SEATTLE — Jake Locker was crestfallen. The sophomore quarterback did everything he could to give Washington a chance for an upset of No. 15 Brigham Young and still ended up apologizing for the Huskies’ loss.
Locker was penalized for celebrating what could have been a game-tying touchdown run with 2 seconds left, and BYU’s Jan Jorgensen blocked the 35-yard extra-point attempt to help the Cougars hold on for a 28-27 victory Saturday.
“I just was excited,” Locker said somberly, looking at the ground while facing a throng of questions about the decisive play. “I like to play the game with emotion and it got the best of me.”
Locker accounted for 270 of Washington’s 337 total yards.
He drove the Huskies 76 yards in 17 plays, capped by his 3-yard plunge left to pull Washington within one. Locker jumped up and threw the ball high over his shoulder before celebrating with his teammates. The toss brought a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call, a point of emphasis for officials this season after touchdowns.
Jorgensen, BYU’s stellar defensive end, busted through the line and got a hand on Ryan Perkins’ long-distance PAT, setting off a wild celebration for the Cougars.
“I was surprised they threw it,” Jorgensen said of Locker’s penalty. “It just turned out well for us. It was one of those things when they threw the flag it was destiny. You felt like we were supposed to win this game.”
Locker’s celebration would be considered fairly tame. He said he’d never been called for an unsportsmanlike penalty before, and it appeared Locker was simply reacting to a stunning conclusion after BYU had taken a 28-21 lead with 3:31 left.
But as soon as the ball left Locker’s hands and went into the air, officials’ hands were tied, according to a statement from referee Larry Farina.
“After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty,” Farina said in a statement given to Washington officials. “It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call.”
Following the rule certainly didn’t make it easier for the Huskies to accept.
“It’s one that they almost have to call,” coach Tyrone Willingham said. “It really should be a no-call, but it’s one they have to call when they see it.”
BYU, dominant within the Mountain West Conference over the last two years, beat a nonconference opponent on the road for the first time since downing Utah State in the middle of the 2002 season. The Cougars hadn’t knocked off a team from a BCS conference away from home since beating Mississippi State at the end of the 2001 season.BRIGHAM YOUNG — 28 WASHINGTON — 27
KEY: Washington quarterback Jake Locker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after celebrating a touchdown in the closing seconds, and kicker Ryan Perkins had his tying 35-yard point-after try blocked as Brigham Young held on for the victory.