SEATTLE (AP): Michael Penix Jr. has accomplished plenty in his first season as the quarterback at Washington. He added a game-winning, fourth-quarter drive to the list on Friday night.
Peyton Henry made a 22-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to cap a 92-yard scoring driving, and Washington held off No. 24 Oregon State 24-21 to preserve its hopes in the Pac-12 championship game race.
The Huskies took over at their own 3 with 4:33 left and Penix led the march downfield against the Beavers’ stingy defense. Penix was 9 of 13 for 66 yards on the drive, including key third-down conversions to Devin Culp, Ja’Lynn Polk and a diving catch by Cameron Davis. Penix’s push pass to Giles Jackson for 12 yards got the Huskies to the Oregon State 2. After a pair of incompletions, the Huskies set up for the short field goal and Henry delivered the winning kick.
“We knew if we gave them the ball back we probably wouldn’t have got it back,” Penix said. “We wanted to make sure that we took advantage of that drive and make sure we got down there and got some points on the board. And it was great that we took up all that clock.”
Washington (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) won its third straight and kept alive its slim hopes of finding a spot in Las Vegas in the conference title game. Penix, the nation’s leader in passing, was 30 of 52 for 298 yards and a 24-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal to Jack Westover in the third quarter.
Wayne Taulapapa ran for two touchdowns for the Huskies, the second coming early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 21-21. Rome Odunze had seven receptions for 102 yards.
“It just gives us that mentality that we’re gonna go out there and fight no matter what,” Odunze said.
The game wasn’t without some typical late-night Pac-12 wackiness. Blustery winds affected the passing and kicking game all night and the game was stopped for 25 minutes early in the fourth quarter after partial power outage took down some of the stadium lights illuminating the field.
“That was the biggest thing I was probably trying to address with the guys is how hard they had fought to make it a 21-21 score,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “And we had just gained the momentum and just to get their minds back on how it felt.”
Deshaun Fenwick rushed for two touchdowns and linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold returned an interception 37 yards for a score for Oregon State, which was playing its first game ranked in The AP Top 25 since the 2013 season opener.
“Credit to those guys for finishing the game better than we did ultimately,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “It was back-and-forth battling. Some missed opportunities out there and they made one or two more plays than us.”
The Beavers (6-3, 3-3) will lament two missed opportunities in the first half going for it on fourth downs deep in Washington’s end of the field and failing to convert. The windy, blustery conditions made kicking an adventure all night, but failing to get points on those drives came back to bite Oregon State.
The Beavers were stopped on fourth-and-2 at the Washington 7 and fourth-and-3 at the Washington 15 on consecutive possessions with a chance to extend their early lead.
“We’re going to error on aggression down there, even more aggression with the way the wind was going,” Smith said. “There’s no guarantee that thing is going through the uprights and I didn’t think the distances were ridiculous.”
Damien Martinez had 107 yards rushing for Oregon State.
Taulapapa scored on a 4-yard TD run with 11:36 left. But as the Huskies celebrated, a bank of stadium lights on the north side of the stadium went out. Washington kicked the extra point to pull even at 21-21, but after the kick the lights on the south side went down as well.
After officials huddled with stadium staff, it was announced there would be a delay before the lights would come back on. The lights flickered back on after about 20 minutes and the game resumed after a 25-minute break.
DeBoer said he had a similar situation during a game at Fresno State in 2018.
“I sat on the heater. It was cold,” Penix said.
The instable weather and the delay in the fourth quarter brought back memories of 2019 when Washington and California played a night game that was delayed by lightning storms in the Seattle area. That game was delayed more than 2 1/2 hours and ended at 1:22 a.m. local time.
Oregon State: The Beavers’ return to the rankings will be brief. Oregon State has not been ranked for more than one week since 2012 when it reached as high as No. 7 before losing at Washington.
Washington: The Huskies still need help to get to the conference title game and have to win at Oregon next week if they want a shot.
Oregon State: The Beavers host California next Saturday.
Washington: The Huskies are at No. 8 Oregon next Saturday.