Arizona loses mistake-filled heartbreaker

Arizona found another way to lose. With victory in its grasp, Gilbert Harris fumbled the football in a situation where the UA was attempting to run out the clock, and Washington State scored in the final minute for the 20-19 victory.

It was a mild mistake-filled game at Arizona Stadium, and the game's last mistake was the biggest. The UA appeared to have the game won, but with just over a minute left, a Gilbert Harris fumble gave Washington State a final opportunity that it converted as it escaped its own miscues for the one-point win.

If Washington State had problems on offense, it didn't show early. On its second possession, WSU marched 80 yards in 12 plays and overcame a pair of critical penalties to score the game's first touchdown with 8:14 left in the first quarter.

On its heels early in the second quarter, Arizona got a break when Cougar quarterback Josh Swogger botched the snap. Sean Jones recovered the fumble deep in Wildcat territory to help the UA remain just one score behind.

It took over a quarter for the UA Arizona's first first down looked like it might have been a botched play, but quarterback Kris Heavner was heads-up and got enough yardage to keep the drive alive. Biren Ealy fumbled the ball on the next play, his first catch of the game, but WSU squandered another opportunity with a turnover of its own.

Arizona made the Cougars pay when Heavner lived up to his namesake and heaved a pass downfield to Syndric Steptoe, who at 5-9 leaped over the Washington State defender to make the grab for the 47-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 12:28 to go in the half.

Arizona got another break on the ensuing possession. Swogger completed a pass over the middle, but the Lamon Means stripped the ball and the UA recovered at its own seven, thwarting another potential Cougar scoring drive.

After holding, Washington State took over at the Wildcat 34, but the defense toughened, and Wazzu botched yet another snap from the shotgun, forcing a punt.

Washington State had the ball as deep as the UA 35 again, but couldn't convert on third and three and fourth and one, and that was the last drive of significance in the half. WSU outgained the UA 192 to 89 in total yards in the first half, but committed three turnovers and seven penalties in the game's first 30 minutes.

Arizona came out fired up in the second half, with a series of successful runs to the left. The 16-play drive stalled at the Washington State six, where Nick Folk converted a chip shot field goal.

Washington State's first play from scrimmage was a disaster. Jerome Harrison fumbled on a sweep and Arizona took over at the 12.

The drive went nowhere, but Folk converted a knuckle ball field goal that barely crossed the upright. The UA upped its lead to 13-7.

Washington State converted a fourth and one in UA territory, but Arizona held from there and a 49-yard field goal went wide right.

After the Cougar defense held, Washington State struck quick. Swogger converted a 25-yard reception on the drive's first play and then found Jason Hill for 45 yards and a touchdown for the one-point WSU advantage with 13:22 to go.

Arizona took the lead with 3:52 left on the arm of Heavner, who connected with Ricky Williams on a 30-yard play to get the UA into field goal range, and hit Steptoe twice on big plays, one on third and short, where Steptoe made a spectacular one-handed grab, and the touchdown strike on third down, but Arizona came up short on the two-point conversion attempt.

WSU got a break on the kickoff when it recovered a fumble, but couldn't do anything on offense. Arizona got the first down it needed, but instead of kneeling and running out the clock, Gilbert Harris coughed up the ball with 1:19 left.

Washington State capitzlized as Swogger hit Hill from 15 yards for the winning score with 53 seconds remaining.

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