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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Run game revived – for a week

    The Arizona football team chose to emphasize the run Saturday in readying its offense for No. 4 USC.

    First-time starter Chris Jennings was more than happy to oblige.

    Jennings ran for 201 yards on 26 carries, as the Wildcats defeated Stephen F. Austin 28-10 in front of 47,402 at Arizona Stadium.

    The walk-on junior got the call in place of starter Chris Henry, who was suspended for Saturday’s game after an unspecified violation of team rules, and finished as Arizona’s first 200-yard rusher since Mike Bell had 221 in a 27-22 win over Washington in 2003.

    “”I’m grateful and happy that I’m given a chance andan opportunity,”” Jennings said. “”This is here for me, and I just have to take advantage of it and run with it.””

    After gaining 102 yards in their first two games, the Wildcats (2-1) exploited the Lumberjacks’ defense for 263 yards on the ground, including 57 on 10 carries by redshirt freshman Xavier Smith.

    Arizona called 41 runs to 25 passes, as UA head coach Mike Stoops said creating confidence on the ground after two straight mediocre performances was the team’s biggest priority against SFA (0-3).

    “”I know the talent level wasn’t what it was the two previous weeks or what we’re going to see in the (Pacific 10 Conference), but still, it was good to see us execute some things better,”” Stoops said.

    Quarterback Willie Tuitama relieved first-time starter Adam Austin to start the fourth quarter, the sophomore’s first game action since suffering a concussion in Arizona’s 45-3 loss to No. 6 Louisiana State last Saturday.

    With the Wildcats up 14-10, Tuitama led the Wildcats to touchdowns on each of his two drives, the first on a 10-yard run by Jennings and the second on a three-yard touchdown pass to receiver Anthony Johnson.

    Tuitama went 6-of-9 for 61 yards in relief of Austin, who finished 11-of-16 for 83 yards and an interception.

    “”I owe it all to my O-line,”” Tuitama said. “”Jennings and Smith had some really great runs, and that helped open up the passing game. I feel really comfortable when the run is working.””

    Tuitama’s efforts created the distance Arizona needed against the Lumberjacks, who stayed in the game thanks to foiled Wildcat scoring opportunities and the elusiveness of quarterback Danny Southall (seven carries, 50 yards).

    Arizona nearly gave up the lead six minutes into the third quarter when an Austin pass was tipped at the Wildcat 11 and intercepted by Damien Perkins.

    The Wildcats held the Lumberjack to two yards on the next three plays, all runs, and then benefited from a 10-yard holding penalty on SFA, which led to kicker Cory Long’s missed field goal from 37 yards out.

    “”Sometimes, you play to the level of your competition, and we did not bring our ‘A’ game tonight,”” Stoops said. “”Next week, we need to come out and bring our ‘A+’ game against USC.””

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