Stanford Falls To No. 18 Huskies In Conference Opener
By TIM KORTE
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE - Last season, Rich Alexis averaged 62.5 yards rushing pergame. He almost got that much on one carry Saturday.
Alexis ran for 128 yards, including a 53-yard for a score, while CodyPickett threw two touchdown passes to Reggie Williams as No. 18 Washington beatStanford 28-17 in the Pac-10 opener for both schools.
'It's a little momentum,' Alexis said. 'We've got our first conferencewin.'
The Huskies (3-1) improved to 20-2 against the Cardinal (2-1) since 1976.Stanford hasn't won in Seattle since 1975, an 11-game streak.
Alexis broke a 53-yard run for a TD late in the first quarter. He startedright, then took advantage of a Stanford stunt by racing into a gaping openspace at midfield and sprinting up the right hash mark to tie it at 7.
'I saw a big hole, the goalpost and the end zone,' Alexis said. 'I toldmyself, 'Keep running, just keep running.''
Alexis averaged 62.5 yards rushing a game last year at the same time Pickettset a Pac-10 single-season record by throwing for 4,458 yards. The Washingtonrunning back credited his improvement to a year's seasoning.
'I'm healthier and the blocking is there,' Alexis said. 'We all know eachother better. We've worked a little more together this year. We understandtheir blocking schemes and where they're going to be at the point of attack.'
Stanford had a late chance, taking over at its own 25 and trailing 21-17with 2:54 remaining. Derrick Johnson sealed Washington's victory byintercepting freshman quarterback Trent Edwards' pass and returning it 36 yardsfor a touchdown.
Jimmy Newell intercepted another pass on Stanford's final series.
'We were in the game for 55 minutes,' Edwards said. 'It really hurts alot, but we've got to learn from our mistakes.'
Stanford led 17-14 midway through the third quarter after Michael Sgroikicked a 28-yard field goal, but the Huskies answered on the ensuing possessionwhen Pickett threw to Williams on a 6-yard score to cap a 76-yard drive.
Pickett completed 20 of 33 passes for 231 yards, but he fumbled twice. Hissecond came inside the Stanford 20 late in the first half, spoiling a chancefor Washington to put up more points before the break.
'If I don't drop the ball we score another touchdown,' Pickett said. 'Iwas trying to get a couple of extra yards.'
Williams had a big day, catching 10 passes for 138 yards.
'We're going to throw him the ball,' Huskies coach Keith Gilbertson said.'You can bracket him. You can double him. You can high-low him. We're going tofind ways to get him the football. That's just the way it is.'
The Cardinal defense, which led the nation after allowing only 4 net yardsrushing in two games, faced a bigger challenge this time. The Huskies had 92yards rushing by the end of the first quarter, with Alexis running for 91.
'We knew it would be a physical game and that they would try to run thefootball,' Stanford coach Buddy Teevens said. 'They did some nice things, butI thought we did some nice things as well.'
After Alexis' long run, the Huskies didn't wait to make it 14-7.
After forcing a punt, Washington needed three plays before Pickett connectedwith Williams again, and the All-American receiver streaked down the leftsideline for a 74-yard play.
Last season, Pickett and Williams were Washington's main offensive threats,but the Huskies have established a reliable ground game this fall. They gained165 yards on 40 carries, with Alexis carrying 24 times.
'We're pleased with what we're doing, that we have balance,' Gilbertsonsaid. 'We're pleased with what Rich is doing. It takes a lot of the burden offPickett to have to do what he did a year ago.'
Last week, Alexis had 116 yards rushing in a 45-14 win over Idaho. He postedconsecutive 100-yard games for the first time since he gained 127 yards againstUCLA and 134 against Washington State as a freshman in 2000.
'That's a long time,' Alexis said. 'But it doesn't bother me as long aswe win.'
Edwards was 16-of-32 for 159 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Hethrew a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Alex Smith for an early 7-0 lead,then found Smith for an 18-yard TD to tie it at 14 early in the second period.