HALFTIME: Cougs gain late momentum

IT WAS A TALE of two quarters. After No. 15 Arizona completely dominated Washington State during the first quarter, the Cougars responded with 16 unanswered points to end the first half. Despite that, Washington State trailed 31-16 at halftime.

The Wildcats scored on their first two possessions. Davonte’ Neal danced away from at least four players en route to an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown. Arizona extended its lead to 10-0 with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter when Casey Skowron's 31-yard field goal capped a 13-play drive.

Arizona was just getting warmed up.

Anu Solomon, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 193 yards during the first half, led the Wildcats on a 10-play play drive that culminated with a 2-yard pass from Solomon to Neal and a 17-0 lead.

Seemingly desperate to generate positive momentum — the Cougars had just 70 yards of total offense during the first quarter — coach Mike Leach elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 at their own 34. But redshirt freshman running back Gerard Wicks was stuffed for no gain. That enabled Arizona to quickly extend their first-quarter lead to 24-0 when Solomon zipped a 21-yard touchdown pass to Nate Phillips.

Solomon threw his third touchdown pass of the first half when he converted on fourth-and-goal, a 3-yard completion to Cayleb Jones, to extend Arizona’s lead to 31-0 with 8:56 left before halftime.

Senior quarterback Connor Halliday, who completed 25 of 37 passes for 209 yards and two TDs during the first half, finally ended WSU’s scoring drought by throwing a tight ball into the hands of classmate Isiah Myers for a 37-yard touchdown.

After forcing a punt, Halliday then led the Cougars on a nine-play, 90-yard drive that ended when Myers caught an 18-yard touchdown pass.

Senior linebacker Cyrus Coen then recovered a Tyler Baker fumble on the kickoff return to give WSU possession at the Wildcats’ 17. But the Cougars could not pick up a first down and settled for a 40-yard field goal by Quentin Breshears.

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