Published September 19, 2015
SEATTLE (AP) Jake Browning has alleviated many of the concerns about Washington's youth headed into the start of Pac-12 Conference play.
Browning threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, and Washington pulled away in the second half for a 31-17 win over Utah State on Saturday.
Washington (2-1) closed out its nonconference schedule with a second straight 300-yard passing game from the true freshman. Browning hit Dwayne Washington on an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the first half, then threw a pair of TDs in the third quarter as the Huskies built a 21-point lead. Browning hit Washington open down the middle for a 33-yard TD then pirouetted away from the rush for a 3-yard TD toss to Drew Sample, his first career catch.
Kicker Tristan Vizcaino added a 2-yard TD run on a fake field goal in the first half.
Utah State (1-2) got two touchdowns from defensive players: Nose tackle David Moala had a 1-yard TD run in the first half and Jontrell Rocquemore returned a fumble 97 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Browning has steadily improved from the opener at Boise State where he struggled through moments of looking like a freshman and couldn't get the Huskies offense started. He threw for 326 yards last week against Sacramento State and was even better against a higher quality opponent.
Utah State's defense did its part in slowing down Washington's run game. The Huskies leading rusher was Myles Gaskin with 42 yards, most of those coming in the fourth quarter.
But the Aggies had no ability to stop Browning through the air.
After Browning's first pass of the second half was intercepted, he completed 12 straight throws before Quinten Pounds' drop with 4:14 left. The 368 yards passing were the most by a Washington QB since Keith Price threw for 375 against California in 2013.
Browning got help from Washington, using his speed to race past linebackers on both of his touchdowns. Washington took a short dump pass and beat Nick Vigil to the corner, then got a key downfield block by Dante Pettis to race down the sideline on the 81-yard score. Then on the 33-yard touchdown, Washington ran past the linebackers dropping in coverage and Browning dropped the pass over the top for the score.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was intercepted twice, including being picked off at the goal line early in the fourth quarter and watching Brandon Beaver return it 96 yards - the longest interception return in Washington history - before being tackled from behind at the 3. Hunter Sharp's tackle proved critical as Jeff Lindquist fumbled two plays later and Rocquemore returned it 97 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 31-17 with 9:47 left.
Keeton was 17 of 32 for 171 yards.