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Recap and highlights: Arizona dominates all aspects in 44-6 rout of No. 19 Washington State

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

Arizona’s young quarterback shined and the Wildcats’ defense had its best game of the year. The 19th-ranked Washington State Cougars had no answers on either side of the ball.

Wildcat QB Noah Fifita picked apart the Cougs’ defense, and WSU’s offense stumbled throughout a 44-6 Pac-12 loss on Saturday at Gesa Field in Pullman.

Fifita completed 34 of 43 passes for 342 yards to collect his first win as Arizona’s QB.

A redshirt freshman, Fifita took over starting duties three weeks ago in place of injured starter Jayden de Laura, the former WSU quarterback. Fifita played well in his first two games – a one-score loss to No. 7 Washington on Sept. 30 and a triple-overtime defeat at No. 10 USC last weekend.

In his third try, Fifita looked like a veteran and the Wildcats posted a breakthrough victory.

Fifita didn’t score any touchdowns, but he played a poised and efficient game, guiding scoring drives on six of Arizona’s first seven possessions.

Fifita took what WSU’s defense gave to him, firing safe passes underneath while taking the occasional shot – he connected on six passes of 15 or more yards. Fifita completed passes to nine different receivers, and Arizona also got a productive day out of its ground game (174 yards).

In all, the Wildcats (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) outgained the Cougars 516-234.

WSU (4-2, 1-2) dropped its second straight game. In last week’s loss to UCLA, the Cougar offense was similarly sluggish, gaining a season-low 216 yards.

WSU scored on its opening possession against Arizona, but went lifeless afterward, crossing midfield on just three of their 11 possessions.

The Cougars committed three turnovers – including a turnover on downs deep in their own territory early in the game – and were held under 30 yards on nine drives. WSU managed just 35 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward went 22 of 30 for 192 yards. He threw a costly interception in the third quarter and lost a fumble on the ensuing drive as Arizona continued to pull away.

The Wildcats scored on four of their five possessions in the first half and took a 20-6 lead into the break. Fifita led a nice drive out of the half to put Arizona up 23-6. After a Ward interception, Fifita conducted a 16-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to effectively ice the game.

Arizona tailback Jonah Coleman totaled 168 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Backup running back Rayshon Luke tallied 88 yards of offense and scored twice.

The Cougs were led by running back Nakia Watson, who gained 88 receiving yards and scored a short rushing touchdown on WSU’s first drive.

WSU will travel to No. 8 Oregon next weekend. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

BOX SCORE

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First quarter

15:00 – WSU 0, UA 0: Cougars start with the ball after the opening kickoff goes for a touchback.

10:01 – WSU 6, UA 0: Watson punches in a 1-yard touchdown and the Cougars ease down the field for an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The 2pt try is no good.

Ward opens 5 of 6 for 62 yards. Good response from the WSU offense after contributing 10 points last week.

8:29 – UA 7, WSU 6: Wildcats answer with a quick touchdown drive. Fifita completes a 69-yard pass to Coleman and Coleman punches in a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.

6:52 – UA 7, WSU 6: Cougars hand it to their smaller running back Jenkins on fourth-and-short and are stuffed for a turnover on downs. Arizona starts at the Cougars 34.

5:18 – UA 10, WSU 6: Wildcats don’t go far, but settle for a 37-yard field goal after the fourth down stop.

4:00 – UA 10, WSU 6: Cougars go for a double pass with Mateer, who chucks it up into coverage and is intercepted by Prysock. Arizona starts on its 23.

Ward is 9 of 10 for 88 yards, but WSU opts to try some trickery.

Second quarter

14:53 – UA 17, WSU 6: Things couldn’t be going worse for the Cougars after the opening drive. Luke runs up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter and the Wildcats have scored 17 unanswered points.

12:55 – UA 17, WSU 6: Ward is sacked on second down and the Cougars are forced to punt. Arizona starts again on its 39 with WSU in need of a stop.

8:13 – UA 20, WSU 6: Wildcats drive 38 yards and Loop hits a 40-yard field goal. Stone pressured Fifita on third down to get the crucial stop for the Cougars.

 6:19 – UA 20, WSU 6: A couple of penalties back the Cougars up and Ward can’t find anyone open on third down. Another three-and-out for WSU, which has a turnover on downs, an interception and two punts since its TD on the opening drive.

Arizona starts on its 34.

