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Party at Husky Stadium: UW players danced through a delay as the lights went out


As the wind picked up and darkness descended on Husky Stadium on Friday, the Washington Huskies football team came alive.

With 11:36 left in UW’s eventual 24-21 victory over No. 23 Oregon State, the lights went out. At first, the sudden darkness appeared to mark a four-yard touchdown run by Huskies running back Wayne Taulapapa that capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive.

The lights went out and stayed that way for an awkward long time, including during Peyton Henry’s PAT. After a few minutes of confusion, referee Michael Mottershead announced to the crowd that the game had been delayed due to a light problem.

During the 25-minute halftime, UW football players did their best to stay warm amid the strong wind blowing off Lake Washington and stay loose when play did resume. The crowd, meanwhile, was trying to warm up by singing along to the music blaring from the stadium’s speakers.

As soon as Miley Cyrus’ 2009 mega-hit “Party in the USA” came on, wide receiver Rim Odunze knew what to do.

“I danced, man,” Odunze said. “I was dancing, trying to keep warm, trying to save my legs and all that. They put it on (Miley Cyrus) and I know the lyrics to that thing. I sang along with the crowd. The party in the US, and that’s what we wanted, the after-game party. So hopefully I’ve implemented it.”

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. also appreciated Miley Cyrus’ musical style, but he had a different approach to staying warm during the delay.

“Hannah Montana (Cyrus) was going crazy, the whole crowd was going crazy for it, but no, I was sitting on the heater. “I was cold,” Penix said. “When the light went out, then the wind started. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but it was crazy. At that time it became cold. Maybe because I was sitting a lot, but I was sitting on the heater.”

The wind picked up almost immediately after play resumed in the fourth quarter, reaching 13 mph. Head coach Cullen DeBoer acknowledged that the wind may have affected a few of Penix’s passes along with UW’s kicking game, but his quarterback refused to blame the high wind for the errant throws.

Penix finished the game with 30 passes on 52 attempts, with one touchdown, one interception and a 108.3 passer rating.

“I’m not making excuses,” Penix said. “If I don’t make the shot, that’s on me. I have to fix it, I have to feel the wind and throw it in the right direction so the wind can take it where I want it to go. Man, that was a great game. The boys played when they had to. It was a big win, and a hard win.”

For DeBoer, this wasn’t the first time he’s been involved in a power outage at a football game, and it’s definitely not the worst weather he’s ever seen. Back in the days of his game University of Sioux Fallsduring USF’s game against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, a storm in Rapid City dumped 14 inches of snow and knocked out power in the locker room.

DeBoer saw it again in 2018 as Fresno State’s offensive coordinator, when a blown switch caused a 30-minute delay in the Bulldogs’ game against Hawaii.

With the power cut immediately after his team equalized, DeBoer’s main challenge was to focus on what they had been doing successfully in the second half. Momentum is hard to build and even harder to maintain.

“The biggest thing I’ve probably tried to talk to the guys about is how hard they fought to make it 21-21 and we just got the momentum going and just to get their minds back on how they felt.. . [to] leave him on the field for the last 11 or 12 minutes, and they did it.”

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