Washington Huskies

Angry or not, Huskies rebound from loss and cruise to victory over Hawaii

Washington Huskies tight end Hunter Bryant (1) is airborne as he scores a touchdown during the first quarter. The University of Washington played University of Hawai’i in a NCAA football game at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.
Washington Huskies tight end Hunter Bryant (1) is airborne as he scores a touchdown during the first quarter. The University of Washington played University of Hawai’i in a NCAA football game at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Depending on who you ask, Washington was mad.

Running back Sean McGrew said yes. Definitely. After having their 15-game home winning streak snapped in a one-point defeat to Cal last week, the Huskies walked into Saturday’s game against Hawaii ready to prove a point. The loss was painful, McGrew said. His anger had been simmering ever since.

Hunter Bryant had a different approach. He always tries to keep his emotions in check, and the even-keeled tight end said the matchup with the Rainbow Warriors was no exception. But both McGrew and Bryant agreed on one point: They weren’t going to let it happen again.

A 52-20 victory took care of that.

The Huskies’ offense was unstoppable in the first half. Their defense, relentless. The Rainbow Warriors didn’t score on their first six drives and managed just 105 yards on 30 plays. Meanwhile, UW scored a touchdown on its first three possessions. By halftime, quarterback Jacob Eason had thrown for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

“Games like last week come that go down to the wire and don’t go your way sting a little bit,” said McGrew, who rushed for 63 yards on eight carries. “When you get the opportunity to come back on the field the next week, you got to give it everything you have.”

It certainly seemed like the Huskies were taking out last week’s loss to Cal on the Rainbow Warriors. The result was a 38-7 halftime lead and a game that never really seemed in doubt. UW scored on six of its first eight drives, a stretch that included five touchdowns. On the third play of the game, Eason launched a 47-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Bryant.

That set the tone for everything that came next.

A 22-yard touchdown run by Sean McGrew. A 28-yard pass from Jacob Eason to Puka Nacua for the freshman receiver’s first touchdown. A 37-yard pass from Eason to Aaron Fuller. A 5-yard run by Richard Newton, his first of three touchdowns. A 23-yard field goal from Peyton Henry.

By the time Hawaii caught its breath, the Huskies had built an insurmountable 38-0 advantage.

“I think it was really just fun just to play, be out there in front of our fans and have the first drive be a touchdown, second drive be a touchdown,” Bryant said. “The defense was playing incredible the first half and the second.”

The Rainbow Warriors tried to put up a fight. After scoring their first touchdown late in the third quarter, they reached the end zone during their first two drives of the second half to trim UW’s lead to 38-20.

But the Huskies were ready with a response. After Newton scored on a 1-yard rush on UW’s next possession, freshman safety Cameron Williams picked off Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald off a tipped pass from Kyler Manu. It was the first interception of Williams’ career. When the Huskies got the ball back, they drove 31 yards in six plays before scoring on another Newton rush, this time from 8-yard out with 8:13 left in the game.

“I think an explosive start on offense, for sure,” said head coach Chris Petersen. “I think both sides were really feeding off each other. It was really nice to build a lead. I don’t think that happens most every game. I think that was really important for this game because they can control the ball from you and they can score quickly. I think you saw that in their first two games before they got to us.”

Hawaii did a lot of things before facing the Huskies.

The Rainbow Warriors were averaging 541.5 yards of total offense. UW held them to 395. They also had the No. 4 passing offense in the country, putting up 428.5 yards per game. On Saturday they finished with 260. And yes, Hawaii topped two Pac-12 teams in Arizona and Oregon State before traveling to Husky Stadium. But UW took care of that, too. Playing six — and sometimes seven — defensive backs, the Huskies stifled Hawaii’s unique and often perplexing run-and-shoot offense.

“I feel like that’s the kind of system to where they just play by the rules,” said defensive back Myles Bryant, who finished with two interceptions, a sack and a tackle for loss. “They know what they want to do and then they go out and try to do it. Coming in, I feel like we had a good week of preparation and we understood what they were trying to do. From then on, we just put ourselves in position to make plays.”

Eason completed 18-of-25 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked just once. Salvon Ahmed rushed 83 yards on eight carries. Hunter Bryant had five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown while Fuller finished with five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

“We really took this as a learning opportunity,” Hunter Bryant said. “I feel like we can have a really great team this year and we made some critical mistakes last week. So, we came in this week really locked into the little things and the details of our offense and our defense and I really think that showed today.”

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for PennLive.com. A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.
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