Desmond Trufant's interception preserves Washington's win

SEATTLE -- Growing up, Desmond Trufant made frequent trips to little Cheney, Wash. to watch brother Isaiah play defensive back for Eastern Washington.

Trufant did his part in ruining the Eagles' dream Saturday night.

Besieged by passes all night from Eastern quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, Trufant came up with the biggest defensive play of his Washington career, intercepting Mitchell's pass in the end zone with 29 seconds left and preserving the Huskies' 30-27 win over the defending FCS national champions.

The 69th pass of Mitchell's night came up inches short of clinching a huge upset with Trufant winning a jump-ball battle with 6-foot-5 Eastern receiver Brandon Kaufman, wrestling it away as the duo hit the purple turf in the end zone and providing a moment for the 58,000 in attendance to exhale.

"As a kid you always dream about getting the game-winning interception," Trufant said. "It's a great feeling."

Mitchell torched the Huskies' secondary, amassing 473 yards and three touchdowns while completing 39 of 69 passes. He also threw two interceptions.

Eastern's final drive started at its own 5 after a key punt from Kiel Rasp pinned the Eagles deep with 1:17 left and no time outs. Mitchell completed passes of 15, 32 and 23 yards and in barely 30 seconds the Eagles were at the Washington 25.

Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said the Eagles weren't going to sit back and wait for a field-goal attempt to try to force overtime. Mitchell's throw for Kaufman was like so many of his others, but Trufant was in perfect position and made the play Washington needed to preserve the win.

"I thought I put the ball where I wanted. I wanted to give it a little bit short where (Kaufman) could go get it," Mitchell said. "(Kaufman) saw something a little bit different in the corner and thought he should slow down. I'll take it on me. It's my fault. I could have put the ball in a different spot."

Washington quarterback Keith Price threw three touchdown passes in the first home start of his career and Chris Polk ran for 125 yards less than three weeks after having minor knee surgery.

Price threw touchdown passes of 7, 9 and 6 yards and was 17 of 25 for 102 yards. Erik Folk added field goals of 53, 47 and 40 yards for the Huskies in the final home opener at the venerable waterfront stadium before extensive renovations will send Washington across town to CenturyLink Field for the 2012 season. It's the first season opener the Huskies have won since 2007, which was former QB Jake Locker's first career game.

Polk had knee surgery Aug. 18 to clean up a meniscus tear. He said his knee was fine, but the rest of his body ached.

He was also honest that even with Eastern's credentials; he didn't expect this one to be as close as it was.

"I'm actually very surprised. Not to take anything away from Eastern. They're a very good team, but we felt real confident coming in," Polk said. "But they showed up. I'm just glad we came out on top."

Price, who suffered a sprained knee in the first half, saw his mobility hampered by the injury and needed the assistance of a brace to finish the game. He was confident he'd be able to play next week against Hawaii.

Same goes for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter and never returned.

Kearse was confident in Trufant's ability to make the crucial play considering the number of fade routes thrown against him in practice.

"We run like 100 fades on Desmond in one-on-one's. He was definitely prepared for that moment," Kearse said. "And it helps. He got the look that we give him and he made a great play.'

Trufant's interception was his second forced turnover of the game. Trufant stripped Matt Johnson on a punt return in the first quarter the created a short field for the Huskies and led to Price's 7-yard TD pass to Jonathan Amosa.

In the third quarter, with Eastern trailing 20-13, a punt bounced and hit Evan Zeger in the helmet and Washington recovered the fumble. Price converted the turnover into a 6-yard TD pass to freshman Kasen Williams and a 27-13 Huskies lead.

Eastern, who rallied from a 19-0 deficit to beat Delaware in the national championship game in January, wasn't finished. Mitchell hit Greg Herd on a 43-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 27-20 and later found Nicholas Edwards with 3:55 left to pull the Eagles within three.

Edwards finished with 12 catches, while Kaufman routed the Huskies' secondary with 10 catches for 140 yards.

"We kept doing damage and we could have won that game," Kaufman said.