Arizona Overcomes Rough Second Half

Ariona put up a lot of yards, but did not execute particularly well in their 31-12 win over NAU. The Cats racked up 442 yards of total offense but misfired too often in the red zone and was in a close game in the second half.

The Cats struck first taking the opening drive 80 yards, capping things with a Mike Bell run around the left end.

"(Mike) Bell is a quality player," said Head Coach Mike Stoops. "He averages about five yards a carry. We need to keep his momentum up and he will be good for us."

On three more occasions in the first quarter the Wildcats had the ball inside the NAU 30, but came away with just a field goal, a blocked field goal and an interception.

"The red zone was off tonight," Stoops said.

The Cats' next possession was more successful as Richard Kovalcheck hit Anthony Johnson over the shoulder for a pretty 25-yard score which brought the score to 17-0.

All told it was an up and down night for Kovalcheck. The sophomore was 19-31 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also had the pick and misfired on a few key plays.

The Cats actually scored once more before the half expired, but it would be their last score until late in the fourth quarter. Kovalcheck connected with Brad Wood in the corner of the endzone for a nine-yard score and the Cats had a commanding 24-3 lead.

Unfortunately the team came out and played poorly in the second half. NAU marched right down the field for their lone touchdown of the game. On the ensuing possession the Cats were forced to punt but the snap sailed over Danny Baugher's head. Baugher tracked down the lose ball and kicked it out of the endzone for a safety.

"NAU played a feisty game," explained Stoops. "The surely gave us a few things to worry about in the second half."

All told the Lumberjacks outgained the Wildcats 114-6 in the quarter, and also put nine points on the board, and the score was 24-12 at the end of the third.

The Cats tacked on their fourth touchdown late in the fourth. Using a variety of short passes and a nifty sneak on a third inches, where Kovalcheck got lost in the pile and then spurted out for a ten-yard gain, the Cats drove inside the NAU three. Gilbert Harris finished things off with a three-yard score giving the Cats a 19-point lead.

"It's just all about winning," Bell explained. "Gilbert (Harris) deserved to get that carry (for the fourth quarter touchdown). He runs so hard. He deserved it."

Mike Bell had a solid game on the ground gaining 122 yards on 24 carries.

"I have to thank my teammates," said Bell. "I'm surrounded by great players and a great staff that allows me to be successful."

The Cats were able to hold a late push by NAU late in the fourth and went on to win by a score of 31-12. Now the UA's focus switches over to Purdue.

"Next week is a different caliber of team and we can't afford these little mistakes that we made tonight," Stoops said. "Purdue is going to be a tough game. They are one of the Big-10 favorites, but I think we'll match up fine."

The Wildcats are looking forward to the game, and hope to come away with the win prior to facing California.

"It would be great to end next week 2-1 with a week off before Cal, but achieving that will be a chore," said Stoops.

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