Pickett wills Washington to victory over Arizona

Cody Pickett completed 29 of 49 passes for a school record 455 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his three yard scamper into the endzone with 0:13 remaining in the game to lead the Washington Huskies to an incredible 31-28 victory in Husky Stadium tonight.

Pickett had touchdown passes of 21 yards to Todd Elstrom, 78 yards to Paul Arnold, and 75 yards to Patrick Reddick, all in the first quarter.

Arizona had taken their first lead of the game with 5:18 remaining in the game when Clarence Farmer ran 16 yards through the middle of the Husky defense for a touchdown to make the score 28-21 Wildcats. Farmer would finish the day with 147 yards on 21 carries.

After Rick Neuheisel had been elusive all week about who would start at quarterback, Cody Pickett was told this morning that he would be the starter.

He quickly answered questions about his shoulder by rifling a 16-yard dart to Reggie Williams on the very first play. He followed that up with a 14-yard out that hit Williams right in the numbers. Both throws were made with great velocity.

Later in the drive on third and six Pickett his Arnold across the middle who dragged two defenders to pick up the first down. When Pickett was stopped short on third and one at the UA 30-yard line, Neuheisel didn't hesitate to keep his offense on the field. Hurst ran behind Todd Bachert and picked up three yards to pick up the first down. One play later Pickett looked to his left to freeze the safeties and then threw back to the center of the field to Todd Elstrom for a 21-yard touchdown.

Arizona answered right back. A personal foul penalty set the Wildcats up on their own 40 yard line. Tailback Leo Mills raced 20 yards through the Husky middle to move the ball into Husky territory. A Zach Tuiasosopo sack slowed the Wildcat progress, but Quarterback Jason Johnson found Bobby Wade open near the Husky 8-yard line to convert a key third down. On third and goal from the Husky four Johnson hit Wade on a slant in front of Omare Lowe to tie the game.

Washington answered in one play. Pickett rolled to his left to buy time and wait for junior Paul Arnold to come free across the middle. The speedy Arnold ran away from safety Jarvie Worcester and ran across the field so Pickett could spot him. Pickett saw him and delivered a spiral that Arnold gathered in about the 45 yard line and then turned up field and completed the 78-yard touchdown to put Washington ahead 14-7.

Arizona once again was aided by a personal foul penalty on their next drive and used the yardage to move down the field and tie the game. On third down from Husky 12-yard line, Johnson stood in against a Ben Mahdavi and Wondame Davis blitz, took the shot but floated a perfect strike Andrae Thurman who beat Lowe to the sideline and gathered it over his left shoulder to tie the game.

Just when it appeared that a punter would finally make an appearance into the game, Pickett dropped back on third and long and found Pat Reddick behind the Arizona secondary. Cody launched a perfect throw that the senior from Newbury Park, California took in and beat safety Clay Hardt to the endzone to complete the 75-yard touchdown score.

Three Husky possessions, three Husky touchdowns. It was a wild beginning.

The second quarter the defenses finally got off the busses and suited up. There were no points scored in the second 15 minutes as Washington held a 326-271 yard advantage going into halftime. 290 of Washington's yards came through the air.

Arizona received a gift from Washington's punt return to draw even in the third quarter. Charles Frederick cleanly fielded Ramey Peru's punt but when he went to turn upfield Matthias Wilson slammed into him and knocked the ball loose. Arizona recovered on the Husky 15-yard line. One play later reserve Wildcat quarterback John Rattay avoided the Husky pass rush and down the south sideline. He stretched the ball over the pylon just as he was hit, good for the touchdown.

Rattay had entered the game in the second quarter when starter Jason Johnson went to the locker room with a concussion.

Washington used freshman punter Sean McLaughlin's leg to win to create some field position. McLaughlin pinned the Wildcats back on their own 1-yard line with a picture-perfect 44-yard punt. Arizona was unable to move and Peru was summoned to punt it out of his own endzone. However Charles Frederick was unable to field the kick and it bounced at midfield and rolled another 32 yards before being downed all the way back to the Husky 28-yard line.

