TUCSON, Ariz. – In the heat of the desert, it was Arizona that lit up the scoreboard and Washington who left town hoping their football season hasn’t gone up in flames.
Washington couldn’t stop Arizona’s no-huddle, up-tempo spread attack and its offense couldn’t keep up, with UW losing 52-17 and dropping its third in a row to fall to 3-4.
And that has the Huskies looking at a challenge in their last five games to get the six wins necessary to attain bowl eligibility, let alone match or better last year’s seven-victory total.
Arizona led 24-3 in the second quarter, 31-17 at halftime and 45-17 at the end of the third quarter in cruising to its first conference win of the season.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian, 22-23 in his fourth year with the Huskies, had said during the week he hoped this game would get Washington on the right foot beginning the second half of the season.
Instead, the Huskies have had three straight decisive defeats since a 17-13 win over No. 8 Stanford on Sept. 27 that the team hoped marked a return to being able to compete against the elites of the Pac-12. UW also dropped to 4-15 on the road under Sarkisian, and 4-11 in conference games.
Washington led 3-0 after scoring on its opening drive, a march that inspired some optimism that the Huskies would be able to move the ball against an Arizona defense that was ranked 110th in the nation.
But while the Huskies had some moments on offense, they essentially needed to score every time they had the ball or fall hopelessly behind. Three turnovers (all by quarterback Keith Price on a fumble and two interceptions) proved deadly, as did an Arizona punt return for a touchdown.
The one ray of hope UW had came in the final minutes of the first half when Arizona quarterback Matt Scott was hit as he threw and Travis Feeney picked it off at the 50 and returned it to the 3-yard line. Bishop Sankey (87 yards on 19 carries) scored three plays later and the Wildcats’ lead was cut to 31-17 just before the half.
Arizona got the ball to start the second half and UW appeared ready to make its comeback serious when Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey fumbled and Washington’s Talia Crichton recovered at the Wildcats’ 47.
But on the next play, Price was hurried and hit by Marquis Flowers, who stripped the ball out of Price’s hands – his fourth fumble in the past three games. Arizona’s Dan Pettinato recovered at the UW 43 and the Wildcats quickly drove for Scott’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill to make it 38-17 with 12:23 left in the third quarter.
UW then went three-and-out – two penalties killing the drive – and Richard Morrison returned the ensuing punt 63 yards for a touchdown to make it 45-17 with 9:35 left in the third quarter and kill any remaining suspense.
UW—FG Coons 43
UA—Richards 27 pass from Scott (Bonano kick)
UA—FG Bonano 24
UA—Scott 1 run (Bonano kick)
UA—Wharton 33 pass from Scott (Bonano kick)
UW—Seferian-Jenkins 6 pass from Price (Coons kick)
UA—Hill 53 pass from Scott (Bonano kick)
UW—Sankey 1 run (Coons kick)
UA—Hill 17 pass from Scott (Bonano kick)
UA—Morrison 63 punt return (Bonano kick)
UA—Carey 2 run (Bonano kick)
|Time of Possession||32:26||27:34|
RUSHING—Washington, Sankey 19-87, Taylor 3-47, Price 7-(-10). Arizona, Carey 29-172, Scott 8-43, Baker 4-28, Jenkins 6-21, Watley 1-11, Denker 1-2.
PASSING—Washington, Price 29-52-2-256. Arizona, Scott 14-22-1-256.
RECEIVING—Washington, Seferian-Jenkins 8-110, Williams 8-80, Sankey 6-32, Taylor 3-13, Mickens 2-13, Hartvigson 1-6, Bruns 1-2. Arizona, Buckner 5-86, Wharton 3-59, Hill 2-70, Richards 2-35, Tutogi 1-4, Carey 1-2.