However within the final minute of the Sugar Bowl, Penix walked to the sideline, disappearing in a crush of purple jerseys. No. 2 Washington’s protection was in the course of a sinister experiment, seeing how far it may bend with out breaking into 1,000,000 tiny items. No. 3 Texas pushed to the Washington 28 with 20 seconds left … to the 12 with 10 seconds left … the Superdome shaking at the opportunity of a last lead change. Penix watched Quinn Ewers, Texas’s quarterback, drop again whereas the clocks hit all zeros. Dylan Morris, Washington’s starter till Penix transferred in from Indiana earlier than final season, slid in subsequent to Penix, their complete season driving on one other participant’s throw.
Sugar Bowl highlights: Washington survives late scare to beat Texas
Now let’s again up a second. Video games are usually not determined solely by the top, regardless of how a lot the drama of endings could make it appear that approach. They’re determined when a quarterback goes 29 for 38 for 430 yards and two touchdowns. They’re determined within the first quarter, when that quarterback’s first move is a 77-yard achieve that results in a tone-setting rating. They’re determined within the second quarter, when that quarterback sprays completions on a nine-play landing drive. They’re determined within the third quarter, when the quarterback, tasked with in some way outdoing himself, steps up within the pocket and fires a laser, splitting two defenders to hit Jalen McMillan for one more landing.
Or perhaps video games are determined, a minimum of considerably, when the quarterback completes 12 passes in a row.
Large video games are sometimes determined by big-time gamers, one micro resolution at a time. In order it was, the Sugar Bowl — a 37-31 win for Washington over Texas after Ewers’s last move was knocked incomplete — was determined by Michael Penix Jr. And that nudged Washington to a matchup with No. 1 Michigan for the nationwide title on Monday.
“With a great protection like we have been dealing with in Texas, he needed to sort of resort to all of the instruments that he has and all of the ability units that make him particular and … in my thoughts, the perfect participant in school soccer,” Washington Coach Kalen DeBoer mentioned. “This man, actually all month, was on one other degree so far as his mission to ensure that this occurred.”
Don’t cease at 14-0 on the season, Washington’s final earlier than becoming a member of Michigan within the Large Ten later this yr. Since Penix and DeBoer teamed up, the Huskies are 25-2 and 10-0 towards ranked opponents. Penix, as soon as slowed by three straight year-ending knee surgical procedures, was a Heisman finalist final month and continues to be taking part in — nonetheless thriving — in January. On Sunday night time, earlier than the sport of his life, he requested his teammates to return quarter-hour early to a gathering so he may tackle them himself.
DeBoer didn’t know Penix’s plans. However the Huskies are used to following Penix, to watching every part he does and listening to every part he has to say.
“Man, I really feel like every part occurred for a purpose,” Penix mentioned after the win. “Popping out of highschool, I’m going to be sincere. … After I dedicated to Indiana College, my dad, he didn’t really need me to go there. He didn’t perceive why I used to be going there. In order that was one thing that was arduous for me, simply having any person that I really like essentially the most probably not … he didn’t see my imaginative and prescient. However clearly it led me to right here.”
“He’s our rock,” mentioned Morris, who spent most of Monday’s recreation with Penix, chatting when Penix wished to speak, giving him house when he appeared in a quieter temper. “Nothing with him surprises me anymore as a result of we see it every single day. The constructing may have been actually falling down tonight and he would have stayed calm.”
Michigan weathers Alabama to proceed a season that has weathered so much
In that last minute, after Penix left his seat on the bench, Morris stood on it and pumped the group for extra noise. However for the previous couple of performs, he stood by Penix, then advised him he beloved him when the sport was theirs. Whereas his teammates scrambled, buying and selling helmets for hats, pulling T-shirts over their jerseys and pads, Penix did an ESPN interview on the heart of the sphere. As soon as it was over, a public relations staffer steered him towards the stage, the place he was showered with confetti and awarded a trophy for the Sugar Bowl’s most excellent participant.
In some unspecified time in the future, the remaining followers belted Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Penix shouted into a number of random iPhones that have been shoved into his hand. On his technique to the stage, Troy Dannen, Washington’s athletic director since October, wrapped Penix in a bear hug. One Husky, speaking quietly to a different, referred to as the left-handed quarterback “that f—ing dude.”
“He was on the backside, he was on the prime,” mentioned Rome Odunze, Penix’s prime receiver. “And he was on the backside once more and now he’s on the prime, shining.”
After the ceremony, Penix had one factor in thoughts: household. Behind the Huskies’ bench, all of them wore his No. 9 jersey, leaping up and down as he approached. To succeed in them, he reduce by means of the group with out stopping, Euro-stepping previous one photographer and juking by the following. His kin and associates handed his trophy by means of the primary couple of rows. They posed for a bunch picture or 10. Quickly, Penix would transfer alongside the railing and provides each fan a high-five. When he’d see a younger boy, he would attain out his hand, inviting the child to tug off his white wristband and take it house.
However first, Penix thought of the way to get into the stands to hug his family members. He pressed his arms towards a folding desk, seeing if it may bear his weight ought to he use it as a trampoline. All collectively, his household yelled and held their arms up, telling him to not even give it some thought. Monday was not the top. Penix nonetheless has Michigan to beat.