The scenery in the desert sure was beautiful, but I can't say the same about the game. For most of the night, it seemed like neither team wanted to step up and grab victory. Wildcat RB Mike Bell decided to do just that, as the Dawgs went down while missing too many opportunities and giving up too many big plays.

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  • Rushing yards:

    Total yds Yds/game Yds/carry
    2002 968 74.5 2.1
    2003 ytd 1322 132.2 3.40

    Kenny James looked great running the ball tonight, picking up 5-6 yards while finding any little crease in the defense. He had 62 yards at the half, but the running game was slowed after halftime, as those little creases disappeared in a hurry. James finished the game with 77 yards, and had zero in the final quarter.

    Shelton Sampson had 23 yards on 9 carries, but managed a touchdown. On a tough third and two play, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Sampson was met in the backfield by Marcus Smith for a two-yard loss. The team finished with a net 101 yards on the night.

    Third-Down Conversions Given Up:

    2002: Opponents converted 40% of their third-down attempts.
    2003: Opponents have converted 36.7% of their third-down attempts.

    On third and long (6 or more yards), the number of big plays given up are:

    10-19 yds 20-29 yds 30-39 yds 40-49 yds 50+ yds
    2002 19 13 1 2 0
    2003 ytd 16 8 2 0 3

    Overall, the Husky defense played good on third down, giving up only 31.25% conversion rate. But the numbers are very deceiving because when the Cats picked up a first down, they picked it up in a big way.

    The first third-and-long of the game was on Arizona's second drive. On third and 10 from their own 17, Zona passed for exactly 10 yards. Two plays later, Mike Bell took it 67 yards to the house, making it 7-6 Dawgs. That was the longest run given up by the defense this season.

    Third and long saw another biggie – in the third quarter, WR Ricky Williams hauled in a 52 yarder in front of Sam Cunningham and Evan Benjamin.
    Turnover Margin:

    2002 total: +1
    2003 to date: –3 (-1 today)

    Derrick Johnson broke in front of WR Ricky Williams to make a great pick with 0:37 left in the first quarter. The Dawgs got the ball on the UA 22 yard line and six plays later, Shelton "all he does is score touchdowns" Sampson ran it in from a yard out to put the Dawgs ahead 14-6.

    Charles Frederick, after making a first-down catch at the UA 25, was stripped of the ball by Gary Love and the Wildcats got the ball way back at midfield. The Dawgs were driving down trying to score before the half. Instead, the Wildcats, fueled by a 33-yard pass play, punched it in the endzone to close within one point at the break.

    Down by four points with 5:37 left in the fourth quarter, Cody Pickett scrambled up the middle and was stripped of the ball while trying to stretch forward for first-down yardage. Michael Jolivette recovered the rock at the UA 48 and Mike Bell ran for a 37-yard TD and the Cats went up by 11.

    Jordan Slye got his first start of his career and made his first career reception on the third play of the game. He also made two clutch catches in the final drive when the Huskies came up short. Brandon Ala got his first start on the end as the REB, but only had one tackle.

    Washington had racked up 134 yards before their first touchdown with 6:02 left in first quarter, but Huskies fans should be happy that 70 of those yards came on the ground. In fact, the 174 total yards in the first quarter was the highest output for the Dawgs all season. Their previous high for first-quarter yards was 115 against UCLA.

    It was good to see #25 making a play – James Sims rushed up the middle to block Danny Baugher's punt in the second quarter. But the effort was all for not, as Evan Knudson missed a 35-yard field goal wide left.

    For as productive as the first quarter was, by halftime the Dawgs had 250 yards, 14 points, and plenty of missed opportunities. After dominating the first quarter, the Huskies allowed the Cats to hang around in the game. RB Mike Bell had 99 yards at the half, and back-up QB Nic Costa came in and punished the defense with his scrambling. The one-win Wildcats went into halftime feeling pretty good about themselves.

    And they should have been.

    When was the last time the Huskies have had to punt from their opponent's 33-yard line? In this instance, leading 14-13 with just over 10:00 left in the ball game, you wondered what choice the coaches had. The plan worked to perfection. Garth Erickson lobbed up the punt and B.J. Newberry stood at the one-yard line to down the ball. Two plays later, the Dawgs had a safety after Evan Benjamin stuffed Mike Bell in the endzone. Whew, the breathing room was stretched to three points.

    But three points aren't enough when you can't put a 1-8 team away team on the road.

    Add one more body to the mash unit, as TE Ben Bandel separated his shoulder this evening.

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