Dawgs’ Defense Delivers In 44-19 Rout
By Mason Kelley
For Danny Shelton, defensive success came down to two things: Turnovers and faith. When Washington took the field against Illinois, the Huskies were determined to atone for last week’s mistakes.
With plenty to prove, they forced two turnovers, scored a pair of touchdowns and recorded six sacks in a 44-19 win over the Illini on Saturday at Husky Stadium.
“We just came with a totally different mindset,” Shelton said. “We adjusted some of the problems we had last week. We came out focusing on turnovers and just had faith in each other.”
Linebacker Shaq Thompson finished with two touchdowns – a 52-yard fumble return and a 36-yard interception – while Hau’oli Kikaha added six tackles and three sacks.
“Everybody is energized,” Shelton said. “They want to get on the field and make a play. It’s just more competition for us to get after the ball and get after the quarterback.”
Andrew Hudson, Jarett Finau and Cory Littleton all recorded sacks and Washington’s young secondary made plays. For the Huskies, it was just a matter of carrying things over from practice to the game.
“It was awesome,” said receiver Jaydon Mickens, who praised the efforts of his teammates. “They came out today and did everything they did the whole week in practice. I was expecting nothing less from them.”
The Huskies entered the game with a chip on their shoulders. They played with the confidence that comes with using mistakes to get better.
“Coming into this game, people thought we were ‘young,’” said safety Kevin King, who had five tackles and forced a fumble. “We had a lot of people throwing a lot of excuses out there. We wanted to show people we don’t have any excuses. We can compete with anybody in the nation. That’s what we did today.”
After scoring a touchdown on offense last week, Thompson helped spark Washington by scoring twice on defense. But Thompson’s individual numbers don’t mean much to the junior do-everything standout.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Thompson, when asked about his performance. “I’ve just got to get better.”
Three games. Three wins. Instead of talking about his trips to the end zone, Thompson said he wants to take a closer look at the Illini’s touchdowns.
“We’ve got to go back on Monday and look at the film,” Thompson said. “What went wrong? Why did the two touchdowns come up? We’ve got to just get better for next week.”