CORVALLIS, Ore. - While the final result felt a bit too close, No. 5 Washington survived a wet and wild game against Oregon State to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.
Michael Penix Jr. threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to keep the Huskies undefeated with a 22-20 victory over No. 10 Oregon State on Saturday night.
Played in a nearly constant rain, it was the final Pac-12 game at Reser Stadium as the conference currently stands. The Pac-12 collapsed over the summer, leaving Oregon State and Washington State as the lone remaining teams.
Rome Odunze caught seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns for the Huskies (11-0, 8-0, No. 5 CFP), who have won 18 straight games. Washington is departing for the Big Ten next season, along with Oregon, USC and UCLA.
Penix completed 13 of 28 passes for 162 yards. He has thrown for 30 touchdowns this season. He sealed the win with a deep third-down pass to Odunze as the click wound down.
"We had to find a way to win and put the ball in the end zone. We didn’t do it as much as we wanted to today, but it was about finding a way to win." Penix said. "The defense made big time stops when we needed it the most."
Damien Martinez ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns for the No. 10 Beavers (8-3, 5-3, No. 11 CFP), who were effectively eliminated from a shot at the conference championship. The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Oregon State at Reser.
The Beavers closed to within 22-20 on Atticus Sappington’s 35-yard field goal with 10:40 left in the game. Washington was forced to punt on the next series, and Oregon State fell short when DJ Uiagalelei’s fourth-and-5 pass to Jack Velling at midfield was incomplete.
The win kept Washington alone atop league standings in front of No. 6 Oregon, which also has national championship aspirations and defeated Arizona State 49-13 earlier on Saturday. The Ducks have just one loss — to Washington earlier this season. The Beavers visit Oregon on Friday in Eugene.
"You know, it was senior night, really wanted to get the dub, last home game for the seniors, send them out the right way," Martinez said. "But we can’t really dwell on it. We’ve got another big game coming up, going down there to Autzen. So we’ve just got to take care of business, learn from our mistakes."
On Washington’s first series of the game, Penix hit Odunze with a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Beavers answered with Martinez’s 3-yard TD scamper.
The Huskies went up 9-2 on a safety when Oregon State misplayed a punt with a bad snap that went over the head of the punter.
The slippery conditions caused headaches for both teams. Washington’s Dillon Johnson gained 42 yards to get to the Oregon State 9, but fumbled and the Beavers recovered. Then Anthony Gould fumbled a pass from DJ Uiagalelei and Washington recovered on the Oregon State 19. The Huskies, aided by a pass interference call, went on to score on Penix’s 5-yard keeper.
Oregon State closed the gap with a Sappington’s 38-yard field goal, but Washington capped the first half with Penix’s 38-yard scoring pass to Odunze to lead 22-10.
Martinez scored on a 5-yard dash with 1:29 left in the third quarter to close the gap to 22-17. The 16-play drive took 9:56 off the clock and shifted momentum to the Beavers.
Uiagalelei gained 26 yards on a fourth-and-1 keeper to keep an Oregon State drive alive early in the final quarter. Martinez extended the drive with a 19-yard reception, but the Beavers ultimately settled for Sappington’s 35-yarder.
Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith, who played quarterback for the Beavers and helped lead them to the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, said he hadn’t really thought about it being the final Pac-12 game at Reser. He was still digesting the close loss to the Huskies.
"I’m sure I’ll get to to a point of digesting all of that, I just haven’t put a lot of thought into it," he said.
MOUNTAIN WEST ALLIANCE?
This week two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the Beavers and the Cougars were moving toward keeping the Pac-12 alive as a two-team conference for the time being while striking a deal with the Mountain West to fill out their schedules. That could possibly lead to a longer-term deal between the schools and the Mountain West. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the schools nor the Mountain West were making their negotiations and internal discussions public.
Earlier in the week a judge in ruled that Oregon State and Washington State, as the sole remaining members of the Pac-12, have sole control of the conference’s assets. But the departing schools appealed to the Washington Supreme Court and won a temporary stay. Oregon State and Washington State have until Nov. 28 to respond.
Washington: Washington leads the series 69-35-4 ... Penix has three rushing touchdowns in three straight games. Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer said the Pac-12 championship berth is just the first step. There are loftier ambitions. "I know there’s a bigger piece to everything we’re trying to accomplish, but the first box is checked," he said.
Oregon State: Martinez, the 18th player with 1,000 or more yards rushing Oregon State history, has three straight games with at least 100 yards rushing. .. It was the first time the two teams have faced each other with both ranked in the AP’s Top 10.
Washington: Hosts Washington State in the Apple Cup on Saturday.
Oregon State: Visits Oregon in the rivalry game on Friday.