Arizona came away with an impressive win over Washington on Saturday night. Read on for a closer look at what Arizona was able to do in order to win.
Rich Rodriguez came to Arizona knowing that it would be a struggle in his first season. Until Saturday night, he had never won more than three games in his first season at a new school. That changed with the 52-17 victory over Washington. It gives Rodriguez and his Wildcats a 4-3 record with five games left in the season.
"There's a lot more that we have to accomplish here," Rodriguez said. "This was a nice win and we're going to enjoy it, but I'll tell you that there's a whole lot of stuff we need to work on and get better at. Since day one, I think the administration, the fan base, the players and the coaches have bought in.
"There will be a lot more bumps in the road, but it's good when the momentum is all pulling with you, even when you lose. We know that because we've had some ugly moments, but it's been a big key for us."
Arizona showed no signs of trouble on the first drive of the night, scoring quickly after falling behind 3-0. Washington opened the game with a field goal, but the Wildcats struck back with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, highlighted by five Ka'Deem Carey runs for a combined 39 yards.
Carey finished with a game-high 172 yards and 2 touchdowns on 29 carries. His two scores make it 11 total rushing touchdowns this season and ties him for fourth with Trung Candidate for rushing touchdowns in a single season.
"I felt we always had a running game," Carey said. "We go out there and Matt (Scott) makes the right reads and that means the holes are open and I just get through them.
"Ka'Deem is really talented and he runs hungry," Rodriguez said of Carey. "He really makes guys tackle. Washington hit him pretty good, but he kept going. He only needs a little crease and he breaks a lot of tackles."
John Bonano continued his recent success kicking the ball. He was 1 for 1 kicking field goals on the night and a perfect 7 for 7 kicking extra points.
Tra'Mayne Bondurant intercepted a Keith Price pass in the second quarter of the game and returned it 43 yards, giving Arizona a short field. It later set up a short field for the Wildcats, who scored easily on a Matt Scott one-yard touchdown run.
It was Bondurant's first interception this season and makes it four out of Arizona's seven games that the Wildcats have intercepted an opposing quarterback.
In the middle of the third quarter, Arizona free safety Jourdon Grandon was called for a targeting penalty on Austin Sefarian-Jenkins along with a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct on the same play. Those two penalties gave Washington thirty free yards and put it in prime field position to score and close the gap. Instead, Grandon snagged a tipped pass and returned it to the Arizona 29-yard line.
"With the personal fouls, I just got excited and caught up in the moment," Grandon said. "It'll never happen again. After that, I knew I couldn't let them score on that drive. On the pick, it just fell into my lap, so I made up for my mistakes."
Late in the first half, Matt Scott threw an interception to Travis Feeney, who returned it to the Arizona 3-yard line. The Huskies scored three plays later and cut the halftime lead to 31-17 in favor of the Wildcats. It was Scott's fourth consecutive game with an interception.
Austin Hill caught a pass in the middle of the field and threw a nasty stiff arm to the Husky defender and dove into the end zone. It was Hill's second touchdown of the night and it was also his third consecutive with at least 2 touchdown receptions.
So far this season, Hill has seven touchdown catches. The Arizona record for touchdown catches in a season is 11, currently held by Juron Criner.
"I haven't stiff-armed anyone since high school," Hill said. "I was really looking at the end zone when I did it. I didn't want to give Ka'Deem a touchdown if I got tackled at the three yard line. I guess it was just natural reaction."
Early in the third quarter, Richard Morrison took a punt at the Arizona 37-yard line and juked a few defenders and raced to the end zone. It was Morrison's longest return of the season and Arizona's first punt returned to the end zone since Bug Wright did it in 2009.
"I think Richard (Morrison's) return was really the backbreaker for Washington," Rodriguez said. "He's bobbled a couple balls, but he's always had confidence. We haven't even come close to breaking one, in the game or in practice.
"There's a little bit of luck involved. It was a short kick away from where he was supposed to kick it and we got a couple of good blocks. Next thing you know, he was in the end zone."
Arizona's defensive line racked up four sacks on the night. It was the highest total for the Wildcats in the past two years. Reggie Gilbert highlighted the night for Arizona with a sack and a half.
"We got four sacks, which was really good, but we missed a couple," Rodriguez said. "We told our guys to work a little bit harder and see if they might be able to draw some holding penalties and they did that. When we get pressure on the quarterback, our guys don't have to cover as long.
"We did miss (Keith Price) a couple times, but he threw the ball away a few times, so that was good. We don't have a dominant pass-rusher, so we have to get creative with how we get pressure and our staff was able to do that."