LAS VEGAS — The Washington Huskies sent coach Chris Petersen into retirement the same way he opened his head coaching career – with a bowl win.
Washington dominated No. 19 Boise State – which Petersen earned his first bowl victory with in his first season as a head coach in 2006 – as Jacob Eason threw for 210 yards and a touchdown and Elijah Molden was named MVP after intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble, during a 38-7 victory over the Broncos on Saturday night.
Toward the end of the game, and as Petersen made his way across the field to shake Boise State coach Bryan Harsin’s hand, chants from both fan bases could be heard for the former Broncos coach.
“Well, this is never about any one person. It’s never about any one player. It’s a team game,” Petersen said. “We were excited to come to the ball game but when we saw the opponent, I was lukewarm on the opponent, just because of all the people and the connections and all those things, it is what it is. I’m just proud of these guys, I really am. I just thought (the matchup) would make it more about me, and it’s never about one person, it’s just not. It’s about these guys playing really, really well.”
Which they did, as the Huskies got contributions all around in the bowl’s most lopsided loss in five years.
Richard Newton rushed for 69 yards with a short touchdown run and threw a touchdown pass for the Huskies, and Salvon Ahmed added two touchdown runs. Myles Bryant added an interception, and six different defenders had a tackle for loss.
“It was awesome, just the way this whole team played,” Eason said. “I thought starting up front, the guys did an outstanding job in protection, our running backs ran the ball really well and our receivers went out and made plays. On the other side of things, our defense got the ball back for us, and got some stops in a lot of huge situations, so the momentum was on our side for the most part. Overall we just played a really well and efficiently and got the result we wanted.”
Molden said playing for both Petersen and the outgoing seniors provided plenty of motivation for the Huskies.
“Every game is important, but some games are more important,” Molden said. “We had a lot of weeks to kind of let this simmer. And then we went out there, we played well.”
The Huskies wasted little time in seizing momentum by jumping out to a 17-0 halftime lead behind a methodical offense and tenacious defense that registered an interception of Hank Bachmeier’s pass that was thrown up for grabs on the opening possession and easily picked off by Bryant. Andre Baccellia took a slant from Eason 17 yards into the end zone for the opening score.
The Huskies extended their lead to 24-0 early in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown blast by Newton after Molden picked off a screen pass by Bachmeier.
“Ultimately, it falls back on me, and the performance tonight, I mean, that’s my fault,” Harsin said. “Obviously seven points is not what we put in 10 days of practice time to go out there and execute and achieve.”
Jaylon Henderson, who replaced Bachmeier in the second half after the freshman threw his second interception, threw for 48 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos, who lost for the first time in five appearances in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Bachmeier, who started the first seven games before sustaining a hip injury against Hawaii, was 15 of 26 for 119 yards.
Source: Las Vegas Bowl/Associated Press