the 35-yard line but Adams could not find an open receiver on second down.
It would be third-and-8 when Adams found Kendrick Bourne in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 24-14 just before the end of the first quarter. The drive ended up covering 73 yards on five plays in just under 90 seconds.
Eastern Washington would get the ball back after forcing Washington to punt for the first time in the game at the end of the first quarter. Adams picked up where he left off completing passes to Kupp and Forte for a combined 21 yards. Forte, Brown and Adams alternated runs on the next four plays pushing the ball down to the Huskies 26-yard line. Coach Beau Baldwin kept his offense on the field after an incomplete pass on third down opting to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 26. Adams was successful again finding Kupp in the end zone for another Eagles touchdown; the third of the day for Adams and second to Kupp. The extra point was good making the score 24-21 Washington.
This was the start of the second quarter touchdown swap as Adams and Miles played a personal game of "Anything you can do, I can do better." Cyler Miles completed the first pass of the ensuing Husky drive to Darrell Daniels for a gain of 10 and a first down. After an incomplete pass on the second play of the drive, Miles found John Ross in space where the speedster burned down the sidelines for another Washington touchdown. This one of 55 yards. The extra point was good bringing the lead to 31-21 Washington.
Not to be outdone, Vernon Adams came out and completed all five passes on the next Eastern Washington scoring drive for 70 yards. He finished off the drive with a perfectly thrown ball to senior wide receiver Cory Mitchell for a 28-yard touchdown. The difference once again was dropped back to three at 31-28 Washington.
It was freshman Lavon Coleman's turn in the running back rotation and like Shaq Thompson earlier, he made good on the third play of the drive. On third-and-five from their own 42-yard line, Coleman broke through the line for a 54-yard run. It looked as though he get all the way to the end zone but he was tripped up just short. Never fear though as Dwayne Washington finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 37-28 Washington after Cameron Van Winkle's extra point was no good.
Quincy Forte would be the go-to guy for Eastern on the following drive with three big runs in key moments. He personally earned 39 yards on the ground and another four through the air as the Eagles threatened the Huskies once again. On third-and-nine from the Washington 10, Adams was sacked by Hau'oli Kikaha for a loss of 11 that looked to stall the Eastern drive and force a field goal. Kikaha did not time the snap correct and was just offside negating the sack. Adams was not able to capitalize on the gift though as the second attempt on third down was broken up at the line of scrimmage by Kikaha. Washington Huskies radio broadcaster Bob Rondeau said it best about the play, "Put that one in the blocked shots column for Kikaha." Roldan Alcobendas converted a short 22-yard field goal to bring the score to 37-31.
Each team would get another look but nothing would come in the last 1:25 of the half. The score going into halftime was Washington 37, Eastern Washington 31.
Eastern Washington would get the ball to start the second half and once again Vernon Adams Jr took over. He completed all four passes on the next drive for 72 yards including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp. Adams was in the zone. The extra point gave Eastern Washington their first lead of the game at 38-37.
Chris Petersen went back to the running game on the Huskies first drive of the second half with carries by Coleman, Miles, Washington and Jaydon Mickens. Washington only attempted two passes on their 13-play, 70-yard dive. The big play of their drive was one of the two completions as Miles hit Mickens for 20 yards to put the Huskies into Eastern Washington territory. Dwayne Washington picked the touchdown on a 4-yard scamper to give Washington the lead back at 44-38.
The boys from Cheney, Washington were not about to roll over as they started their next drive. Adams could be seen favoring his left leg in the hamstring area on previous drives but it seemed like it was starting to bother him a little more now. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket, leaving passes short and not being as aggressive running the ball as he has been. Facing a critical third-and-nine from the Washington 36-yard-line, Adams could not escape the pressure from Shaq Thompson resulting in a sack of seven yards and a death blow to the Eagles drive. Hold everything though, there was a flag on the play; personal foul unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense. The result being a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down to keep the drive alive.
A sack was negated on the very next play by an offside call which brought the ball to midfield. Adams completed a big throw to tight end Zach Wimberly for 17 yards to bring the ball inside the Washington 30. Jalen Moore gained seven yards on two carries and Vernon Adams missed a throw to Kendrick Bourne to set up a 4th-and-3 from the 22-yard-line. Beau Baldwin kept his offense out on the field putting the ball in the hands of his quarterback. Adams did not disappoint completing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Cory Mitchell to bring the lead back in favor of the Eagles at 45-44.
Eastern Washington tried to sneak one by the Huskies with an onside kick attempt but it was recovered by the Dawgs at the Eagles 48. Jesse Callier was the running back of choice on this drive as he and Miles alternated runs, with a pass to Mickens sprinkled in, to move the ball in the red zone. Here Miles when back-to-back with Mickens for gains of 11 and three yards to move the ball down to the five-yard line. The quarterback would keep it himself and fall in for the touchdown on second-and-goal. Miles would then find senior wide receiver Kasen Williams open for the two-point conversion to bring the lead to 52-45.
It took 47:13 for the first game-changing defensive play to occur in this game. Eastern Washington was moving the ball down the field with ease on another drive. On second-and-10 from the Washington 32, Adams completed a pass on the right to Terence Grady. Grady turned up the field looking for some yards after the catch but Husky linebacker John Timu caught up from behind and stripped the ball. Travis Feeney recovered for the Huskies to give Dawgs possession with 12:47 left and a seven-point lead.
Petersen went back to the team's bread-and-butter, the run game. This time it was Lavon Coleman and Deontae Cooper splitting the carries on a 13-play, 65-yard drive culminating in another Cyler Miles touchdown run. The extra point from Van Winkle was good to bring the score to 59-45 Washington.
Vernon Adams Jr showed his grit on the final drive for the Eagles. He converted on two occasions where the team was facing fourth down and more than 10 yards to go. First, it was a 13-yard pass to Cooper Kupp on 4th-and-12 and then it was a 21-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne on 4th-and-11 from the Washington 44. Adams completed 5-of-9 passes for 68 yards including a touchdown to Zach Wimberly to bring the score back to 59-52.
That would be that as Cyler Miles completed an 8-yard pass to Darrell Daniels to convert the needed first down for Washington. Two runs by Dwayne Washington followed by a knee in the victory formation sealed the win. Washington hosts Illinois next Saturday at Husky Stadium while the Eastern Washington Eagles play at Montana State in two weeks.
This game was not for the fans of defensive football as the teams combined for 1,109 of offense. The VAVEL USA Player of the Game was Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, he completed 31-of-46 passes for 475 yards with seven touchdown passes.