2:11 – UA 20, WSU 6: Cougars force a punt and will start on their own 14. WSU has chance to get back in the game with a long drive here. 

Arizona will receive the second half kickoff.

0:59 – UA 20, WSU 6: Ward goes to throw on third down and the ball falls out of his hand for a fumble. WSU recovers but is tagged for a personal foul penalty and punt. The Wildcats start on their 40.

Halftime

Washington State started strong against Arizona and then fell flat, allowing 20 unanswered points to trail 20-6 going into halftime at Gesa Field.

Arizona outgained WSU 268-125 and stuffed the Cougars on its last five possessions of the half. Freshman QB Noah Fifita is 18 of 23 for 205 yards. 

Cameron Ward is 14 of 15 for 127 yards, but the Cougars have -2 rushing yards.

Arizona will receive the second half kickoff.

Third quarter

10:50 – UA 23, WSU 6: Fifita doesn’t flinch after halftime, leading Arizona to a 71-yard field goal drive.

The Cougars hold on third down from their 11 and the freshman Fifita wisely throws it away to give the Wildcats a three-score lead. Arizona now outgaining WSU 339-125. 

10:08 – UA 23, WSU 6: Davis reads Ward and jumps and underneath rout for an interception. WSU’s second turnover of the day and the last thing they needed.

Arizona starts on its 40.

2:57 – UA 30, WSU 6: Long drive capped with a 1-yard rush by Coleman. Dominant game by Arizona summed up with a 16-play, 60-yard drive.

0:11 – UA 30, WSU 6: Ward fumbles and the Wildcats recover at their own 46. Third turnover for the Cougars and second in as many possessions for Ward.

Fourth quarter

13:22 – UA 30, WSU 6: Arizona punts to the WSU 7 and the Cougars will have a full field in front of them trying to score for the first time since their first possession.

12:42 – UA 30, WSU 6: Ward’s pass falls incomplete on fourth down and the Cougars turn it over. Arizona starts on the WSU 25.

12:37 – UA 37, WSU 6: Williams rushes for 15-yard touchdown as the Wildcats continue to pour it on. Cougars have been completely outmatched.

6:52 – UA 44, WSU 6: Coleman waltz 23-yard for a touchdown past a lifeless Cougars defense. Arizona up to 495 yards in the game.

4:16 – UA 44, WSU 6: Cougars turn it over and the Wildcats should be able to run most of the clock out.

Pregame

Washington State suffered its first loss of the season last week at UCLA. If the Cougars aren’t careful it could turn into two.

No. 19 WSU (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) host Arizona (3-3, 1-2) today for homecoming at 4 p.m. The broadcast will be on Pac-12 Network.

The Wildcats are 7½-point underdogs according to VegasInsider.com, but have given heavy favorites close games the past two weeks. 

Freshman quarterback Noah Fifita replaced injured former WSU QB Jaden de Laura and made his first start in a 31-24 loss to then-No. 7 Washington. Fifita then led the Wildcats in a thrilling 3OT loss to No. 10 USC last week.

Fifita has thrown for 604 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

Washington State faced another freshman QB during its loss to UCLA, though, the defeat didn’t fall on the Cougars defense. 

Wazzu’s offense contributed three points in the first half of last week’s game against UCLA. WSU totaled 216 yards, allowed four sacks and had four turnovers.

Series history

The Wildcats hold a 27-19-0 all-time series lead over the Cougars, but WSU has won the last three meetings.

Wazzu won last year’s game in Tucson 31-20, a rout where the Cougars led 31-6 in the fourth quarter.

Team stats

Scoring WSU Zona
Points Per Game 45.8 29.8
Points Allowed Per Game 25.5 23.0
Total Yards 532 442
     Yards Passing 406 279
     Yards Rushing 126 163
Yards Allowed 382 347
     Pass Yards Allowed 250 241
     Rush Yards Allowed 132 106

Individual leaders

PASSING Att.-Comp. Yards TD Int.
Cameron Ward (WSU) 124-180 1,586 14 2
Noah Fifita (Arizona) 60-82 604 8 2
RUSHING Carries Yards TD
Nakia Watson (WSU) 46 153 2
Jonah Coleman (Arizona) 54 363 0
RECEIVING Receptions Yards TD
Josh Kelly (WSU) 26 376 5
Tetairoa McMilan (Arizona) 33 524 5

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