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October 21, 2012
Through six games and a bye week, Arizona had yet to put together a complete game on offense, defense and special teams - all at once.
That ended Saturday night.
The Wildcats scored on their first five drives, the defense pitched a shutout after the half and the special teams unit produced a score in a 52-17 rout over Washington in front of an announced attendance of 50,148 at Arizona Stadium.
"Obviously, really pleased with the guys' effort," Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I thought it was all three phases really for all four quarters, which was something we hadn't done."
UA (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12 Conference), which snapped a three-game losing streak, generated 533 yards of total offense behind a career-high four touchdown throws by quarterback Matt Scott, who was an efficient 14-of-22 passing and attempted just five throws in the second half after a school- and league-record 69 in the previous contest.
Running back Ka'Deem Carey added a personal-best 172 yards on 29 rushes and a score. The touchdown was Carey's 11th of the season, tying him for fourth place on the school's single-season charts.
Three different receivers accounted for touchdowns, and Austin Hill's two grabs extended his streak of multiple touchdown receptions to three games. Hill, who finished with 70 receiving yards on his only two catches of the night, added a stiff arm en route to one of his touchdowns.
"I didn't want to get tackled at the 3-yard line and have Ka'Deem get the touchdown," Hill joked.
Meanwhile, the defense forced a fumble, picked off Huskies quarterback Keith Price twice and sacked the junior on four other occasions. Arizona came into the game with just six sacks all season.
Price completed just 29 of 52 passes for 256 yards.
"I'm extremely disappointed," UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I envisioned a much different outcome, that's for sure."
UW (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) was held scoreless in the third and fourth quarters, marking the first time UA has blanked a conference foe in a quarter this season. The unit bounced back after coughing up late leads in each of its last two games against Oregon State and Stanford.
"Coach (Jeff) Casteel sent a little bit extra pressure," Rodriguez said of the team's ability to blitz effectively.
Leading by 21 points inside the first three minutes of the third, Richard Morrison then raced 63 yards for the program's first punt return for a touchdown since Bug Wright in 2009. The return, which Rodriguez called a "backbreaker," extended the advantage to 45-17 with 9:35 left, and the Wildcats carried that score into the final quarter.
Morrison said that backup receiver Trevor Ermisch told him before the game that he was going to break loose tonight.
"I caught it and just took off," Morrison added.
With a seven-point advantage to open the second quarter, the Arizona defense came up with rare back-to-back impact plays.
While Huskies linebacker Thomas Tutogi was supposed to be the bigger presence on defense as UW's leading tackler, it was older brother Taimi Tutogi who made an impact on that side of the ball early. After Price was sacked by both Hank Hobson and Reggie Gilbert, Taimi Tutogi applied enough pressure on the ensuing possession to help Tra'Mayne Bondurant easily pick off the pass for a 43-yard interception return.
"Every day we focus on getting pressure, executing the blitzes," Bondurant said.
The Wildcats took advantage as Scott's 1-yard keeper pushed the lead to 17-3 with 8:19 left until the half.
After asking for more "explosive plays" throughout the bye week from his offense, Rodriguez then watched Scott loft a 33-yard pass behind the defense to speedster Garic Wharton for a 33-yard touchdown.
"Anytime you can go out there and score quick and score easy, it's going to make your life a lot easier," Scott said.
Both Rodriguez and Wharton said afterward that the sophomore actually ran the wrong play. Wharton chalked it up to recently making the switch over from the outside to the slot.
"Basically, it was the wrong route," Wharton said. "I still got in the same spot I would if I ran the right route. So, it kind of all worked out."
Added Rodriguez: "But I didn't yell too much because he scored."
After UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins snapped the string of 17 unanswered points with a touchdown catch of his own, Scott then hit Hill for a 53-yard strike just 64 second later to give UA a 31-10 lead.
Attempting to tack on another score inside the final minute of the half, Scott instead was hit and forced into an interception that was returned 47 yards to the Arizona 3-yard line. Running back Bishop Sankey then cashed in a 1-yard score to cut the deficit to 31-17 going into the break.
"That was awful," Rodriguez said. "It was a shame that we had a nice lead - and we had the ball in great field position so we thought we were going to take a shot or two."
An offense that has struggled scoring points early this season - the Wildcats had produced just 20 first-quarter points through six games coming in - needed less than two minutes to get on the board.
After a UW field goal, the 'Cats engineered a seven-play, 75-yard drive in 1:55 capped by David Richards' wide-open 27-yard touchdown against the league's second-best pass defense to put UA ahead 7-3 with 7:48 remaining in the opening quarter.
The victory, UA's first in league action, provides momentum going into next week's matchup against the South Division favorites, No. 11-ranked USC.
"This is a big W for us," said defensive back Jourdon Grandon, who added a 29-yard interception return. "We see what we can do if we play as a team and win all three phases. It's going to be really good for us going into (the home game against) USC."