SEATTLE — A wry smile washed across Keith Price’s face as the Washington quarterback thought back to his 18-yard touchdown run, running over a Colorado safety on his way to the end zone.
It was a moment that trumped everything else Price did because quarterbacks rarely get a chance for a “truck stick,” as teammate Bishop Sankey described it.
“I just smelled the end zone so I knew nothing was going to stop me,” Price said.
Price threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as part of Washington’s huge first half on offense, and the Huskies routed Colorado 59-7 to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight season.
Price was masterful in the first half, directing a Washington offense that rolled up nearly 500 yards in 30 minutes. He completed 22 of 29 throws for 312 yards and two scores. He found backup tight end Joshua Perkins sliding out the back side of the formation for a 6-yard TD pass that gave the Huskies a 17-7 lead, then hit Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a 15-yard jump ball on the last scrimmage play of the first half for a 31-7 lead at the break.
Washington (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) ran 59 plays and finished with 464 total yards in the first half alone, and never threw another pass. All 23 offensive plays in the second half were runs.
Washington’s 59 points were the fifth most since 1945. They finished with 628 total yards, the fourth time this season topping 600.
“If I could have wrote a script for tonight … it went about as good as it could have,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
Price’s mobility was important, both moving in the pocket and when he decided to run. Even though he pitched the ball around to seven different players in the first half and directed the Huskies offense with precision, his most memorable moment came when he scrambled.
Facing second-down at the Colorado 18, Price scrambled from the rush, raced for the end zone and blasted through Buffaloes’ safety Parker Orms at the goal line for his third rushing touchdown of the season.
“It came out of him today. He put the truck stick on him and I was happy for him,” Sankey said. “I got pumped up watching that.”
Price checked out after scoring on a 4-yard TD run in the third quarter, giving way to backup Cyler Miles. Price added 29 yards rushing, but it was his passing that tore apart the Buffaloes defense with six completions of 20 yards or more.
Sankey added 143 yards rushing and a 1-yard TD run in the first quarter. Sankey entered the weekend No. 3 in the country averaging 145 yards per game and if not for the blowout, likely would have exceeded his average.
Washington had the liberty of keeping the ball on the ground in the second half because of big plays from its defense.
Washington added 21 third-quarter points and ran only five offensive plays. Tre Watson intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return by the Huskies since 1997. Marcus Peters scooped up a fumble forced by Josh Shirley and raced 53 yards for another defensive score.
It was the first time Washington had two defensive touchdowns in a game since Nov. 9, 2002 against Oregon State.
“That was our whole mentality this week that we needed to get some turnovers,” Peters said. “We’ve been doing a fairly good job this year, but we need to cause more turnovers than we’ve been getting.”
Colorado had a chance to at least make the second half interesting before an odd decision by coach Mike MacIntyre. Quarterback Sefo Liufau, who finished 12 of 22 for 160 yards and a touchdown, drove the Buffaloes to the Washington 39 late in the first half and hit Nelson Spruce for 5 yards to set up fourth-and-1 at the Huskies 34. Colorado used two timeouts and instead of trying to convert the short fourth-down attempt, settled for a 51-yard field goal try that was wide right.
Washington got the ball back with 48 seconds and three timeouts. Price hit Sankey on completions of 19 and 16 yards, and found Jaydon Mickens for 21. With seven seconds left, Price threw down the middle for Seferian-Jenkins, who used his 6-foot-6 frame to block out the Colorado defender and haul in his fifth TD of the season.
The touchdown pulled Price into 10th place all-time in Pac-12 history, tying him with Carson Palmer with 72 career TD passes.
Colorado’s lone highlight was Liufau and Paul Richardson connecting on a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Richardson was questionable to play with an ankle injury, but looked just fine on his long TD reception that put him over 1,000 yards receiving for the season. Richardson had three catches for 77 yards.
“We’ve got to win football games and we didn’t have a chance to win tonight,” MacIntyre said. “I think that’s the first time I’ve completely felt like that.”