TUCSON, Ariz. — So much for the Washington Huskies supposedly getting a big break by facing Arizona’s backup quarterback, Matt Scott, instead of starter Nick Foles.
It’s hard to imagine Foles could have had any more success than did Scott, who tore apart the Washington defense with his arm and his legs in leading the No. 15 Wildcats to a surprisingly easy 44-14 win in front of 56,244 at Arizona Stadium.
Scott, a junior, got his first start of the season in place of the injured Foles, who hurt his knee last week at Washington State.
Scott, who had been Arizona’s starter the first three games of 2009 but was then benched, completed 18 of 22 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 65 yards on seven carries in sending the Huskies to a devastating defeat.
Washington is 3-4 overall and 2-2 in Pac-10 play after a performance that typified its inconsistent season.
The Huskies hoped a 35-34 double overtime win over Oregon State last Saturday had them back on the path to a bowl game. Instead, those aspirations took a heavy hit. UW now has to win three of its final five just to get to 6-6, with its next two games coming next Saturday at home against Stanford and then at Oregon.
Other than taking a 7-0 lead on its first possession after forcing a fumble, there were few highlights for the Huskies, who never figured out a way to stop Arizona’s offense — and couldn’t move consistently after the early touchdown.
Arizona led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored UW 20-7 in the second quarter to take command.
Things got so bad that Arizona scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter when Scott fumbled a snap, then threw 21 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to Juron Criner. Making it worse, UW was called for two penalties on the play.
And if it seemed all-too-familiar to a 56-21 loss to Nebraska last month, there might have been good reason. Scott, like Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez who ran and passed all over UW in that game, is a graduate of Centennial High in Corona, Calif.
The pregame worry was the health of Huskies quarterback Jake Locker as it was revealed he is also playing with sore ribs suffered in the Oregon State game along with a few other ailments from a tough first half of the season.
But other than the fact that he didn’t run much, Locker looked fine early, completing 11 of 19 for 139 yards in the first half.
The UW offense, though, simply couldn’t keep up with an Arizona offense that had been held to just 24 points last week at Washington State.
Arizona led 30-14 at halftime, amassing an astonishing 356 yards, more than UW had allowed in beating Oregon State last week, including the two overtimes. It was also more than Arizona had gained in beating Washington State last week (352).
The Huskies scored first to take a 7-0 lead with 11:33 left in the first quarter after recovering an Arizona fumble at their 38.
But Arizona dominated in every way the rest of the way.
Scott went 14 of 16 in the first half for 186 yards and one touchdown while the Wildcats rushed for 170 yards on 36 carries.
Keola Antolin got 78 on one play, a run up the middle that he broke for a touchdown when he juked past UW safety Justin Glenn at about the 40-yard line and then sped the rest of the way for the touchdown.
That came after UW had cut the lead to 17-14 on a 1-yard run by Chris Polk with 7:55 left.
That score had halted a run of 17 in a row by the Wildcats and briefly turned the momentum UW’s way.
But Antolin’s run swing the game UA’s direction for good.
And after the Huskies were stopped, Arizona again moved for a touchdown (with the PAT being blocked) to take a 30-14 lead with 1:54 remaining in the half.
Washington drove to the Arizona 30 on its next drive but a sack helped halt the drive and the Wildcats took a knee at their 20 with 1:11 left in the half, deciding to run out the clock rather than try for more points.
Excluding that drive, UA scored touchdowns on four of its six first-half possessions, getting a field goal on another, and fumbling the ball away after moving into Husky territory on the other.
The Huskies got the ball first to start the second half. But after getting one first down, Locker was hit and fumbled, Arizona recovering at the 26. The Wildcats needed six plays to go in for the touchdown and take a 37-14 lead with 10:09 left, ending all the suspense before the second half had barely begun.