SEATTLE — Keith Price threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half, Deontae Cooper scored his first career touchdown after three major knee surgeries, and No. 17 Washington routed Idaho State 56-0 on Saturday in the Huskies’ final tuneup before the start of Pac-12 Conference play.
Bishop Sankey, the national leader in yards rushing per game, barely broke a sweat against the Bengals (2-1) of the FCS. Sankey saw action on the Huskies’ (3-0) first three series and scored on a 3-yard TD run in the first quarter. Sankey finished with 77 yards on four carries.
Price played a little more than 1 1/2 quarters, throwing TD passes of 1, 6 and 5 yards and adding a 1-yard TD run as the Huskies led 42-0 at halftime. It was the second straight season the Huskies overwhelmed a lower division opponent in the first half. Last year, Washington led Portland State 45-0 at halftime.
Washington has won its first three games for the first time since 2001 when it started 4-0. The team reopened Husky Stadium by dominating Boise State, earned its first non-conference road win since 2007 by winning at Illinois last week, and got backups playing time against the Bengals.
The real test for Washington begins next week when Arizona visits Seattle to open Pac-12 play. It starts a brutal four-game stretch to conference play that is followed by a game at Stanford, home for Oregon, and at Arizona State.
That upcoming challenge, as much as the opponent, was the reason Sankey’s day was so limited. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said earlier this week the 35 carries Sankey had against Illinois were too many. Sankey had runs of 36, 3, 16 and 22 yards before calling it a day and turn the running load over to a deep stable of backups.
Jesse Callier had an 8-yard TD run in the first quarter, but Cooper’s first TD was the highlight. Cooper scored on a 4-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter with the remaining crowd erupting in cheers. Cooper was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school and has come back from three ACL injuries. Saturday was the most extensive action of his career against the Bengals with 14 carries for 59 yards.
Freshman John Ross also got to show off his speed, taking a screen pass from Cyler Miles 57 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Miles ended up Washington’s leading rusher with 89 yards on four carries. The Huskies’ 680 total offensive yards were second-most in school history.
But Sarkisian will have plenty to bark about. Washington was sloppy with penalties for the second straight week with two touchdowns called back. The Huskies were penalized 16 times.
Idaho State lost its 19th straight game to FBS opponents and hasn’t knocked off a higher-division squad since beating Utah State in 2000. The Bengals were coming off a pair of wins over Division II opponents, and Justin Arias began the day as the FCS leader in yards passing per game at 434. But the Bengals’ undersized offensive line couldn’t match Washington’s power and speed, and Arias was under pressure all afternoon. He was sacked five times in the first half and missed on his first six passes before finding Broc Malcolm on a 5-yard completion early in the second quarter.
Idaho State spent most of the first half with negative total yards and finished the half with just 20 yards of offense. Arias finished 18 of 39 for 140 yards and two interceptions.