Dec. 29, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO - Freshman John Ross returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and junior running back Bishop Sankey scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to lead Washington to a 31-16 victory over BYU on Friday before 34,136 fans in the final Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park.
The Huskies (9-4), playing under interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo, posted their first nine-win season since producing an 11-1 mark in 2000 and captured their first bowl win since a 19-7 Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in 2010.
"It is exciting. I'm thrilled for our guys and our program," Tuiasosopo said. "Our coaching staff put together a great game plan to keep us together. We finished the way we wanted."
After the Cougars (8-5) evened the score 7-7 early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by quarterback Taysom Hill, Ross turned the momentum in the Huskies' favor as he set a Fight Hunger Bowl record for the longest kickoff return in the 12-year history of the bowl by taking the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to give Washington a 14-7 lead.
From there, the Huskies' defense took over the game as it held the high-powered Cougars' offense scoreless in the second half. BYU entered the contest ranked No. 9 nationally in rushing offense (274.6) and No. 14 in total offense (495.3).
Despite allowing 473 total yards, the Huskies defense stiffened on its end of the field as it limited the Cougars to three second-quarter field goals and forced three punts and a missed field goal on BYU's first four possessions to open the second half.
The missed field goal came after a Washington interception that gave BYU the ball at the Huskies' 26-yard line.
Hau'oli Kikaha, who was named the game's Defensive Most Valuable Player, led the Huskies' defense with nine tackles, including three for loss and three sacks.
"It's a great way to finish," Kikaha said. "This a great team and a great bunch of guys. I'm excited to be a part of it."
After forcing BYU to punt on the game's opening possession, Washington scored the first time it had the ball, capping a 12-play, 71-yard drive on an 11-yard run by Sankey, who was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player after rushing 21 times for 104 yards.
"It's a special win for our team and for all of Seattle," Sankey, who recorded his ninth 100-yard rushing game of the season, said.
Sankey added a second score on another 11-yard run with 2:36 remaining in the first half that capped a four-play, 35-yard drive that was set up by Jessie Callier's 47-yard kickoff return and gave the Huskies a 21-13 lead.
The Washington victory overshadowed another impressive outing by Hill, who carried the ball 31 times for 157 yards and completed 25 of 48 passes for 293 as he totaled 450 total yards.
BYU senior wide receiver Cody Hoffman concluded his final campaign with his 18th career 100-yard receiving game after catching 12 passes for 167 yards.
"We started a little slow this year but these guys are Huskies and they finished strong. I am fired up for them," Tuiasosopo said. "We set a goal for tonight and after all that went down recently, we were still able to regroup. We wanted to finish as winners and we did."
NOTES: The 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl is the last at AT&T Park as the event will move to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014 . . . Washington's John Ross' 100-yard kickoff return in the second quarter eclipsed the previous game record of 95 yards set by Navy's Gee Gee Greene against Arizona State in 2012 . . . Former Boise State head coach Chris Peterson now takes over the Washington program after being named to the post in early December . . . The Huskies' win snapped a two-game bowl losing streak . . . BYU, which was playing in its ninth straight bowl game, had its four-game bowl winning streak snapped.