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Sankey's MVP effort not enough for Washington in Las Vegas Bowl

Dec 23, 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Sometimes one doesn't need to say much in order to say a lot. Case in point: running back Bishop Sankey's body language told the story Saturday as Washington fell 28-26 to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The sophomore was hunched over, with a look that said 'What if...' on his face. He perked up slightly when asked about his MVP performance in a losing effort; a total of 279 yards, a school bowl record for rushing yards and a momentum changing touchdown. He looked optimistic when talking about his team's comeback effort. But as his coach talked about all the turning points in the game and all the mistakes, it couldn't be more clear that there was only one thing on the running back's mind. "I'm disappointed," Sankey said. "The MVP trophy doesn't really mean as much if you're coming out a loser. I'm just really disappointed we didn't get the win but I'm proud that we fought all four quarters and our team battled." The Huskies were in the game throughout despite a slow start in the 1st half, battling a Broncos team that were Mountain West champions and sporting a three win advantage on the Pac-12 North squad coming into the game. Washington took the lead following a 14 play, 76-yard drive that milked the clock and appeared to give them that elusive eighth win for the first time since 2001. Like the Apple Cup to end the season however, they just couldn't hold on. Boise State's Michael Frisina wound up kicking the game-winning 27-yard field goal with just over a minute left and the season ended on a disappointing note as Keith Price's final throw of the evening was picked off. “It's a frustrating, frustrating loss," said coach Steve Sarkisian. "Our inability to finish is pretty glaring and will be a point of emphasis in the offseason.” The Huskies nearly pulled it off. Behind Sankey's 205 yards on the ground, Price came out much sharper in the 2nd half and led the team down the field on back-to-back scoring drives to put Washington ahead late. Special teams proved to be the weak link late however, as Shane Williams-Rhodes returned it out to the Washington 42 with just 4:09 left on the clock. Boise State only went 32 yards to move into field goal position but took 2:53 off the clock. Frisina's field goal sailed through the uprights to end a run of tough, late game misses in big moments for the Broncos. "What a game," said quarterback Joe Southwick, who finished 26-for-38, 264 yards and two touchdowns. "We knew it was going to take 4 quarters to have the possibility of beating this quality opponent. We got down there and decided to make Washington use their timeouts. [Frisina] had ice in his veins and kicked it through." "We knew they were a good team," Broncos coach Chris Petersen said. "All 7-5 records are not equal because these guys have beaten too many good opponents and played too much good football that you get a gauge of what they're all about." Washington has been looking to get over the hump and enter the discussion to be one of the best in the Pac-12 but it appears that will be saved for next season. It has been a long climb from the Huskies' winless campaign in 2008 but as much progress as Sarkisian and staff have made, it's clear that there is still plenty of work. "I think a key component this offseason is finding that third consistent element to our offense," said Sarkisian. "Obviously we have a tremendous young back in Bishop. We've got two really good receivers in Kasen [Williams] and Austin [Seferian-Jenkins]. But it's that third element that will really be key to us to be a complete offensive football team next fall." Sarkisian should find out quickly if he's found the solution. Washington opens the renovated Husky Stadium in 2013 with Boise State, the same opponent they came close to beating to end the 2012 campaign. "It's going to be another 4 quarter game, it's going to be a slugfest," he said. "They're a very well-coached team and their kids play hard. That's exactly what I'll expect the next time around," Sarkisian said. "We've got nine months to get ready to play." After the disappointing way it ended in the Las Vegas Bowl, it might be a long nine months until the opener for Washington.