SEATTLE (CBS) – For the first quarter of Friday’s Apple Cup, an air raid took over Pullman’s Martin Stadium.
But it wasn’t the Washington State offense, named “The Air Raid” for Mike Leach’s high-octane passing system, who was torching the defense from the air; it was the Huskies.
Jake Browning and the Washington offense put on a passing clinic for the first 15 minutes
The Huskies finished the first quarter leading 28-3. Their four scores during that period were more than the 17 points the Cougars scored all game, en route to a 45-17 victory.
Browning went 13 of 17 for 202 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter. The sophomore quarterback bounced back from criticism of slow starts in the last few games, and finished 21 of 29 for 292 yards and no interceptions.
While have a solid game in his own right, Browning benefited from exceptional performance from his receivers. The Huskies finished with three receivers each over 80 yards on the day.
Dante Pettis led the way with 86 yards on just three targets and two touchdowns. Midway through the first half, Browning threw a deep jump ball to Pettis, who went up over WSU cornerback Darrien Molton, and took it to the house for a 61 yard touchdown.
Pettis adjusted to the under thrown ball by Browning, and despite a pass interference foul by Molton, was able to make the catch and take it in to give the Huskies a 21-3 lead.
John Ross also contributed with a consistent eight catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. His score came on one of the final plays of the first quarter on a fade to the corner of the end zone. He also carried a 31-yard jet sweep to add to 37 rushing yards.
As evident by his numbers, Browning did slow down a bit at times. However the rushing offense was there to pick them up.
The Huskies put up 168 yards on the ground as Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman combined for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns. Coleman finished as the lead rusher 82 yards on 10 carries and two hard fought touchdowns. Gaskin had 50 yards on 16 carries and one score.
It’ll be a short celebration period for Washington, who will retains the Apple Cup for the fourth-straight year.
The win over the Cougars puts UW in the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday, in search of their first conference title since 2000.
Browning knows how big of a deal this Friday would be for Washington, with both a Championship and potential College Football Playoff berth on the line.
“We don’t have time to pat ourselves on the back for winning 11 games. You know, we came into the season expecting to win every game, to play close games and win a lot of games,” Browning said.
Jake Browning appears to be back in control of his offense. His first half performance, and leading Washington in key drives down the stretch in the second half proves that the sophomore is up to the task of leading the Huskies to the promise land
If Browning and UW take care of business this Friday, there’s no telling how high their ceiling is.
“We’re right where we want to be. On to the next one.”