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Arizona football vs. No. 19 Washington State recap: Arizona gets its first ranked win of the season in style

UA+football+players+make+their+way+onto+their+home+field+for+the+first+game+of+the+season+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+2%2C+against+NAU.+The+game+was+victorious+for+the+Wildcats%2C+who+secured+a+38-3+win.
Olivia Malone
UA football players make their way onto their home field for the first game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, against NAU. The game was victorious for the Wildcats, who secured a 38-3 win.

The Arizona football team defeated No. 19 Washington State University 44-6 on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Gesa Field in Pullman, Washington. The Wildcats were finally able to put together two halves of football against a top-ranked team, resulting in the largest margin of victory on the road against a ranked opponent in program history for Arizona. The Wildcats controlled this game from start to finish, never allowing the Cougars to return to the end zone after their opening-drive touchdown. With this performance, the Wildcats continue to demonstrate their ability to compete with the best teams in the nation.

The Cougars’ star quarterback, Cameron Ward, entered the game ranked 21st in the nation in passing yards (1,779) and tied for 5th in passing touchdowns with 14. In this game, he recorded his lowest passing yards of the season (192) and failed to score a passing or rushing touchdown.

Offense

Noah Fifita returned as the signal caller for the Wildcats and, after this performance, it should be a permanent change. In his third career start, he completed 34 of 43 passes for 342 yards with no turnovers. His chemistry with the offensive players continues to progress exponentially, especially with running back Jonah Coleman, who posted a season-high 98 yards on four catches, 11 carries for 70 yards and three touchdowns on the ground

Running backs Rayshon Luke and DJ Williams also had impressive performances, with Luke adding 71 yards with a touchdown and Williams contributing 37 yards with another touchdown, while lead back Michael Wiley remained sidelined due to injury.

Although none of the receivers scored a touchdown, several were involved in this contest, thanks to Fifita‘s ability to distribute the ball effectively. Leading receivers in this game included Tetairoa McMillan with seven catches for 68 yards, Tanner McLachlan with four catches for 48 yards, Montana Lemonious-Craig with five catches for 32 yards, Jacob Cowing with eight catches for 29 yards and Kevin Green Jr. with two catches for 27 yards. This game marked the third time this season that Arizona had at least five pass catchers with more than 20 receiving yards in a game, and the first time since the game against Mississippi State University in week 2.

The offense has significantly improved with Fifita under center. This offense has scored 40-plus points in the last two games, and, unlike in previous performances, much of this scoring occurred in the first half of play. The slow start trend has ceased, which is something Arizona will have to continue as they face more explosive offenses and ranked teams in the coming weeks.

Defense

Apart from surrendering the initial touchdown at the start of the game, the defense played its best game of the season. They forced three turnovers, resulting in 14 points for Arizona. Additionally, the Cougars’ offense was held to season lows in total points, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Cornerback Ephesians Prysock secured the first Arizona interception of the season in the first quarter against Washington State backup quarterback John Mateer on a trick play. Cornerback Tacario Davis intercepted Ward in the third quarter, resulting in his second interception thrown on the season. Defensive lineman Bill Norton forced a fumble on Ward just two drives later, which was recovered by linebacker Justin Flowe.

Defensive linemen Taylor Upshaw and Jacob Kongaika each also had one sack and a tackle for loss

Looking ahead:

This Arizona team continues to make steady progress on both sides of the ball. Following this first statement win of the season, the expectations of reaching a bowl game are what Arizona fans from this point on will be expecting. With Fifita likely remaining as the primary signal caller, that hope is looking more and more realistic as each week passes. 

The Wildcats will have a bye week next weekend, before hosting No. 15 Oregon State University on Saturday, Oct. 28.


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