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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The exceptional comeback story of Michael Penix Jr. is a victory away from an ideal ending for Washington.

Penix handed for 430 yards and two touchdowns, and the Huskies held off Texas 37-31 within the Sugar Bowl on Monday night time to advance to the School Soccer Playoff title recreation, incomes each the sixth-year quarterback with two surgically repaired knees and the beleaguered Pac-12 an opportunity to exit a champion.

The second-ranked Huskies (14-0) will face No. 1 Michigan subsequent Monday night time in Houston with a 21-game successful streak, in search of their first nationwide championship since 1991 and the Pac-12’s first since Southern California in 2004.

Washington is one among 10 colleges fleeing the Pac-12 for different Energy 5 conferences subsequent season, with the Huskies headed to hitch Michigan within the Massive Ten. The convention isn’t going away, however its days as a possible soccer energy are doubtless accomplished.

However first, the ultimate season of the four-team playoff earlier than enlargement to 12 in 2024 comes right down to a Pac-12-Massive Ten matchup, similar to the primary when Ohio State beat Oregon.

“Huskie Nation get up,” Penix instructed the UW crowd within the postgame trophy ceremony. “We goin’ to the natty!”

No. 3 Texas (12-2) had 4 photographs on the finish zone after attending to the Washington 12 with 15 seconds left, however Quinn Ewers missed on the final three passes. The ultimate throw was a fade to Adonai Mitchell that was knocked away by Washington‘s Elijah Jackson.

“These guys are essentially the most resilient guys I’ve ever been round,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer mentioned.

In Texas’ first CFP look and last soccer recreation as a member of the Massive 12 earlier than it goes to the Southeastern Convention, Ewers handed for 318 yards and a landing. Nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient towards Penix and his array of proficient receivers.

“They have been a second away from enjoying for a nationwide championship,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned. “They need to be happy with themselves. Penix bought sizzling and (Washington) made some large performs down the sector.”

Penix spent his first 4 school seasons at Indiana, struggling three season-ending accidents, one to every knee and one to his throwing shoulder.

When his former offensive coordinator at Indiana, DeBoer, took over at Washington, Penix didn’t assume twice earlier than transferring to Seattle, after which determined to reap the benefits of an additional yr of eligibility and returned for a second yr.

”He’s been on a mission since he selected to return again, and plenty of the opposite guys adopted his lead,” DeBoer mentioned

The left-hander stayed wholesome and blossomed right into a star, the Heisman Trophy runner-up this yr, and now has an opportunity to win a nationwide championship after one other sensible efficiency.

“It was the powerful instances. I really feel like every little thing I’ve been by constructed me for this,” Penix mentioned.

Penix went 29 for 38 with no turnovers. He accomplished 12 straight at one level, the longest on-target streak within the CFP’s 10-year historical past.

And he did it attacking down area as normal. He accomplished six passes of at the very least 20 yards, connecting with Rome Odunze six instances for 125 yards and Ja’Lynn Polk 5 instances for 122.

It was in some methods an ideal CFP semifinal for the final season earlier than huge modifications in school soccer: two groups switching conferences subsequent season, led by star quarterbacks who transferred in.

A wild first half included a 77-yard reference to Polk on Penix’s second move of the sport, Texas defensive deal with Byron Murphy II plunging into the tip zone for a 1-yard TD run, a Penix-to-Polk TD move when the receiver tipped the ball to himself and the Longhorns capping the second quarter with a protracted landing drive to tie it at 21-all at intermission.

There was a fourth-and-1 cease by Texas of Washington deep in Longhorns territory, which didn’t deter DeBoer from going for a fourth-and-1 at his personal UW 33, and changing.

Penix had 255 yards within the first half alone, after which saved it rolling on the primary drive of the second half, throwing a dart down the center to Jalen McMillen for a 19-yard rating.

Washington added two area targets by Grady Gross to take a 34-21 lead early within the fourth quarter. Holding the Huskies to area targets saved Texas within the recreation, and when Ewers discovered Mitchell, the Georgia switch with two nationwide titles, for a 1-yard rating with 7:23 left, it was a one-possession recreation.

The Superdome appeared like Darrell Ok. Royal Stadium east, with Texas followers simply outnumbering the guests from the Pacific Northwest.

Penix calmly went again to work, hitting Odunze over the shoulder for 32 yards down the sideline to arrange a first-and-goal that led to the third area aim of the day for Gross, a former walk-on who was placed on scholarship after hitting a walk-off winner within the Apple Cup.

That put Washington up 37-28 with 2:40 left, and had its purple-clad followers doing its greatest to drown out the Longhorns with a “Let’s go Huskies!” chant.

Texas kicked a area aim with 1:09 left reduce the result in six. Washington recovered an onside kick, however couldn’t kill the clock. Texas flew down the sector and had an unbelievable comeback in sight.

“Simply was trying to give my guys a chance to go make a play,” Ewers mentioned of his last throws. On the finish of the day, that’s all you may actually do.

Washington got here by within the clutch – once more.

“They’ve accomplished all of it yr, arising with big-time stops in big-time moments,” Penix mentioned.

The Huskies’ final 10 victories have all been determined by 10 factors or fewer. The shut video games have introduced doubters.

“We’re at all times disrespected, at all times made the underdogs,” mentioned defensive finish Bralen Trice, one other upperclassman who returned this season to make title run.


Texas: Got here in with a vaunted line of defense led by All-America defensive deal with T’Vondre Sweat and second-team All-American Murphy. They have been powerful to run towards, as normal, however they didn’t get a lot strain on Penix by an offensive line that was named the very best within the nation. All through the week either side appeared just a little bored with speaking concerning the line matchup when the Huskies had the ball. Finally, the Huskies’ large guys got here out on high, not permitting a sack.

Washington: On the Huskies’ last offensive play as they tried to burn clock, star working again Dillon Johnson was shaken up, which stopped the clock and gave Texas an additional 30 seconds or so for their very own drive. There was no phrase on Johnson’s standing for the matchup with Michigan.


Texas: Will Ewers be again for the Longhorns or is it Arch Manning time in Austin? Keep tuned.

Washington: The Huskies are 5-8 all-time towards Michigan, together with 2-2 in Rose Bowls.

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