Why anyone ever punts anywhere near Dante Pettis is beyond me. Yet, here we are. Again. And again and again and again…
Entering Saturday’s action, the Washington returner extraordinaire was tied for the FBS career record for punts returned for a touchdown with eight. In the second quarter of the Week 10 game against Oregon, the wide receiver put himself alone at the top of that particular chart.
That 64-yard scoring return gives him nine and breaks the tie that Pettis had been in with Texas Tech’s Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins (2001-04). Not only did Pettis, who has four for scores in 2017, break that career mark, he’s also now also within one of tying the single-season mark of set first by Hawaii’s Chad Owens in 2004 and matched by North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer in 2013.
Earlier this year, Pettis also joined Kansas State’s David Allen (1998) and Switzer (2013) as the only players in FBS history to return a punt for a score in back-to-back-to-back games.
Those who have sacrificed their sleep on the weekends to watch a talented running back duo of Stanford’s Bryce Love and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny this season are already conditioned for this, but Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has become one more reason to stay up late on Saturdays. Tate is close to carrying Arizona by himself as the main attraction in a much-needed turnaround season for Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats.
After diminishing win totals each of the past two seasons, it was fair to suggest this was a critical season for Rodriguez in Tucson. And after a 2-2 start to the season that included some offensive struggles against Houston and Utah at home, Tate’s sudden rise could not have come at a better time. Since taking over at quarterback in early October against Colorado, Tate has been off and running, literally. Tate is essentially Rodriguez’s 2017 edition of Pat White.
Tate is Arizona’s leading rusher with 926 yards and eight touchdowns following his 146 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday night against No. 15 Washington State in a 58-37 victory. Tate also had 275 passing yards and two scores through the air to lead Arizona to a blowout win with a strong second half.
Tate is playing his way into the Heisman Trophy mix against incredible odds, and it is easy to see why. He legitimately has a chance to break a big play every time he touches the football. And as the quarterback, he has his hands on the football every play Arizona runs. Tate is second in the Pac-12 in plays of 30+ yards with 12, trailing only Stanford’s Love. He is one of five players in the conference with a play of 80+ yards and he is the only Pac-12 player with 4 plays of 70 yards or longer (Washington’s Dante Pettis is second in the Pac-12 with two).
As we have noted before, Tate was not the starting quarterback for Arizona at the start of the season, making Tate’s sudden rise in the Pac-12 even more entertaining to those tuning in. This week Tate will be one of the reasons to stay up late once again as Arizona prepares for a road game at USC. With the Trojans also winning last night on the road against Arizona State, first-place is on the line for the Wildcats and Trojans, the last two teams in the Pac-12 South with just one loss in conference play.
If Tate can make similar plays happen against USC and Arizona can leave Los Angeles with a win and a head-to-head tiebreaker, Arizona will have an incredibly manageable path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Taking down the Trojans will be no easy task, but neither will USC’s mission of stopping Tate.
USC hosts Arizona at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. Put a pot of coffee on. It will be worth it.
Why you would ever, ever punt to Dante Pettis is beyond me. Yet, here we are. Again.
In the first two weeks of the 2017 season, the Washington returner extraordinaire had taken two punts to the house, giving him seven such touchdowns for his career. In the first quarter of its Week 3 game, Fresno State opted to punt to him and, well, Pettis did what Pettis does.
In one fell swoop, Pettis tied a pair of NCAA records.
The record for career punt returns for touchdowns is now shared by Pettis with Texas Tech’s Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins (2001-04). Kansas State’s David Allen (1998) and North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer (2013) are the only other players to return one for a score in back-to-back-to-back games.
Washington held their own in the first quarter, aside from one late lost fumble that led to an Alabama field goal at the start of the second quarter, but Alabama’s defense is beginning to gain control of this game. Alabama leads Washington, 17-7, at halftime in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Peach Bowl.
The Huskies have had two turnovers lead to 10 points for Alabama, including a pick-six by Ryan Anderson late in the first half to push Alabama’s lead to 17-7 at halftime.
Washington’s defense has done its part to keep this game from getting out of hand, however. Washington has forced Alabama to punt the ball away twice since scoring the go-ahead field goal from Adam Griffith, with the Crimson Tide only getting as far as the Washington 28-yard line, but an intentional grounding penalty on Jalen Hurts cost the Tide 16 yards (and likely prevented Alabama from at least another three points). The field position battle is not going in Washington’s favor, and the Huskies offense have not been able to get a drive going with three consecutive three-and-outs since fumbling the football away in the first quarter.
The two teams exchanged touchdown drives in the first quarter, with Jake Browning completing a touchdown pass to Dante Pettis for a 7-0 lead, but Bo Scarbrough powered his way to a game-tying touchdown on the ensuing possession for Alabama.
Unless the Huskies can find some way to crack Alabama’s defense, the Crimson Tide look primed and ready to head to the national championship game to defend their title against either Ohio State or Clemson.
The Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies may had a few butterflies at the start of the game with a poor kickoff return from John Ross and a quick three-and-out, but the Huskies struck first in the first quarter of a College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against SEC champion Alabama in the Peach Bowl. Jake Browning delivered a beautiful pass to Dante Pettis to cap the second offensive series of the game for Washington.
The touchdown pass from Browning was his 43rd of the season, setting a new Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes in a single season, breaking the previous record set by former Cal quarterback Jared Goff in 2015.
The Crimson Tide would respond on the ensuing possession by flexing some muscle up front. Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Jalen Hurts all picked up yards on the ground for Alabama, with a key 16-yard gain by O.J. Howard through the air along the way before Scarbrough powered his way across the goal line to score a touchdown on the next drive.
Washington looked to be putting together a decent response of their own on the next drive, but a short pass to Ross was lost by the talented wideout and picked up by Alabama’s Jonathan Allen on Washington’s side of the field. Alabama holds the football at the start of the second quarter as a result.
One key position to keep an eye on as the game plays on will be Washington right tackle, true freshman Nick Harris. Harris has earned a starting role on the Washington offensive line as the season has gone alone, bu he has been given a massive test today against one of the best defensive front sin the nation today. There have already been a few rough moments on the edge.