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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Domination on all sides

    UA defensive end Ricky Elmore, 44, reaches for a loose ball during the Wildcats 48-14 win over Washington Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Arizona takes on Stanford in its next game and is now tied for first in the Pacific 10 Conference with California with an overall record of 4-1.
    UA defensive end Ricky Elmore, 44, reaches for a loose ball during the Wildcats’ 48-14 win over Washington Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Arizona takes on Stanford in its next game and is now tied for first in the Pacific 10 Conference with California with an overall record of 4-1.

    Tight end Rob Gronkowski is just getting back into rhythm in the Wildcats’ offense, but it didn’t show in a 48-14 Arizona win over Washington (0-5, 0-3 Pacific 10 Conference) Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

    The sophomore’s first catch of the game came on a middle screen pass and he outran the entire Washington secondary for a 37-yard touchdown catch.

    His next grab came on the fourth play of the following possession – a 27-yard reception. Two possessions later, he hauled in a 9-yard scoring grab and added an 8-yarder on the Wildcats’ first possession of the second half.

    In all, Gronkowski had five catches for 109 yards for the Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) and three touchdowns, tying a school record.

    “”There’s a lot of teams that try to play over on Mike (Thomas) and then when they do that you’ve got big Rob. Really, whatever they do is wrong,”” said UA quarterback Willie Tuitama. “”What I’ve got to do is just find it. Just see the defense, how they’re gonna try and play them and just try and get the ball to the right guy.””

    The senior did just that as he guided the Wildcats’ offense in an efficient, turnover-free performance in front of an announced crowd of 55,624. He strung together 14 consecutive passes at one point and finished the game 17-of-21 for 193 yards and the three touchdown tosses to Gronkowski. Running back Nic Grigsby resembled his early-season form with his 113 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.

    The second string offense took over midway through the third quarter and didn’t miss a beat. Freshman Matt Scott led the team on a 6-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Xavier Smith, pushing the Arizona lead to 48-7.

    The defense was just as efficient. Washington gained 181 yards passing – 62 of which came on one play at the start of the second quarter – and rushed for 63 yards on 28 attempts. The 244 offensive yards isn’t much higher than the Wildcats’ 221.75-yard average, a mark good enough for second in the nation entering Saturday.

    An aggressive Arizona defense harassed Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch throughout the night in the redshirt freshman’s first career start. He completed 43 percent of his passes, threw one interception and was sacked once. Arizona also forced two fumbles, recovering one, had two tackles for loss and broke up nine passes in a dominating performance.

    “”Our big thing is to just make them earn their yards,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”We take a lot of pride in being very, very disciplined and very sound in what we do.””

    The special teams chipped in with a few career milestones. Senior Mike Thomas recorded his first career punt return for a touchdown on a 48-yard scamper in the second quarter, and kicker Jason Bondzio tied a career-high with his 49-yard field goal – an effort that would have been good from about 60 yards.

    The win, UA head coach Mike Stoops’ first home win in October, puts Arizona in a tie for first in the Pac-10 with California – a team the Wildcats host on Oct. 18. But even as the squad now sits just two wins away from bowl eligibility, Arizona isn’t looking ahead to the contest against the Golden Bears.

    “”As far as I’m concerned Stanford is the only team on the schedule right now. I’m not looking ahead to anyone else in the Pac-10,”” said safety Cam Nelson. “”I think that’s what we did last year, we looked ahead too much. All of our attention is focused on Stanford.””

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