MADISON, Wis. — Nakia Watson scored two touchdowns against his former team as Washington State beat No. 19 Wisconsin 17-14 on Saturday.
Watson scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter and put the Cougars (2-0) ahead for good by turning a short completion into a 31-yard score with 5:12 left in the third quarter. Watson rushed for 522 yards and five touchdowns at Wisconsin from 2019-20 before transferring.
“He represented himself and all the work he’s put in,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “I’m proud of him.”
A game that featured three turnovers by each team and multiple bizarre plays produced a happy homecoming for Dickert.
Dickert was born in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, about 65 miles east of Camp Randall Stadium. Dickert played for Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 2002-06, and about 200 friends and relatives gathered for a pregame tailgate Saturday.
“My grandma told me something today, your grandpa would be so proud if my grandpa was still here,” Dickert said. “That’s a special moment. Special people that just know me as Jake Dickert. That’s always what we’ve been. I’m just proud to be able to win this game with all of them here cheering us on.”
This game featured two separate plays in which one team intercepted a pass and then fumbled the ball away, creating a first down for the team that threw the pick.
Wisconsin (1-1) trailed 17-14 and faced third-and-6 from the Washington State 9 midway through the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Christian Mejia picked off a Graham Mertz pass before losing the football. Wisconsin recovered at the Washington State 20, but a personal foul on Badgers tight end Clay Cundiff after the play pushed them back to the 35.
Cundiff then caught a 24-yard pass, but Quinn Roff forced a fumble that Sam Lockett III recovered at the 12 with 5:14 left.
Washington State never gave up possession the rest of the way.
Wisconsin’s two touchdowns came in the second quarter on passes from Mertz to Cundiff. They connected on a 17-yarder and a 10-yarder, the latter coming 20 seconds before halftime.
These were Cundiff’s first touchdowns since the tight end dislocated his right ankle, broke a fibula and tore a foot ligament in a victory over Iowa last October. His first game back from that injury came in Wisconsin’s 38-0 victory over Illinois State last year.
Washington State rallied from a 14-7 halftime deficit. The Cougars capitalized on Wisconsin’s 11 penalties and two missed field-goal attempts.
“We didn’t help ourselves,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said.
The Cougars trailed 14-10 and had third and 10 from their 47 when Ward was hit by Kamo’I Latu just as he threw a pass that Wisconsin’s Jay Shaw picked off. Washington State receiver Lincoln Victor then applied a hit that knocked the ball loose, and center Konner Gomness recovered the fumble at the Wisconsin 49.
Instead of losing the ball on the turnover, Washington State suddenly had a first down just beyond midfield.
Six plays later, Watson caught a pass just beyond the line of scrimmage, made a spin move to get past Latu at the 30 and raced untouched the rest of the way for a 31-yard touchdown that put the Cougars ahead 17-14.
Washington State next hosts Colorado State on Saturday.
Penix leads Washington to 52-6 win over Portland State
SEATTLE — Michael Penix Jr. threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 94 yards and a score and the Washington Huskies easily took down FCS school Portland State 52-6 on Saturday.
Penix shined in Washington’s second straight feel-good win against an overmatched opponent to open the season under new coach Kalen DeBoer. The level of difficulty increases dramatically for the Huskies (2-0) next Saturday when No. 14 Michigan State visits.
Penix broke open the game with an 84-yard touchdown pass to Jalen McMillan with 9:51 left in the second quarter for a 21-0 lead over the Vikings (0-2). He also threw to Ja’Lynn Polk for a 12-yard score in the half. Cameron Davis scored two rushing touchdowns and Will Nixon and Denzel Boston added rushing TDs of their own as the Huskies ran for 241 yards and five touchdowns.
Penix had 248 yards by halftime as Washington built a 31-3 lead, a late first-half overthrown interception his only blemish on the score sheet.
McMillan finished with four catches for 127 yards. His TD catch was the seventh longest reception in school history and capped UW’s fourth 99-yard drive. Later in the second quarter he caught a 37-yard pass from Penix to set up Taulapapa’s 6-yard score for a 28-3 lead with 2:13 left in the half.
The Huskies had 500 of their 617 yards by the end of the third quarter and held Portland State to 131 yards, and just 50 yards passing with four sacks.
The Huskies host No. 14 Michigan State next Saturday in the third of four home games to start the season. It will be the Spartans’ first trip to Seattle since 1970.