Midnight purple is a good look for the Washington Huskies.
So is midseason perfection.
Six up, six down — and six wins for all-purple sixth-ranked UW, which drowned out California, 38-7, in front of 67,429 on Saturday night at Husky Stadium.
Quarterback Jake Browning threw two touchdown passes, added another score on the ground as the Huskies offense racked up 377 yards.
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Running back Myles Gaskin added 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also moved past Joe Steele into fourth place all-time for career rushing yards (3,234).
And the UW defense? It held the Bears’ offense to 93 scoreless yards, which ranks as the fifth-fewest the Huskies have allowed in school history.
“I loved the first half,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “And I really liked how our defense played the entire game.”
This was a week when things did not get off to a particularly positive start for Petersen, who came off a little bit like a curmudgeon during his early-week press conference.
Browning threw two touchdown passes, added another score on the ground as the Huskies offense racked up 377 yards. Todd Millestmilles@thenewstribune.com
First, he took issue with all of his team’s night kickoffs this season, which drew some criticism nationally.
And when asked about the reasons behind his offense’s sluggish starts in the first half, notably in the three road games, Petersen snarled at that nagging evaluation.
Well, UW was anything but slow-starting Saturday night, scoring three first-half touchdowns.
That brought its season total to 12 for the season, 35 over the past two years — and 47 during the career of quarterback Jake Browning in 17 Husky Stadium appearances.
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The Huskies wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, marching 64 yards on 11 plays on their opening drive.
But they also got a little fortunate, too.
On third-and-goal from the UW 11-yard line, Browning rolled right and lofted a pass into heavy traffic in the back right corner of the end zone.
Initially, Cal cornerback Josh Brayden looked to have an interception — that is, until true freshman Hunter Bryant entered the frame.
Four inches taller and 54 pounds heavier, Bryant came over the top of the better-positioned Brayden and literally took the football out of the defensive back’s hands, flipping a turnover into his first career touchdown catch, and the Huskies had a quick 7-0 lead.
“That was pretty impressive,” Petersen said. “I caught it on replay ... and it looked like kind of a tie.
“He kept fighting. It was a heck of an effort on his part. Hopefully, (his future touchdowns) are not always that hard.”
Their second touchdown might be one talked about for a while.
After Tristan Vizcaino missed another field goal earlier in the game, Petersen decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Bears’ 21 with less than seven minutes remaining in the half.
“I loved the first half, and I really liked how our defense played the entire game.” Todd Millestmilles@thenewstribune.com
Browning went left on a read-option play, flanked by Gaskin. Instead of pitching it, the junior quarterback darted through a crease and took off.
“I was trying to get a first down, and I kind of went through and there was nobody there,” Browning said. “I kept running. And I thought I was going to go in free, but obviously I didn’t.”
Just as he was crossing the goal-line on his 21-yard touchdown run, Cal safety Ashtyn Davis gave Browning a jolting shot, and drew a personal-foul penalty. It also woke Browning from his normally-slumbering demeanor as he broke out in a big yell after he was met by teammates. The Huskies led, 17-0.
The purple flash was off and running.
And the purple swarm on the other side was just as revved up.
The UW defense completely overwhelmed quarterback Ross Bowers and the Cal offense, limiting them to just 46 first-half yards and three first downs. Five of a season-high eight sacks of Bowers came before halftime.
“That is what it is — team defense,” UW co-defesive coordiantor Pete Kwiatkowski said. “You want all those guys to understand that role, and play at a high level. One play it is one guy, one play it is another.”
Greg Gaines’ 17-yard sack of Bowers deep in Cal territory with more than four minutes remaining gave the Huskies one more shot to score right before halftime.
Needing four plays to cover 27 yards, Gaskin capped it with his 8-yard touchdown scamper with 2:44 to go, extending the Huskies’ lead to 24-0.