Washington returned to friendly confines on Saturday and got back to its winning ways. The Huskies beat the Arizona Wildcats 49-39 to halt a losing skid at two games.

The game was exactly what it was billed as: a shootout. Two reeling secondaries struggled to do anything to slow two dynamite pass games. Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. set a program record. Arizona’s Jayden de Laura fought furiously at the end to keep Arizona in it.

The Wildcats scored on four of their five second-half possessions. The Huskies did the same (not counting a two-play, kneel-down drive to kill the clock at the end). Washington (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) just made a few more plays in the first half to leave with the win. The result dropped Arizona to 3-4 on the year and 1-3 in conference play.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

A chance Arizona needed to take

Arizona’s coaching staff essentially made a game-deciding call on the first play of the second half. The Wildcats, trailing just 21-14 coming out of the halftime break, attempted an onside kick to open the third quarter.

They failed to recover, setting the UW offense up on the plus side of the 50. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. hit Rome Odunze for a 3-yard gain on first down. On second down, the duo connected for a 45-yard touchdown and Washington jumped out to a two-score lead, 28-14.

The Husky score to open the third was the first of three straight touchdown possessions for Washington. The Wildcats simply couldn’t stop the Husky offense. Coach Jedd Fisch and his staff knew they needed to steal a possession because with UW getting the ball to open the third, it was more than likely going to become a two-score game.

We’ve seen Arizona press when it starts to fall behind. Fisch played the odds. They weren’t in his favor, but you can’t really fault the decision.

Washington regains its footing

The Huskies had lost back-to-back road games and entered Saturday’s contest reeling a bit. Two things that really needed to happen for the Huskies happened: Penix found his rhythm again and the UW pass rush came alive late.

We’ll start with Penix. He shredded the Arizona secondary all night. He fit passes into windows like we saw him do throughout the Huskies’ 4-0 start to the year. He spread the ball around, connecting with nine different players. In the process, he set a new program record for passing yards in a single game with 516 while completing 36 of his 44 attempts and tossing four scores.

UW had 13 explosive pass plays. Thirteen! One of college football’s most explosive passing games was as advertised once again.

Onto the defense. UW had 15 sacks in its first four games. That was one of the best paces in the Pac-12 to begin the year. In the two losses, it had one combined sack. They had four sacks against the Wildcats, three of which came in the second half. Jeremiah Martin had two, Zion Tupuola-Fetui had one, and Voi Tunuufi had another. ZTF had his best game of the season, with a punch move on Arizona’s Paiton Fears late in the fourth quarter that sent the tackle stumbling 10 yards into the backfield.

Washington did the things that built momentum in front of its home crowd and can spark some renewed confidence in the group going forward.

Yes, the defense gave up over 500 yards and 39 points, but that was to be expected going against an Arizona team that threw the football around the park just as much as Washington. Arizona’s Jayden de Laura completed 25 of his 34 passes for 400 yards and four scores, but he was a step behind all game. UW’s secondary is very much a work in progress.

Getting the pass game booming again — Penix averaged 11.7 yards (!!!) per attempt — and the pass rush buzzing again were two things that needed to happen. Mission accomplished.

Receiving showcase

All due respect to the reigning Biletnikoff winner, the best receivers in the Pac-12 were on the field inside Husky Stadium Saturday afternoon.

For Washington, each of the top three guys went off. Rome Odunze closed the gap with Arizona’s Jacob Cowing for the top spot on the Pac-12 receiving leaderboard with 169 yards and two scores on nine catches. It was his fourth straight 100-yard outing. Jalen McMillan had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Ja’Lynn Polk had four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. The UW trio is deadly. That group is as good as any receiver room in college football.

And the same can be said for Arizona’s trio of Cowing, Dorian Singer, and freshman Tetairoa McMillan. Cowing had 94 yards and a score on seven catches. Singer had six catches for 99 yards and a score. And McMillan… boy. The first-year wideout is going to be an absolute star for Arizona when it’s all said and done. He had a career-high seven catches for a career-high 132 yards and a career-high two scores.

McMillan already knows how to use his size and his length to his advantage. It’s impressive. He boxes out defenders while using those long arms to go get balls rather than wait for them to come to him. He Moss’d a Washington defensive back late in the fourth to help pull Arizona within three points and give the Wildcats a chance.