Myles Gaskin ran for 134 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Washington shut down No. 17 Southern California’s high-powered offense throughout a 17-12 victory over the Trojans on Thursday night.
Receiver Marvin Hall threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Perkins on a trick play early in the second half for the Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12), who beat former coach Steve Sarkisian in a defense-dominated meeting. Washington beat a ranked team for the first time under second-year coach Chris Petersen.
Cody Kessler had two interceptions while passing for just 156 yards on a disastrous night for the Trojans (3-2, 1-2), the popular preseason pick to win the conference.
Instead, USC couldn’t score a touchdown until Ronald Jones II’s short run with 12:02 to play.
Washington’s defense then came up with two late stops, and the Trojans missed a field goal with 3:44 left. Jaydon Mickens caught a key third-down pass from Washington freshman Jake Browning with 2:10 to play, allowing the Huskies to run out the clock on their first win at the Coliseum since 2010.
Sarkisian faced the Huskies for the first time since he left Washington to take over the Trojans last season, taking five Huskies assistant coaches with him. Sarkisian spent five years in Seattle, restoring a moribund program to competence, but never breaking through to the Pac-12’s elite.
Instead, the Huskies took a major step toward the future at the expense of Sarkisian, who could be on a hot seat before reaching the midway point of his second season.
Tre Madden rushed for 120 yards for the Trojans, who lost their second straight game at the Coliseum following last month’s visit from Stanford. USC rebounded from that loss with a blowout win at Arizona State, but couldn’t repeat its offensive precision back home.
Kessler went 16 for 29 during just the second multi-interception game of the touted senior’s college career, but the entire offense struggled against Washington’s defense, which entered the Coliseum as the Pac-12’s best. The Trojans went 1 for 13 on third downs, and they made three turnovers after committing just two in the first four games.
USC also was hurt when center Max Tuerk and defensive lineman Claude Pelon were lost to knee injuries in the first half. Receiver Steven Mitchell was sidelined in the second half by a sprained ankle, and key cornerback Iman Marshall got hurt on punt coverage shortly afterward.
The Coliseum was less than half-full at kickoff, a product of a weeknight start for television. Both quarterbacks struggled in the mild atmosphere in the first half, with Browning overthrowing open receivers and Kessler throwing two early interceptions.
Kessler threw the 14th interception of his career on USC’s opening drive, just the Trojans’ third turnover all season. USC led 6-3 at halftime after the teams traded field goals.
Before Hall’s trick pass to Perkins in the classic style of Petersen’s Boise State teams, the Huskies were struggling mightily on offense. The Huskies recovered a fumble by JuJu Smith-Schuster deep in USC territory early in the third quarter, and Hall hit a wide-open Perkins for the game’s first touchdown on the next play.
Gaskin scored early in the fourth, but USC’s offense finally awoke on the ensuing drive after Washington linebacker Azeem Victor was ejected for targeting Kessler with 13 minutes to play, erasing a third-down stop by the Huskies’ defense.
Jones made three consecutive big runs capped by his 1-yard TD lunge, but Tre Madden dropped a pass on the 2-point conversion attempt, keeping Washington’s lead at 17-12.