Browning leads No. 6 Washington over California
SEATTLE — Jake Browning augmented his passing with an option wrinkle and thanks to Washington’s stifling defense, he recorded more rushing yards than California’s entire team.
Browning passed for two touchdowns and scored on a 21-yard option run as the sixth-ranked Huskies smothered California 38-7 on Saturday night.
Myles Gaskin added a pair of rushing touchdowns for Washington (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12), which led 24-0 at the half.
“Loved the first half, really like how our defense played the entire game. We challenged them pretty good this week,” Washington coach Chris Peterson said. “We have a lot of respect for Cal and what they’re doing down there. Those guys are heading in the right direction. I’m pumped for our defense, but we turned it over on offense so we didn’t get the shutout.”
Browning completed 27 of 40 passes for 215 yards, including scoring passes of 11 and 2 yards, along with the touchdown run, before coming out early in the fourth quarter.
California (3-3, 0-3) called timeout with one second remaining for a final field-goal attempt, but the snap sailed far over the holder’s head for a 41-yard loss, leaving the Bears with minus-40 yards rushing and 93 yards of total offense.
“Obviously a really disappointing performance,” said Cal coach Justin Wilcox. “You have to give Washington a lot of credit, excellent team, really well coached, really good players. We didn’t do anything on offense to give us a chance. We’re going to have to reevaluate some things, obviously again credit to them. In terms of the run game, we’ve got to be more productive in the run game, pass game, kind of across the board offensively.”
Cal, which had come from behind in the second half in each of its three victories, missed a scoring opportunity on its first possession of the third quarter. On first down from the Bears’ 49-yard line, Jeremiah Hawkins got behind the secondary up the right side, but dropped the pass from Ross Bowers inside the Washington 20.
Washington responded with a 16-play, 90-yard scoring drive that consumed 6:25. Browning completed six passes on the drive, capped by the 2-yard toss to Jusstis Warren that made it 31-0.
The defense finally got the Bears on the board when cornerback Darius Allensworth scooped up Dante Pettis’ fumbled pass reception and returned it 37 yards for the score.
Gaskin’s 7-yard touchdown extended the lead to 38-7 with 12:16 remaining.
Washington dominated the first half en route to a 24-0 lead at the break, holding the Bears to just three first downs, one of which was on a penalty, and 46 total yards.
Cal punted on five of its first six possessions, and lost a fumble on the other.
After forcing a Cal punt on the opening series, Washington responded with an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown march. On third-and-goal from the 11, Browning was forced to scramble right and found tight end Hunter Bryant, who wrestled the ball away from two defenders in the right corner of the end zone.
“That was pretty impressive,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t see it all during the game, but I caught it on the replay. It looked like he went over the guy, and it was kind of a tie-type situation, kept fighting — heck of an effort on his part to get that done.”
Cal avoided a huge early hole when Washington recovered Patrick Laird’s fumble at the Bears’ 25 with 3:25 left in the first quarter. The Huskies failed to pick up a first down and Tristan Vizcaino’s 38-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
On their next possession, the Huskies moved from their own 49 to the Cal 4-yard line. Browning appeared to connect with Pettis at the 1 on third down, but the pass was ruled incomplete after a lengthy review.
Washington settled for a 23-yard field goal by Van Soderberg to make it 10-0 with 11:09 left in the half.
Browning put the Huskies up 21-0 with a 21-yard touchdown run on read option on fourth-and-2.
“Initially, I was just trying to get the first down and then there was no one there, so I just kept running,” said Browning, who then was hit in the end zone, resulting in a 15-yard penalty against the Bears. “I kind of looked back to see if anybody was going to try and strip the ball, and then just got planted. But, at least we scored.”
Pettis, whose eight career punt returns for touchdown shares the NCAA record, set up Washington’s final score of the half with a 17-yard return to the Cal 27. Gaskin finished the four-play drive with an 8-yard scoring run.
A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Washington’s Vita Vea put Cal across midfield for the first time at the Huskies’ 43 with one second left, but Matt Anderson’s 60-yard field goal attempt was short.
NOTES: Washington and Cal are the only two teams in what is now the Pac-12 to have played in every season since the league was founded in 1916. ... Washington K Tristan Vizcaino entered the game making just 4 of 8 field-goal attempts, including 1 of 5 from 30 yards or longer. ... Each starting QB was from the opposing state. Jake Browning is from Folsom, Calif., while Bears sophomore Ross Bowers is from nearby Bothell, Wash. ... RB Myles Gaskin’s second-quarter touchdown run moved him into fourth-place on the Huskies’ career rushing list, passing Joe Steele (3,168 yards, 1976-79). Napoleon Kaufman is first with 4,106 yards. ... Browning moved into third on Washington’s career passing list with 7,851 yards, passing Jack Locker (7,639, 2007-10).