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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Dec. 5, 2023

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No. 8 Washington uses 45-point first half to cruise past California 59-32

Defense, special teams spot Huskies early 14-0 lead

3 Photos
Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) celebrates his touchdown against California with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) and running back Sam Adams II (28) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Seattle.
Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) celebrates his touchdown against California with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) and running back Sam Adams II (28) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson) Photo Gallery

SEATTLE (AP) — Rome Odunze scored on an 83-yard punt return and a 35-yard reception in the first half, Edefuan Ulofoshio returned an interception 45 yards for a score on the first possession of the game, and No. 8 Washington scored 45 first-half points on its way to a 59-32 win over California on Saturday night.

Washington led 14-0 before star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. ever saw the field. And when he did, Penix threw for three first-half touchdowns as the Huskies tied a school record for points in a half.

Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) made everything look surprisingly easy, leading by as much as 40 against an opponent that’s been a problem in recent years.

Penix played into the third quarter and finished 19 of 25 for 304 yards. He found Ja’Lynn Polk for touchdowns of 8 and 24 yards, the first of which Polk pinned the ball against his helmet as he went to the turf.

Odunze followed up his TD catch in the first half with a 13-yard scoring reception in the third quarter on a screen pass.

Polk finished with eight catches for 127 yards and Odunze had five receptions for 125 yards.

The 101st meeting between the Golden Bears and Huskies was the conference opener for both and the final time the two original members of what’s now the Pac-12 would meet as members of the same conference.

Washington and California were founding members of the Pacific Coast Conference that started play in 1916. And more than 100 years later the Huskies and Golden Bears met for the final time before Washington heads to the Big Ten and Cal becomes a member of the ACC.

It was a forgettable trip for the visitors.

California quarterback Ben Finley was 17 of 32 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times in the first half. The problems started for Cal (2-2, 0-1) immediately as Ulofoshio intercepted a poor throw by Finley on the sixth play of the game. It was the first interception of Ulofoshio’s career.

Cal was forced to punt on its next possession and Odunze found open space for the first punt return touchdown of his career.

Cal running back Jadyn Ott returned after sitting out last week against Idaho but could never get started against Washington’s defense. Ott was held to 40 yards on 14 carries.

Finley was hurt during an interception return in the third quarter that was called back on a penalty and only then did Cal turn to Sam Jackson V at quarterback. Jackson had started two of the first three games.

Jeremiah Hunter and Taj Davis both had touchdown receptions for the Bears. Davis played last season at Washington.


Washington’s 45 points in the first half matched a school record set four times previously. It also tied California’s record for most points allowed in a half. Washington also scored 40 or more points in a fourth straight game in the same regular season for the first time since 1944.


California: The Bears need to get their QB situation settled. Finley was shaky before getting hurt and Jackson looked good but against Washington’s backups.

Washington: The Huskies enjoyed yet another big offensive day despite wide receiver Jalen McMillan not playing after suffering a lower leg injury last week at Michigan State. McMillan sat the second half against the Spartans and was on the Huskies sideline but not in full uniform against Cal.


California: The Bears host Arizona State next Saturday.

Washington: The Huskies are at Arizona next Saturday.

No. 8 Washington 59, California 32

California 6 6 7 13 32
Washington 24 21 7 7 59

First Quarter

WASH_Ulofoshio 45 interception return (Gross kick), 12:37.

WASH_Odunze 83 punt return (Gross kick), 9:13.

CAL_J.Hunter 7 pass from Finley (kick failed), 5:52.

WASH_Polk 8 pass from Penix (Gross kick), 2:19.

WASH_FG Gross 41, :38.

Second Quarter

WASH_D.Johnson 3 run (Gross kick), 11:27.

CAL_T.Davis 24 pass from Finley (pass failed), 9:00.

WASH_Polk 24 pass from Penix (Gross kick), 4:08.

WASH_Odunze 35 pass from Penix (Gross kick), :44.

Third Quarter

WASH_Odunze 13 pass from Penix (Gross kick), 11:28.

CAL_Ott 2 run (Luckhurst kick), 1:49.

Fourth Quarter

CAL_Grizzell 20 pass from S.Jackson (kick failed), 10:48.

WASH_Adams 9 run (Gross kick), 7:08.

CAL_Stredick 3 run (Bhaghani kick), 3:40.

First downs 28 23
Total Net Yards 502 524
Rushes-yards 35-139 30-135
Passing 363 389
Punt Returns 1-2 1-83
Kickoff Returns 4-74 3-66
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 3-87
Comp-Att-Int 27-46-3 23-32-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts 4-48.75 2-55.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 2-10 9-78
Time of Possession 29:50 30:10


RUSHING_California, Ott 14-40, Stredick 6-30, Ifanse 6-30, J.Thomas 4-22, Finley 4-14, Jackson 1-3. Washington, D.Johnson 10-66, Nixon 5-39, Adams 4-22, Rogers 8-8, Penix 2-5, Morris 1-(minus 5).

PASSING_California, Finley 17-32-3-207, Jackson 10-14-0-156. Washington, Penix 19-25-1-304, Morris 4-7-0-85.

RECEIVING_California, J.Hunter 5-85, Davis 5-60, Grizzell 4-86, Endries 4-54, Hightower 3-32, Montgomery 3-31, Ott 2-12, M.Young 1-3. Washington, Polk 8-127, Odunze 5-125, Williams 2-30, Nixon 2-8, Rogers 1-47, Bernard 1-20, D.Johnson 1-9, Culp 1-8, Sirmon 1-8, Westover 1-7.


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