As Wayne Taulapapa ran in untouched for the opening score a sense of relief reverberated throughout Husky Stadium.
Taulapapa, a graduate transfer from the University of Virginia, had an emotional week leading into Saturday’s home finale against Colorado having lost two former teammates – in a shooting on November 13.
“It was tough. Monday was probably one of the hardest days receiving the hardest news of my life,” Taulapapa said after the game.
Taulapapa recorded his second career 100 yard game – both as a Husky – with fellow running back adding 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead to the 54-7 victory over Colorado.
“It was amazing,” Taulapapa said of his 8-yard touchdown run to open the scoring Saturday night.
“I think a lot of relief, in terms of a lot of emotional things. I wanted to come out and not only represent myself but my family. Especially the families that suffered and obviously my brothers that went on. It was big.”
Taulapapa added his second touchdown of the game with a 2-yard run in the second quarter to extend UW’s lead to 21-0 with 10:33 left in the first half.
Before Kalen DeBoer began his postgame press conference the UW head coach shared a moment at the podium with Taulapapa where the two hugged and DeBoer said “love you man”.
With the victory over the Buffaloes the Huskies finished unbeaten at home for the first time since 2018.
“That was a good win for us,” DeBoer said. “We talked at halftime – we did what we were supposed to do in the first half. We did what we were supposed to do for the whole game. It starts with the seniors and the leadership and trying to get them to go out on top.
“They’ve done such an awesome job buying into everything and establishing a home field advantage again.”
UW held Colorado to its season low seven points, which matched the previous low set back in week three at Minnesota, a 49-7 result.
The Huskies (9-2, 6-2) fell one point shy of matching the season high 55-points that the Buffaloes allows to USC the previous week and did most of the damage on the ground.
As a team UW ran for 280 yards – the most CU has allowed this season and the most the Huskies have totaled in a game – and five touchdowns which matches the season high set back in week two against Portland State.
It’s the most rushing yards against a Pac-12 opponent since Washington racked up 328 yards in 2017 against Washington State at Husky Stadium.
Next Saturday UW finishes its regular season schedule in Pullman against the Cougars, which could feature another big rushing game for the Huskies.
“I heard that it snows out in Pullman and it’s a big rivalry,” Taulapapa said, when asked what he knows about the Apple Cup.