Arizona’s (6-2, 4-1) running game repeatedly ripped off huge runs against Washington State’s (7-2, 4-2) “Speed D” thanks to the number of talented tailbacks in the Wildcats’ backfield and their gifted quarterback. As for WSU, starting quarterback Luke Falk was benched towards the end of the second quarter and did not come back in during the 37-58 loss in Tucson, Ariz.
Khalil Tate would break off a 49-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up by two possessions at the start of the fourth quarter. The sophomore quarterback broke off the run against a defense that had failed to surrendered several explosive runs throughout the second half. It was clear that the defense didn’t have an answer to the Wildcats offensive attack.
The Wildcats would put the game out of reach when backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski would get intercepted for the fourth time when he attempted to force the ball to Renard Bell and it was picked off by Colin Schooler. Schooler would return the picked off pass 66-yards to give Arizona a 51-30 lead with 11:11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Washington State would respond to the pick-six with a touchdown pass to Tay Martin that was all on the wide receiver — Martin caught a quick pass, then ran it the rest of the way into the end zone. Even after the touchdown the Cougs were still trailing by touchdowns. But the Cougars defense would immediately give up a huge pass and rushing touchdown to extend Zona’s lead to 21-points.
Hilinski would throw his third pick of the game when he didn’t see the safety in the end zone and tried to force the ball to Dezmon Patmon in the back of the end zone while running from the pocket. JJ Taylor would rip off a 79-yard touchdown run two plays after Hilinski’s interception to give Arizona a 37-27 lead; at this point starting quarterback Luke Falk was warming up on the sideline after sitting out the majority of the third quarter…as well as the end of the second.
Arizona would retake the lead when Taylor marched into the end zone from the Cougars’ three-yard line on the play immediately after he broke off a 62-yard run to get into the Wildcats into Washington State territory. Taylor was able break off the huge run because the defense didn’t stay in its gaps and over pursued to the ball carrier. It was a disastrous drive for the defense that had, to that point, been able to contain the Wildcats running backs.
Hilinski would follow the Wildcats touchdown by overthrowing an open Tay Martin and into the hands of Lorenzo Burns. Fortunately for the Cougars, Arizona wouldn’t do anything with the rock after the pick and would be forced to punt the ball.
WSU would take its first lead of the game when Hilinski ran into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game to give his team a 27-24 lead midway through the third quarter. The touchdown capped off a six play drive that operated in fits and starts but the Cougs were able to punch it into the end zone.
The Speed D would get its second turnover of the game when Marcellus Pippins would ge to the wideout a little early to tip the ball away from Jahad Wood would come down with the interception.
Tyle Hilinski would remain behind center for the Cougars coming out of the locker room and he’d lead a nice five play drive before throwing an interception to give Arizona its own 32-yard line. But the Cougars defense would get the ball back when Frankie Luvu hit Tate to force a fumble that was recovered by Robert Taylor.
Hilinski would make the Wildcats pay for that fumble when he’d hit Tay Martin for an eight yard touchdown on a perfectly thrown pass right into the freshmen’s shoulder pad. While Powell would doink the PAT off of the upright, the Wildcats’ lead would be down to three points early in the third quarter.
Mike Leach would bench Falk in favor of Hilinski on the final drive of the half. The redshirt sophomore would guide the Cougars offense down the field with several well placed passes to wide receivers, including a beautifully thrown Y-Cross to Kyle Sweet to get Washington State into the red zone. On the next play, Hilinski would scramble in the pocket as it disintegrated before finding a running lane towards the end zone to cut the deficit to six.
#SpecialForces would strike by allowing Tyrell Johnson to return the ensuing kickoff 45-yards. With one second left Pollack would nail a 57-yard field goal as time expired to give Arizona a 23-14 lead heading into the locker room.
After another WSU punt, the Cougs would give up a 82-yard run to Tate to set-up a first and goal at the Cougars two-yard line. The defense would step up on the next play to stuff Green off the hand off; and then Washington State’s defense would swarm Tate and Green on an option that the quarterback kept. On third and goal, from the nine yard-line, the Speed D would only give up one yard to force the 25-yard field goal to give Zona a 20-7 lead with just under three minutes left in the first half.
Tate would toss his second touchdown pass of the game when he’d hit Brown on a screen pass then couple of blockers would spring the wideout free for a 17-yard touchdown. The Wildcats set-up that touchdown pass with 41-yard pass to Ellison to get into Washington State territory on the first play of the drive.
A promising drive that started with less than a minute left in the first quarter and ended in the fourth quarter ended when the Cougs were forced to punt after a dropped pass by Martin Jr. and a low pass to a double covered Bell. Powell’s 56-yard field goal attempt had plenty of leg but was just to the left of the goal post.The pass that Martin Jr. dropped was infuriating because he was about two yards behind his defender and three or more steps ahead of them; it would have been an easy touchdown if he’d pulled it in.
Washington State’s special team’s unit would generate the Cougs first break of the game when Brown failed to pull in the punt and Martin Jr. pulled in the muffed ball. The Cougs started on Zona’s 25-yard line when the redshirt senior quarterback would hit Morrow for a 13-yard gain to get to the Cougs into first and goal; WSU would be unable to score on its next three plays before Falk would hit Johnson-Mack in the end zone on fourth and goal from the one.
On the Wildcats first drive of the game Tate showed off his arm by tossing a 43-yard bomb to Shawn Poindexter while the wideout was racing down field. The sophomore would struggle to run the ball against Washington State’s front seven during Zona’s first drive, but the tailbacks did a good job of generating space and picking up yards. It was a solid drive that was capped off by a Josh Pollack 30-yard field goal to give UA a 3-0 lead.
The Cougars would go three and out on their first drive to give Arizona its ball back at the 50. Three plays later Tate would hit the big tight end Jamie Nunley for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 10- lead early in the first quarter.