Washington holds off Eastern Washington in wild 59-52 win
Cyler Miles is effective in his first start in Husky Stadium, but the defense struggles as Washington outlasts Eastern Washington, 59-52.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In his return from suspension, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles took a significant step forward. He was efficient in his first start at Husky Stadium.
The offense was electric.
Miles accounted for four touchdowns and Washington’s rushing game regained its dominant footing in a 59-52 victory over lower-division Eastern Washington on Saturday.
That’s the positive takeaway, anyway, from the Huskies’ home opener before 62,861 spectators on a near-perfect summer afternoon alongside Lake Washington.
Washington’s defense surrendered 573 yards and 52 points at home to a team from the Football Championship Subdivision. Eastern Washington came back from a 21-0 first-quarter deficit to take the lead twice in the second half.
For much of the game, the Huskies were content to mostly rush three defenders at EWU quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who took advantage of the extra time to throw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. The seven touchdowns are the most ever thrown against the Huskies, by any quarterback in any division and an Eastern team record.
Miles and the UW offense were game for an ol’ shootout on this day, but that’s hardly a recipe for sustained success against the offensive juggernauts the Huskies will face throughout the Pac-12 Conference.
“That’s not the way we want to win. That’s not the Washington way,” UW senior linebacker John Timu said. “We play great defense here, and we’ve got to fix that or it’s going to get ugly this season.”
Eastern Washington (2-1) isn’t your typical FCS team — the Eagles are ranked No. 2 in their division and have several athletes on offense who, no doubt, could play in the Pac-12 — but that was little consolation for UW coach Chris Petersen, who called UW’s defensive performance “extremely” concerning.
“We have to play a lot better than that,” he said.
The Huskies (2-0) and the Eagles traded the lead four times in the second half before UW’s defense finally managed one big play. Senior nose tackle Danny Shelton had another dominant game (12 tackles, four sacks), and it was another senior, Timu, who came through with the key takeaway: a strip of EWU receiver Terence Grady early in the fourth quarter as the Eagles were again deep in UW territory, threatening to retake the lead.
Washington’s Travis Feeney recovered the fumble, setting up the UW offense to take a 59-45 lead after Miles’ third rushing touchdown, this one from 3 yards out with 7:45 left.
“What a heck of a game, huh?” Petersen said after his UW coaching debut at Husky Stadium. “I’m really proud of our offense.”
Miles completed 14 of 24 passes for 180 yards in his return. His one touchdown pass came on another big play to John Ross, who ran around the left sideline for an easy 55-yard TD in the second quarter.
In danger of losing his place on the team after his involvement in two assaults in February, Miles did not make the trip with the team for the season opener at Hawaii last week. Without him, UW’s offense was shut out in the second half and narrowly escaped Hawaii with a 17-16 victory.
“It was definitely tough, just to kind of be away, watching the guys on TV. But I’m glad I could be a part of it today,” he said.
Miles, at 6 feet 4, 225 pounds, was often at his best on the move Saturday, either buying time for receivers to get open or scrambling for yards on his own. He finished with 58 yards on 12 carries and didn’t get sacked once.
“I thought he did some good things,” Petersen said of Miles. “He left some meat on the bone out there. The good thing about Cyler is, he’s very passionate about football; he studies hard; he’s a gym rat around here. He’ll continue to get better.”
Redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman, meanwhile, continued to look like UW’s best option at running back, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Dwayne Washington added two touchdown runs and linebacker Shaq Thompson finally got a chance to run the ball in the first quarter. And, boy, did he run: 57 yards for a touchdown on his third and final carry.
|Blowout to shootout|
|Washington seemed on its way to an easy win in its home opener after it took a 21-0 lead with 7:48 to go in the first quarter. But after that, Eastern Washington came alive and gave the Huskies fits.|
|Category||First 7:12||Rest of game|
|UW yards of offense||145||391|
|EWU yards of offense||-4||577|
|2 for 2|
|After struggling to beat Hawaii, Washington came alive on offense behind Cyler Miles, who was starting at quarterback after serving a one-game suspension. How he’s fared in his two career starts.|
|Oregon State (W, 69-27)||15 of 24, 162 yards, 1 TD||7 carries, 26 yards|
|Eastern Washington (W, 59-52)||14 of 24, 180 yards, 1 TD||12 carries, 58 yards, 3 TDs|
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org