Huskies weather a dismal first half to run away from Georgia State in the second half, 45-14
Coach Chris Petersen says a lot of work ahead before the Pac-12 schedule starts
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Huskies avoided the colossal upset. Chris Petersen still was plenty upset.
In his first year as the Huskies coach, Petersen admitted to being more irritated than anything after a 45-14 victory over Georgia State before an announced crowd of 64,609 at Husky Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The victory made Petersen UW’s first coach to start his tenure 4-0 since Gil Dobie in 1908. Petersen hardly looked like he wanted to celebrate such a feat Saturday night.
Asked if his team is ready for the Pac-12 opener next weekend against Stanford, the back-to-back conference champion, Petersen shot back: “Did you just see what I saw? I know we’re not ready.”
Georgia State (1-3), which has never defeated an FBS opponent and came to Seattle as a 34.5-point underdog, took a stunning 14-0 lead into halftime. Petersen called the Huskies’ first-half performance “as bad a football as I’ve been around maybe ever.”
The Huskies’ offense managed a paltry 15 yards rushing on 13 attempts in the first half. They had 73 yards of total offense at halftime. They had as many penalties and punts (four each) as first downs. All against a Georgia State team that went 0-12 last year in its first season as an FBS program.
“We took them lightly, plain and simple,” UW quarterback Cyler Miles said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat nothing: Our team took them lightly, and we can’t do that.”
Things might’ve been worse for the Huskies if not for two first-half interceptions by junior cornerback Marcus Peters in his return from a one-game suspension. Peters appeared to have another first-half interception, but that was called back when he was flagged for pass interference, setting up Georgia State’s first touchdown.
Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle threw a second touchdown pass to Robert Davis, from 9 yards out, to cap a 13-play, 91-yard drive in the final minute of the half to give the Panthers the 14-0 lead. Boos rained down from the Husky Stadium stands as the Huskies headed to the locker room at the half.
“Very, very sloppy,” Miles said.
The Huskies’ second-half spark came from an unlikely source: backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist. UW’s defense forced its first three-and-out on Georgia State’s first possession of the third quarter, and the 245-pound Lindquist came off the bench during UW’s next drive. On his first touch, he ran up the middle, behind a block from left guard Dexter Charles, and scored on a 9-yard run — looking like a fullback as he plowed through two defenders at the goal line — for UW’s first touchdown at the 11:35 mark of the third quarter.
“That was a blast,” Lindquist said. “We were pretty fired up at the end.”
His touchdown started a run of 45 consecutive points over the next 22 minutes for the Huskies to finish off the Panthers, who had just 42 yards on 27 second-half plays.
“We didn’t expect them to come out (at the start of the game) with a fight. Personally, I didn’t,” said UW senior nose tackle Danny Shelton, who had a career-high 13 tackles, two for loss.
Miles and the UW offensive line finally adjusted Georgia State’s three-man defensive front and its unusual blitzes in the second half. Miles finished 19 of 27 for 154 yards and three touchdowns. He also was sacked three times, but didn’t commit a turnover.
Miles’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Kendyl Taylor tied the score at 14-14, and his 3-yard running pitch to Kasen Williams gave UW a 21-14 lead with 2:25 left. Momentum had squarely turned by then.
But even after Lindquist added another touchdown run, and even after John Timu returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown, issues remain for the Huskies entering the anticipated showdown with Stanford and its national-leading defense.
The Huskies are 4-0, as virtually everyone had them penciled to be before the season. The road to 4-0 just wasn’t supposed to be this difficult, and the Huskies weren’t supposed to this look this chaotic at this point.
Petersen said he wanted to start his postgame news conference with a positive point.
“I thought the kids’ play in the second half was good, was inspiring, was the way football should be played,” he said.
His critiques only got tougher after that.
And for the Huskies, the competition only gets tougher after this.
|A tale of two halves|
|Georgia State jumped out to a 14-0 lead at halftime. But the Huskies turned it around in the second half.|
|Category||First half||Second half|
|Georgia State points||14||0|
|UW net yards of offense||73||263|
|Georgia State net yards of offense||231||42|
|UW first downs||4||13|
|Georgia State first downs||16||1|