SAN ANTONIO — When their flight from Tampa was canceled on Tuesday, Michael and Takisha Penix — parents of notable Husky quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — drove 17 hours to see their son.
Across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Through bathroom breaks, boredom and backseat naps.
Through adversity…to witness history.
That, of course, and a victory in Washington.
In the second quarter of UW’s 27-20 Alamo Bowl victory over No. 20 Texas, Penix set the UW’s single-season passing record – passing Cody Pickett’s 4,458 yards in 2002. He did so on the twilight of a spectacular season in which Indiana’s transfer led the nation in passing yards and passing yards per game.
When his record was announced inside the Alamodome, the Husky fans in attendance rose to their feet – serenading Seattle’s adopted son.
But his teammates earned their own standing ovation.
While Penix struggled early in his bowl debut, Wayne Taulapapa had no such struggles. In his final college game, the 5-foot-11, 207-pound grad sped through a holeshot, stiff-armed cornerback Ryan Watts and rolled for a 42-yard touchdown that gave the Huskies a lead 10-3. UW rushed for 153 yards and 5.5 yards per carry in an effective assault.
“Our running game, that’s something we’ve been focusing on for the last few months,” sixth-year senior left guard Jaxson Kirkland said, dark eyes smeared into his smiling face. “You saw that against Oregon and in the Apple Cup, and it came to life here tonight.”
Texas couldn’t say the same.
Without Doak Walker Award winner Bijan Robinson — who opted out of Thursday’s game to prepare for the NFL Draft — the Longhorns rushed for just 18 yards and 1.8 yards per carry during the first two quarters. Junior linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio went down for a blocked punt early. And, in his 56e and last game at UW, sixth-year senior Peyton Henry converted field goals for 46 and 23 yards.
But Penix’s precision – early on, at least – was atypically absent. The 6-foot-3, 213-pound left-hander – who announced this month that he would return for a sixth season in 2023 – connected on a 35-yard flea flicker to Ja’Lynn Polk during the game of opener … only to give up an interception three shots later. He had six straight misses in his first two drives and completed just 16 of 30 passes for 139 yards and one interception in a flawed first half.
But, like his parents, the redshirt junior overcame adversity.
After Texas cut the deficit to 13-10 with a 34-yard touchdown from Jonathon Brooks to start the third quarter, UW responded with a 13-play, 75-yard siege. At fourth-and-first from his own 34-yard line, Penix took a snap under center and dug forward for a two-yard gain. He then hit Quentin Moore for 17 yards, Jalen McMillan for 11 and Jack Westover for 16, before Taj Davis took a screen for a six-yard score.
The Huskies consistently converted calculated risks. After forcing another Texas punt, UW faced Texas 47 fourth and second again. After dispatching punter Jack McCallister, Texas called timeout, which gave Kalen DeBoer time. to muster his courage. The Husky offense returned to the field and Penix quickly found tight end Devin Culp for a 9-yard gain. He hit McMillan for an 8-yard score seven plays later to take a 27-10 lead.
In all, Penix completed 32 of 54 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in No. 12 Washington’s 11th win. UW — which leads the nation in third efficiency, at 57.06% on conversions — was 11-for-19 in third and 2-for-3 in fourth. Eight different Huskies have recorded a reception, led by McMillan (8 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD) and Rome Odunze (five catches for 57 yards). Junior advantage Bralen Trice also added two sacks.
“Man, that’s amazing,” said Odunze, who added that he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll be back in 2023. “Honestly, I’m speechless to be right now, to have this opportunity with this team, with all that we’ve been through. I just love my brothers and I love everyone who has invested in us and given this time so that we can accomplish these things. Because it takes a village.
“To have all this support and come out and shine like that, and see my teammates shine like that…it’s just awesome, man. The Huskies deserve it. This program deserves it. I’m so proud of my brothers and everyone who were involved in this.
Texas recorded 10 points behind, via a 3-yard dive from Brooks and a 26-yard field goal from Bert Auburn. It didn’t matter.
A month-long layoff, a late charge in Texas, a hostile crowd, an inconsistent first half, and a flight cancellation…
None of this stopped Penix – neither his parents nor his brothers – from achieving their goal.
THE SCORE OF THE BOX