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September 10, 2011The Washington Huskies have grown accustomed to winning tight football games in the last few years under Steve Sarkisian.
"I'm getting old fast. That's how tough it gets," Sarkisian joked.
Saturday was no different for Washington as it took everything the Huskies had to hold off Hawai'i late in the fourth quarter and escape with a 40-32 victory before 63,252 sun-scorched fans in Husky Stadium.
The opponent was different, but the Huskies' hero was the same this week. Cornerback Desmond Trufant had a late interception and returned a blocked PAT for two points to help seal the victory for the Huskies.
After a disappointing start to their season in a close win against Eastern Washington last week, the Huskies didn't waste any time jumping all over Hawai'i in game two.
The Huskies' opening drive lasted just three plays and covered most of the field in a little more than minute.
True freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught two passes from Keith Price to start the drive for 77 yards to the Hawai'i 2-yard line.
Chris Polk took a handoff on the next play and scooted into the end zone and the Huskies were off and running.
That touchdown was the first of three scored by the Huskies in the first quarter as they jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead thanks to a perfect first quarter from Price.
He began the game 8-for-8 for 193 yards and two scores, all in the first quarter. Two of those touchdowns were caught by senior Jermaine Kearse, who exited last week's game early after spraining his ankle.
Price finished the day 18-of-25 for 315 yards and four touchdowns compared to one interception.
While the hot start was a huge boost for the Huskies, the Warriors weren't going to let them coast to an easy victory.
Midway through the second quarter, Warrior quarterback Bryant Moniz led his team on a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive that gave Hawai'i its first hope of the game.
The Huskies tried to extinguish that hope on their next drive, but Price threw an interception at the goal line that silenced UW fans and immediately gave the Warriors the momentum. Safety Richard Torres returned the interception 99 yards for a touchdown that pulled Hawai'i to within 21-14 as the first half drew to a close.
Instead of folding and letting Hawai'i take the momentum into the half, however, the Huskies marched down the field for another touchdown to extend their lead to 28-14 at the halftime.
[db]Devin Aguilar[/db] caught the 31-yard strike from Price. Aguilar finished the game with a team-high five catches for 131 yards.
"I thought it showed a lot of resiliency on our offense to turn right back around," Sarkisian said. "We get the ball and go back down and score at the end of the half."
Not to be denied, Hawai'i opened the second half with a demoralizing drive that included four consecutive third down conversions and ate up more than 7 minutes of game-clock.
"We knew they were going to move the ball a little bit, they're too good not to," Sarkisian said.
The Huskies kicked a field goal to go extend their lead back to 11, but Hawai'i brought its offense back onto the field looking to make a comeback.
Again, Hawai'i moved the ball with ease offensively and scored on a short rushing touchdown by Moniz. After failing to convert the two-point conversion, the Warriors trailed by just five points with 13:42 left in the game.
Moniz, who led the nation in passing yards last season, led the offense for Hawai'i with 333 yards passing, but just one touchdown through the air.
"Offensively, I'm very proud of our production," Moniz said. "But we fell a little short and didn't score on all of our drives."
It wasn't the offense that failed Hawai'i on Saturday. After Moniz scored the touchdown to make it a one-score game, Price was back on the field leading the Huskies on another scoring drive.
A 14-yard touchdown pass to Seferian-Jenkins in the back of the end zone gave the Huskies' a 12-point advantage. Seferian-Jenkins, the former national recruit from Gig Harbor, finished with three catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
After a punt by both teams, Hawai'i was running out of time, still needing two scores in 5 minutes. Moniz threw up a desperation heave, but Trufant was the man in coverage.
Trufant intercepted the pass deep in Huskies territory and it looked like it had killed any hope of a Hawai'i comeback.
The Huskies offense stalled and then [db]Kiel Rasp had his punt blocked, giving Hawai'i hope and the ball on the UW 27-yard line with 2:51 to play, but no time outs.
A quick drive by Hawai'i capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass had Hawai'i hoping for a miracle.
That's when Everette Thompson blocked his second PAT and Trufant scooped up the ball and raced into the far end zone for two points for the Huskies.
Hawai'i attempted an onside kick, but the ball didn't travel the required 10 yards and the Huskies were able to kneel down to run out the clock for the win.
The victory was Washington's sixth consecutive, dating back to last season and the first time since 2007 that they have started 2-0.
The Huskies are tied with Oklahoma for the fourth-longest active winning streak in the nation.
"All in all, a great win, love being 2-0, but the reality is there is still so much room for improvement," said Sarkisian.
The excitement about the win won't last long for the Huskies, who have to get back to work quickly. Next week they travel to Nebraska in a rematch of the Holiday Bowl.
Follow UDubNation's Mitchell Larsen on Twitter @MLarsen_Rivals