SEATTLE — Chris Polk scored five touchdowns and became the first player in Washington history with 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game as the Huskies rallied for a 42-31 over Arizona on Saturday night.
Washington (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) withstood another crazy play in the series with the Wildcats — a bobbled pass that was intercepted and returned 91 yards for a touchdown by Robert Golden — and another night of shoddy defense to become bowl eligible for the second straight season.
Polk finished with 144 yards rushing on 34 carries and 100 yards receiving. He scored on touchdown runs of 1, 1, 5 and 2 yards and had a 17-yard TD reception from Keith Price. Polk’s 5-yard scamper with 8:21 left gave Washington the lead, and he pushed the advantage to 11 with 3:59 left when he high-stepped in from the 2.
Nick Foles threw for 388 yards for the Wildcats (2-6, 1-5) but couldn’t do enough to counter Polk’s monster night. Foles finished 32 of 50 passing, and receiver Juron Criner had 11 catches for 118 yards and touchdowns of 24 and 9 yards.
But any Arizona rally and hope of a second straight win under interim coach Tim Kish was dashed when Sean Parker picked off Foles at the Washington 20 with 2:10 left. Foles was intercepted for a third time with 29 seconds left by Washington’s Cort Dennison.
Following Polk’s third rushing TD to put the Huskies up 35-31, Foles led the Wildcats to midfield, but on a quick screen, Criner was stripped by Washington’s Will Shamburger, and freshman linebacker Princeton Fuimaono recovered. Price then hit Jermaine Kearse for 24 yards, Polk sprinted for 14, and the Huskies were back on the Wildcats’ doorstep. On third-and-1 at the Arizona 3, Polk squeezed for the needed yard, then scored on the next play.
Polk set a new school record with his 18th career 100-yard rushing game and topped 1,000 yards for the season.
Kearse ran for a 6-yard touchdown in the first quarter on a lateral pass from Price.
It wasn’t the sharpest night for Price, who didn’t get much help from his receivers at times. Price was 16 of 30 for 277 yards and a TD. He threw a career-high three interceptions, but one came when the receiver slipped and another on one more strange bounce in this series.
After a 43-yard pass to Polk, Washington was on the cusp of taking a two-touchdown lead early in the third quarter. Price threw for James Johnson, who stumbled and never gained full control of the pass. The ball deflected out of his hands and into the arms of Golden. He wove through Washington’s offensive personnel for a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The wacky play rivaled Mason Foster’s game-winning interception return for Washington two years ago in a 36-33 win over the Wildcats that bounced off the foot of an Arizona receiver and into Foster’s arms.
Washington answered with Polk’s second touchdown run, but Arizona ran off the next 10 points and led 31-28 going to the fourth quarter.
Washington got the big play it needed when freshman Kasen Williams took a quick post from Price, bounced off one tackle and carried another defender for a 48-yard gain to the Arizona 21 with less than 10 minutes remaining. After a 26-yard pass to Kevin Smith got the Huskies to the Arizona 5, Polk walked in to give the Huskies a 35-31 lead with 8:21 left.
Arizona still carved up Washington’s struggling defense for 424 total yards a week after the Huskies surrendered 615 yards to No. 4 Stanford. At one point in the first quarter, the Wildcats had 132 total yards to Washington’s minus-10.
But Arizona twice settled for first-half field goals when touchdowns were needed.