Shavies, D cool down Zona's desert heat

TUCSON --- <b>Fred Shavies</b> was there in the dark days. Back when they managed to lose 12-straight games between September 1998 and September 1999. Back when the Cougars couldn't buy a break. Back when <b>Bobby Wade</b>, in that 12th setback, should have earned an Oscar for "catching" a Hail Mary as time expired to give Arizona a 30-24 victory.

In those days, nobody ever seemed to be in the right place at the right time. When that one play was needed to get over the hump, it just never came.

So when under-manned Arizona took a 10-5 lead into halftime of Saturday night's nationally televised game with No. 9 Washington State --- a game the Cougars eventually pulled out, 21-13 --- you couldn't help but flash to those dog days.

Little, you see, was going right for Ol' Wazzu --- fumbles, errant kicks, bad timing and one painful exercise in arm-tackling that allowed the very same Bobby Wade to hit paydirt with 57 seconds left before intermission.

You had to wonder if the Cougars, thought to be rested and ready with two weeks to prepare for this one, were fated to redefine the term bye week. As in bye-bye Rose Bowl chances.

And it only got worse.

There was Arizona's 19 play, 61-yard drive that ate up more than six third-quarter minutes by the time Bobby Gill capped it off with a 42-yard field goal. The trey was made possible solely because of Cougar miscues. Twice WSU committed drive-resuscitating penalties, both on Wildcat punts --- one for roughing the punter, the other for holding.

Sure, the Cougars subsequently took a one-point lead, marching 67 yards on 10 plays with Gesser and Devard Darling connecting on a 16-yard scoring aerial. But the crimson bloom faded when the Cougars went for two via a pitch out to Jerome Riley. By most accounts, Riley looked to have crossed the goal, but the officials said no.

Oh my. A positive turned negative. This was really starting to feel a lot like 1999.

You could almost hear the demons of years past whispering in your ear: "Zona's going to kick a field goal and win by two. You know they are."

And then there was WSU's drive that stalled at the Arizona 19. Rather than kick a field goal, which if made would have put the Cougs up by four, the Pumas opted to go for it on fourth and short. They didn't make it. Jason Gesser tried to pass and was ruled in-the-grasp 17 yards back just as he let loose with a ball that wound up in enemy hands anyway.

At that point, with the hometown crowd getting juiced, the momentum in this one was decidedly on Arizona's side.

A season's worth of badinage was being crammed into one lousy game. Shoot, John Mackovic, in the midst of an oh-for-October stretch since coming to Tucson, managed to flash his pearly whites for the first time since Clarence Farmer blew his knee against North Texas.

And then along came Fred Shavies. He was just a kid in '98 and '99. Nowadays he's a fifth-year senior with 32 career starts on his 6-foot-2, 261-pound frame.

Nowadays he's the type of playmaker who separates the No. 7 team in the BCS rankings from the wannabes. He looks adversity in the face and goes about his business, confident that skill, preparation and experience will carry the day for his beloved Cougars.

And sure enough, when pass-happy Arizona QB Jason Johnson dropped back in search of the ubiquitous Wade with nine minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock, WSU's fleet-footed defensive end from Oakland swooped in from the strongside. Johnson went topsy-turvy and the ball went squirting out. Fellow defensive end Issac Brown recovered and suddenly Planet Coug seemed safe --- and sane --- once again.

First down Cougars at the Arizona 32.

Moments later, Jermaine Green powered his way 18 yards to paydirt through a pile of bodies to put the Cougs up 21-13. In all, Green rumbled for 119 yards on 29 carries in what was his impressive first start as a Cougar.

But the day truly belonged to Bill Doba's gladiators on defense.

Shavies, like Rien Long, Marcus Trufant, Pat Bennett, Jason David and the rest of the stop corps came up big for the Cougars all day long. He had two of WSU's seven sacks and pressured Johnson countless other times. And in the first quarter, when Brown separated Johnson from the ball, Shavies and Virgil Williams narrowly missed out on a TD but the ball went out of bounds the Cougs scored a safety istead.

Interviewed after the game about the heavily-favored Cougars' closer-than-expected battle, Shavies was matter-of-fact. Basically, he said, the Cougar D just stuck to the script.

Pounding, attacking, bending but not breaking. And definitely not getting worried about the outcome.

The Cougars are 7-1 overall and tied with Arizona State atop the Pac-10 with a 4-0 conference mark because the defense saved the day in Tucson, giving up just 207 total yards.

The Wildcats were victimized to the tune of seven sacks, four turnovers and a woeful six of 17 on third down conversion attempts. Most startling, their ground attack -- while nothing to write home about -- ended up with a net of minus 17 yards.

"I'm very proud to be the coach of this team," Mike Price said afterward, noting that there was no quit in his club on this frustrating night.

