Three former University of Washington quarterbacks on Saturday afternoon enjoyed varying degrees of success and playing time in three extra-close college football games that involved conference contenders.
Ethan Garbers was thrust into action as a last-minute injury replacement by UCLA and was heroic before making a game-ending mistake in a 3-point loss to Oregon.
Jake Haener, always cool under fire, led Fresno State to a 2-point victory over Nevada.
For the third consecutive weekend, Jacob Sirmon didn't stir from the bench for Central Michigan, which lost by 1 to Northern Illinois.
Garbers, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman who transferred from the UW last December, went in for injured starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson with 1:23 left to play and the UCLA trailing 34-31 at the Rose Bowl.
On second-and-20 from the Bruins 39, he completed his first pass to Kam Brown for 12 yards.
He missed on the next one.
On fourth-and-8, Garbers got everyone excited when he drilled a 10-yard pass to Kyle Phillips to keep the late drive going.
Following another incompletion, however, he threw an interception to Oregon cornerback DJ James on the Ducks 30, ending UCLA's comeback efforts with 48 seconds remaining.
Yet the Bruins (5-3 overall, 3-2 Pac-12) like what they see in Garbers, who was 2-for-5 passing for 22 yards against the Ducks (6-1, 3-1) in his first meaningful college snaps. Normally, he just holds on kicks.
“We’re very high on Ethan; he's an unbelievable competitor and he’s got all the qualities that you want in a quarterback," Bruins coach Chip Kelly said of his backup. "But the one thing he lacks, and it’s not his fault, is just experience. He has not played a ton of snaps because we have a really good one ahead of him. So, it is not a knock on Ethan. But Dorian has been in the trenches as our QB one. If we have to play Ethan, then we will be excited about what we can do. I think that he is a really good football player.”
Some 220 miles away in Fresno, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Haener directed his Bulldogs to a 34-32 win over Nevada.
Haener, who left the UW in the fall of 2019, completed 26 of 38 passes for 256 yards and 2 scores for the Bulldogs (6-2 overall, 3-1 Mountain West), who won a conference showdown with the Wolf Pack (5-2, 2-1).
A junior in eligibility, Haener is having a sensational season as a passer, completing 205 of 302 attempts for 2,582 yards and 22 touchdowns, with 6 interceptions.
In Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Sirmon was just a spectator as Central Michigan lost 39-38 to Northern Illinois. He's sat out the past three games after starting the first four and playing as a reserve in a fifth outing.
Sirmon, who transferred from the UW in the offseason, watched as three teammates, quarterback Daniel Richardson, running back Lew Nichols III and wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton each completed passes for the innovative Chippewas (4-4 overall, 2-2 MAC) against another set of Huskies (6-2, 4-0).
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