Penix throws 4 TD passes, Washington rolls Kent State 45-20

Penix completed 26 of 39 passes and his yards were the third most in his career

SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Penix Jr. threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns, and Washington opened up the Kalen DeBoer era with a 45-20 win over Kent State in a season opener Saturday night.

DeBoer’s debut as Washington’s head coach was highlighted by a fun, innovative offense that Penix – who also made his Huskies’ debut – executed cleanly against the overwhelmed Golden Flashes. Penix led Washington in scoring drives on all five possessions in the first half and touchdowns on the first four as the Huskies built a 31-13 half lead and crossed in the first set.

Only a little shaky ball security prevented the first half from becoming even more one-sided.

It was a needed debut for DeBoer, who took over after two seasons as the head coach at Fresno State in Washington. Washington’s fan base was soured by last season’s 4-8 record and ended with the firing of coach Jimmy Lake in November and ended with Washington State celebrating a stunning Apple Cup victory.

But whether the Huskies are as good as they showed against the Golden Flashes won’t really be known for a couple of weeks, when state No. 15 Michigan visits on Sept. 17.

Penix completed 26 of 39 passes and his yards were the third most in his career, which began in Indiana before moving to Washington. It was his second game with four or more touchdown passes.

Penix threw TDs of 32 yards on Taj Davis and 4 yards on Rome Odunze in the first half and touchdown throws of 13 and 10 yards on Jalen McMillian in the second half. Washington scored on his first six possessions before finally scoring late in the third quarter.

Wayne Taulapapa hit on a 28-yard run for Washington’s first touchdown and Cameron Davis added a 1-yard TD slump. Washington’s 21 points in the first quarter and 31 points in the first half were the highest in a quarter or half since a 2019 win in Arizona, where the Huskies had 38 second-half points, including 24 in the fourth quarter.

Kent State quarterback Collin Schlee intercepted his first pass of the season from Asa Turner. Schlee rallied later in the first quarter with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Devontez Walker, but the Golden Flashes couldn’t stop defensively to stay in the game.

Schlee finished 12 of 24 for 178 yards with two interceptions. Marquez Cooper, who had a 1,200-yard season under his belt, was held for 36 yards with 11 carries.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes couldn’t play as fast as they have in the past. Kent State averaged more than 75 games per game last season but only managed 68 offensive games against the Huskies.

Washington: The Huskies got off to a significantly better start than last season, when they lost to FCS powerhouse Montana earlier in the season. Washington totaled just 291 yards in that loss; It had 317 in the first half against Kent State and finished with 535.

There aren’t many connections between Kent State and Washington, but two of them were in attendance Saturday night. Mike Lude was athletic director at Kent State from 1970 to 1976 before moving to Washington and holding that position until 1991. Lude was in attendance along with Carol James, wife of former Kent State and Washington coach Don James. James coached at Kent State from 1971 to 1974 before taking over at Washington in 1975.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes continue their challenging start to the season next Saturday at No. 9 in Oklahoma.

Washington: The Huskies host Portland State next Saturday. Penix throws 4 TD passes, Washington rolls Kent State 45-20

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