Michael Penix Jr. says Washington had faith in defense to make plays late
Michael Penix Jr. could only stand on the sideline and watch as the Washington defense tried to hold off a furious comeback attempt from Texas in Monday night’s College Football Playoff semifinal.
With 2:40 to play in the game, Washington held a 37-28 lead. Texas kicked a field goal with 1:09 remaining and then, after an unfortunate injury to Dillon Johnson saved the Longhorns a huge chunk of clock, Texas got the ball back with 45 seconds to play and pushed it all the way to the Washington 13-yard-line.
Elijah Jackson batted down a fourth-down heave to the endzone and Washington secured a 37-31 victory to advance to the CFP National Championship against Michigan, but there were absolutely some nervy moments late inside the Caesars Superdome.
When he met with ESPN’s Molly McGrath after the game, Penix said the Huskies trusted the defense to go out and make the necessary plays to preserve the win.
“Just continue to believe, man. Obviously, it wasn’t pretty. The defense, they hold themselves to a high standard and they hold themselves accountable in every situation,” Penix said. “So, they wouldn’t have wanted it to be that close, but, as a whole team on the sideline, everybody believing and everybody just trusting they were going to come up with that big-time stop because they’ve done it all throughout the year.”
The six-point win was Washington’s fifth consecutive game decided by seven points or less and its 10th consecutive game decided by 10 points or less.
No other team in the Division I era, which dates back to 1973, has played in even nine consecutive 10-point games and won all of them.
Washington just finds a way. And it did so again on Monday night.
“Our bond, the love we have for one another, just everything we’ve been through, all the offseason stuff we’ve been through. We just find ways to overcome and always battle to find ways to win,” Penix said. “That’s what it’s about.”
Penix, who threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns, credited offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb for his performance. He said the coaching staff had them more than prepared for the game. UW was in New Orleans around New Year’s. There were distractions aplenty surrounding the Sugar Bowl. But the Huskies were focused on the task at hand.
“Seeing the team lock in, and when it was time to work, they came to work,” Penix said. “That’s what led to this win.”