Rome Odunze caught seven passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns, and his 23-yard, fourth-down run on the final possession helped set up Grady Gross’ game-winning field goal from 42 yards as No. 4-ranked Washington closed out an undefeated regular season in a 24-21 defeat of rival Washington State, Saturday in Seattle.
The Huskies (12-0, 9-0 Pac-12 Conference) came into the 115th edition of the Apple Cup having already clinched a berth in next Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game, but sought to maintain their inside track on reaching the College Football Playoff.
Facing fourth-and-one at its own 29-yard line with 1:14 left, Washington went for it and appeared to be stuffed when running back Dillon Johnson ran into the line. But Johnson sold a fake as the wide receiver Odunze went end-around for a long gain.
A roughing the passer penalty on Ron Stone Jr. — one of three pivotal flags in the fourth quarter — moved Washington further into Washington State territory and provided some cushion to remain in Gross’ range despite quarterback Michael Penix Jr. taking a nine-yard loss on a sack before the attempt.
Gross’ made field goal came from nearly the same distance as the 43-yarder he missed earlier in the game.
Washington State (5-7, 2-7), needing a win to reach bowl eligibility, gave Washington all it could handle. Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward went 32-of-48 passing for 317 yards with three touchdowns, each to a different receiver, including a game-tying, eight-yard strike to Lincoln Victor to set up a 21-21 fourth-quarter tie.
Ward’s third touchdown throw came as a result of the first key penalty called in the final period. Washington State was able to capitalize on Washington’s Dominique Hampton with a leaping call on a field-goal attempt.
What was initially a made Cougars field goal to cut the Huskies lead to 21-17 instead led to the equalizing touchdown.
Washington State regained possession with a chance to move ahead after forcing a three-and-out, but a holding penalty against the Cougars negated a would-be first-down run in Huskies territory.
Penix finished 18-of-33 for 204 yards with the two touchdown connections to Odunze — one of 40 yards and the other for 21 yards — and an interception. Johnson, who scored on a first-quarter goal-line carry, ran for 82 yards.
Josh Kelly finished with 106 yards on eight receptions for Washington State and scored on a 21-yard reception. Kyle Williams caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ward, who was also intercepted twice.
With the win, Washington became the first team to complete an undefeated regular season in the Pac-12 since the conference’s last year with 10 members, 2010. Oregon, which saw its 2023 team seal a berth in the Pac-12 Championship with its win over Oregon State on Friday, was the last program to accomplish the feat.
–Field Level Media