But then again, what else would you expect from a team led by veterans who have toiled so hard, so long to make sure those dogs days of 1998 and '99 become long distant memories.

GESSER MOVES UP

With 275 air yards against Arizona, Gesser moved by Ryan Leaf and is now just 228 yards behind Jack Thompson and the WSU career passing mark of 7,818 yards. The Hurlin' Hawaiian's 36-yard connection with Jerome Riley to open the second half moved him past Thompson as WSU's leader in career total offense.

UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DAY

"I think we were rusty offensively," said Mike Price.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"As victories go, it was hardly a Rembrandt, but the Cougars will take it," said the Seattle Times' Craig Smith.

MONTANA HANDS

After Arizona went up 13-8, WSU walk-on linebacker Doc Farley, the Pride of Hamilton, Montana, may have turned the tide of the game when he recovered teammate Devard Darling's fumble on the ensuing kickoff.

OFFENSE BY THE NUMBERS

As sluggish as the Cougar offense was in Tucson, the numbers were actually pretty sweet. WSU had a 24-14 advantage over the Wildcats in first downs, an 81-67 lead in offensive snaps, and 424 net yards versus 207.

NEXT UP

The game of the year in the Pac-10 when Arizona State comes to Pullman next Saturday for a regionally televised contest. Kickoff is at 12:30. The Sun Devils are 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference after pounding Washington 27-16 today.

BCS STANDINGS

The Cougars won't be moving up in the BCS ratings this week because all five teams directly above them won on Saturday and No. 1 Oklahoma was idle.

BOWL BOUND

With seven wins, the Cougars are guaranteed a bowl invitation of some kind regardless if what happens the rest of the way. This will mark the first time the Cougars have gone to bowls in back to back seasons.

SCORING SUMMARY

FIRST QUARTER
WSU: Safety

SECOND QUARTER
Arizona: Gill 47-yard field goal
WSU: Dunning 22-yard field goal
Arizona: Wade 27-yard pass from Johnson (Gill kick)

THIRD QUARTER
WSU: Dunning 36-yard field goal
Arizona: Gill 42-yard field goal
WSU: Darling 16-yard pass from Gesser (Riley run failed)

FOURTH QUARTER
WSU: Green 18-yard run (Dunning kick)

x

PASSING

WASHINGTON STATE

CMP

ATT

YDS

TD

INT

Jason Gesser

20 36 275 1 1

ARIZONA

CMP

ATT

YDS

TD

INT

Jason Johnson

22 46 224 1 2

x

RUSHING

WASHINGTON STATE

ATT

YDS

TD

Jermaine Green

29

119

1

John Tippins

9

31

0

Jonathan Smith

1

18

0

Jason Gesser

4

4

0

Jerome Riley

1

-1

0

Collin Henderson

1

-13

0

ARIZONA

ATT

YDS

TD

Mike Bell

7

25

0

Beau Carr

5

24

0

Andrae Thurman

1

-3

0

Jason Johnson

8

-63

0

x

RECEIVING

WASHINGTON STATE

REC

YDS

TD

Mike Bush

4

57

0

Troy Bienemann

3

66

0

Jerome Riley

3

64

0

Devard Darling

3

29

1

Scott Lunde

3

24

0

Jermaine Green

2

23

0

John Tippins

2

12

0

ARIZONA

REC

YDS

TD

Bobby Wade

9

83

1

Andrae Thurman

7

89

0

Lance Relford

2

16

0

Steve Fleming

1

15

0

Mike Bell

1

8

0

Justin Levasseur

1

8

0

Joseph Willrodt

1

5

0

x

TACKLES (Leaders only)

WASHINGTON STATE

Solo

Asst

Total

Erik Coleman

4

2

6

Marcus Trufant

4

1

5

Pat Bennett

4

1

5

Jeremey Williams

3

1

4

Fred Shavies

3

1

4

Mawuli Davis

2

2

4

ARIZONA

Solo

Asst

Total

Lance Briggs

10

4

14

Clay Hardt

4

5

9

Lamon Means

6

1

7

Joe Siofele

2

5

7

x

INTERCEPTIONS

WASHINGTON STATE

INT

YDS

Jason David

1

0

Pat Bennett

1

0

ARIZONA

INT

YDS

Clay Hardt

1

20

x

PUNTING

WASHINGTON STATE

PUNTS

YDS

LONG

Kyle Basler

3

120

50

ARIZONA

PUNTS

YDS

LONG

Danny Baugher

4

143

38

James Molina

1

52

52

x

KICK RETURNS

WASHINGTON STATE

PUNTS

YDS

LONG

Erik Coleman

2

26

19

Devard Darling

1

30

30

Jerome Riley

1

16

16

ARIZONA

PUNTS

YDS

LONG

Bobby Wade

3

62

34


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