The Arizona Wildcats long ago swore to abide by Rich Rodriguez’s “24-hour rule”, a dictum that states that every win — and every loss — be forgotten within the span of a day.
Just this once, maybe the UA can allow itself to indulge. Why not two days to celebrate, or one hour for each point it scored?
Arizona put together its most complete game in two seasons tonight, pummeling Washington 52-17 in front of 50,148 at Arizona Stadium.
The Wildcats bludgeoned the Huskies, one run at a time. And when the visitors’ undersized, exhausted defense sold out to stop the run, quarterback Matt Scott threw over the top for scores.
The first Pac-12 victory of coach Rich Rodriguez’s career was as easy at it was unexpected. The UA posted 533 yards of total offense while calling more than twice as many rushing plays (49) as passes (22). Ka’Deem Carey led the charge, rushing 29 times for 172 yards and one touchdown. The Wildcats averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
The run-first, throw-later approach marked a change in philosophy. Arizona entered the game with more pass attempts (307) than runs (238) this season. The Wildcats attempted nearly three times as many passes (69) as runs (34) in a loss to Stanford two weeks ago.
The Huskies (3-4, 1-3) offered little resistance. The Pac-12 Conference’s worst run defense looked it against the Wildcats’ spread-option offense.
And the visitors’ momentum-shifting plays were too few — and too futile — to remember, or really matter.
UW’s Travis Feeney intercepted Scott as the UA drove late in the first half, returning the pick all the way to the Wildcats’ 3. Bishop Sankey then dove in a 1-yard score with 13 seconds remaining, cutting Arizona’s lead to 14 points.
Arizona received to start the second half, and Carey fumbled on the team’s first play from scrimmage. The Huskies recovered in Wildcats territory with a chance to make it a one-score game.
But Keith Price let the football — and any chance of a comeback — slip through his fingers. Washington’s quarterback fumbled the ball away while evading a UA rush, and the Wildcats recovered. Six plays later, Arizona’s Austin Hill caught his second touchdown pass of the night. The Wildcats’ defense made a stop on Washington’s next possession, and star-crossed kick returner Richard Morrison returned the Huskies’ punt 63 yards for a score.
Like that, the Wildcats led 45-17 — and Washington was cooked.
Price’s performance was uneven — and, frankly, odd. In a win-or-else game, the Huskies’ junior quarterback completed 29 of 52 for just 256. He was intercepted twice and sacked four times by an injury-thinned UA front.
Scott outplayed him, completing 14 of 22 passes for 256 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He also ran for a score.
The blowout win began with a rare hot start.
David Richards caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Matt Scott and John Bonano nailed a 28-yard field goal, giving the UA a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The hot start was critical for Arizona, which entered Saturday’s game having been outscored 35-20 in the first quarter so far this season. The Wildcats’ first three Pac-12 opponents — Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford — held the UA scoreless in the first quarters.
The Huskies’ defense has made a handful of mistakes, none bigger than a personal foul penalty as Arizona drove toward the end of the quarter. Scott found Dan Buckner for a 43-yard pass, moving deep into Huskies territory. Washington was called for roughing Scott after the play, and the UA moved to UW’s 11. The UA settled for a field goal after Scott was unable to find receivers on second and third downs.