Browning completed 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards and two TDs. He added a career-high 50 yards on five carries.
Maybe Dante Pettis had his arm pinned by a Montana defender, which prevented the Washington Huskies’ receiver from going up and snaring a pass across the middle.
But Jake Browning’s throw into tight coverage sailed high before the ball was tipped, intercepted by strong safety Josh Sandry and returned 36 yards for a touchdown.
“They had pretty good coverage on Dante,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “And anytime you get a tipped ball, something bad is usually going to happen for the offense.”
The miscue knotted the score at 7-7 with 4:56 left in the first quarter and delayed No. 7 Washington’s inevitable 63-7 rout over lower-division Montana in front of 68,491 at Husky Stadium on Saturday.
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Before tossing his first interception of the season, Browning, the Pac-12’s reigning offensive player of the year, completed his first four passes for 82 yards.
And after the pick-six, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior resumed dissecting the Grizzlies’ secondary while connecting on his next seven throws against a four-man pass rush that struggled to mount any pressure.
“They were getting everyone deep and didn’t want to get beat deep, so we were just nickel and diming them all the way down field,” Browning said. “They were just trying to make us sustain drives and we did that.”
Browning threw for 208 yards on 15-of-17 passing and a touchdown in the first half. He directed just two drives in the third quarter, which resulted in a blocked 46-yard field-goal attempt and a 3-yard TD pass to tight end Will Dissly that extended UW’s lead to 42-7.
“Montana was not rushing many people, so we’re thinking, let’s just take what they give you and not force anything,” Browning said. “When we were watching film, they were more aggressive against other teams and against us they just played soft.
“So we took the easy completions. Get the receivers the ball in space and let them make some people miss and get up the field.”
Browning completed 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns before backup K.J. Carta-Samuels took over in the fourth.
“We were getting some decent coverage, but we couldn’t get any pressure on their quarterback,” Montana coach Bob Stitt said. “He did a nice job; he stood back there too long.