- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
SEATTLE -- Regardless of the weather, Washington running back Bishop Sankey is going to get his touches. He knows it; opposing defenses know it. It's fact.
Put the Huskies in a constant rain, throw in a gusting wind, and it's all Sankey, all the time. That was the case on Saturday as the junior ran for 161 yards on a school-record 40 carries to lift No. 16 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) past previously unbeaten Arizona (3-1, 01), 31-13.
"You play the hand that you're dealt, and those were the conditions we had and [Sankey] was awesome," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "He didn't change, his focus was there, his body language didn't change from his first carry to his last one."
The 40 carries breaks the record (38) Corey Dillon set in the Apple Cup against Washington State in 1996, and if Washington hadn't pulled away in the fourth, Sarkisian would have kept calling Sankey's number. That would have been fine by Sankey, who said fatigue was not a factor.
"You just had to dig deep, and that's something that we preach here is mental toughness," said Sankey, the nation's No. 2 leading rusher coming in. "That's what I was trying to do for the team."
It didn't hurt that he was coming off what, by his standards, amounted to a game off last week against Idaho State. That four-carry, 77-yard performance was no accident, Sarkisian said. Keeping his workhorse fresh for the Pac-12 opener was part of the grand plan.
"That's why he had four carries last week and 40 tonight," he said. "We knew coming into the game that both were going to go fast."
The win brings Washington to 4-0 for the first time since 2001. That year the Huskies, as the No. 10-ranked team, lost the next week on the road at No. 7 UCLA and finished 8-4, which included a loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
They'll face a similar challenge next week on the road at No. 5 Stanford.
After scheduling itself to a 3-0 record with games against Northern Arizona, UNLV and Texas-San Antonio, Arizona remained as much of a mystery as a 3-0 team could be. Coming into Saturday's game on the banks of Lake Washington, Arizona had the opportunity to prove its legitimacy. Instead, the Wildcats showed they have a lot to get cleaned up.
Offensively, it took time for Arizona to adjust to the step up in competition.
In the first quarter, the Wildcats finished with more plays (16) than total yards (11) and didn't complete a pass or register a first down. Their first eight possessions of the game netted no points -- not factoring in Washington's safety on a botched Arizona punt -- and just 75 yards.
"That's why you play in the Pac-12, because you have bigger, faster, athletes," Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker said. "But I don't think it was anything we couldn't handle. Our offensive line was fine. Ka'Deem [Carey] ran the ball well. When I got hit, it wasn't like my whole body broke. It hurt like every other hit. These guys weren't superhuman out there."
It wasn't until they were pressed for time did the Wildcats find any semblance of an offense. Given the ball at their own 14 with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first half, the Wildcats marched 84 yards in 14 plays, and Carey scored from three yards out to make it 11-6.
It was the first touchdown Washington had allowed in the first half this year.
The Wildcats answered Washington's 95-yard touchdown drive to open the second half with a 72-yard one of their own, but after cutting the deficit to 18-13, Arizona couldn't keep pace.
"It would have been nice when we got the momentum going to get a stop on defense or anther big play on offense to get the lead," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We never really made them face any adversity. You have to give them credit for that."
Carey, who led the nation in rushing a year ago, finished with 132 yards on 30 carries.
Arizona remains on the road next week at USC.