Washington looked great on their next drive. Elstrom caught a 12-yard slant, his fifth reception of the game to that point. Washington stayed with their air attack, hitting Williams for six and Arnold for 10 more. Wilbur Hooks made a nice reception for 15 more yards and the Huskies were in business at the Wildcat 27-yard line. A six yard run by freshman tailback Chris Singleton and another six yard out to Williams moved the chains again.

Then the air came out of the tires on the Husky wagon. On second down, Pickett tried to throw a fade to Hooks in the corner of the endzone but Arizona cornerback Jermaine Chatman was in tight coverage and made the interception for a touchback with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Washington would get the ball back near midfield after a shanked punt by Peru. A 13-yard completion to Ware moved the Huskies to the Wildcat 38. Linebacker Kirk Johnson then put a cheap shot on Pickett's sore shoulder after he'd thrown the ball downfield. The flag moved the ball down to the 23-yard line and a very sore Pickett remained in the game. The drive was upended when an Arizona defensive lineman batted the ball into the air and Pickett caught it and was tackled for a 10-yard loss. John Anderson's 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right and Arizona dodged a bullet.

Washington created their first turnover of the game when Rattay threw a pass that looked like a bar of soap slipping out of his hand. Wondame Davis made the interception at the Husky 23-yard line.

On second and eight from the Wildcat 38-yard line, Pickett launched a deep ball for Paul Arnold. It was underthrown and Arnold adjusted his body and broke in front of Chatman and got both hands to the ball but was unable to hang on before falling into the endzone. The next play resulted in Washington's third turnover of the second half when Alex Luna batted Pickett's pass at the line and linebacker Ray Wells intercepted it. Pickett tackled Wells to save the touchdown.

With 9:27 remaining in the game Arizona took over on Washington's 39-yard line.

The Wildcats picked a horrible time to turn the ball over for the first time in the game. Rattay and Farmer collided trying to make an exchange and fumbled the ball. Husky linebacker Marquis Cooper recovered the loose football at the Husky 15-yard line.

Pickett would throw his fourth interception two plays later, Chatman's second of the ball game. Chatman was playing center field and the ball was thrown right to him in an apparent miscommunication between quarterback and receiver.

That set up Farmer's 16-yard bolt up the middle to put the ‘Cats on top 28-21.

Washington almost got it all back on the next kick off when Roc Alexander took the ensuing kickoff back 74 yards, finally getting run out of bounds on the Wildcat 15-yard line. From there Arizona's defense stiffened. Rich Alexis was thrown for a six yard loss on an option play on first down. Pickett nearly threw his fifth interception of the game on second down but Michael Jolivette dropped it. After another incomplete pass John Anderson came on and nailed a 39-yard field goal to draw the Huskies to within four with four minutes remaining.

Washington's defense forced a three and out from the Wildcats and a short punt set the Huskies up on their own 45-yard line with a time out and 2:18 remaining in the game. Pickett immediately found Elstrom for 19 yards. After a six yard keeper, Pickett dropped back and found Reddick again, this time for 27 yards all the way down to the three yard line.

The goal line offense got off to a poor start, taking a delay of game penalty on first down. After the five yards were marked off, Pickett threw for Williams but Jolivette broke up the play. He found Elstrom on second down at the three yard line, setting up his final scramble into the endzone for the game winner with 0:13 left on the clock.

Washington improves to 3-1 in the Pac-10 while Arizona remains winless at 0-4.
Husky Notes

Opening with fire: When Washington marched 73 yards on their first drive of the game it marked the first time all season the Huskies had scored on their initial possession of the game.

Going Deep: Arnold's 78-yard touchdown reception was the 8th longest in Husky history. It was the longest play for both Arnold and Cody Pickett in their careers.

Heads up: John Rattay had to finish out the game for the Wildcats as starter Jason Johnson left in the second quarter with a concussion.

Wildcat injured: Defensive end Johnny Jackson was transported from Husky Stadium in an ambulance with a possible injury to his neck. Jackson sat upright for twenty minutes before being strapped onto a back board and leaving the stadium for Harborview Medical Center. It was a precautionary move.

Huskies hurt: Willie Hurst (thigh bruise) and Rich Alexis (shoulder, dizziness) both were banged up this evening. They are both probable for ASU right now.

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