By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat September 23, 1996
SEATTLE - Saturday's game between Arizona and Washington may have given a glimpse of the Pacific 10 Conference's future stars as two freshman quarterbacks took the reins for their teams.
But if the Wildcats look to be in capable hands, the Huskies look to be in great ones.
Washington's Brock Huard finished the day completing 20 of his 30 attempts for 311 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the 24th-ranked Huskies (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the Pac-10) win over Arizona (2-2, 0-1) in front of 73,414 at Husky Stadium. It was the first time a Washington freshman has thrown for more than 300 yards in a game.
Huard showed versatility in his passing, hitting six different receivers with long, short, bullets and fades. But perhaps his biggest asset was his ability to make clutch plays. Washington converted 12 of its 18 third downs, many of them of the long-yardage variety.
"Huard did a great job for them," UA head coach Dick Tomey said. "He was accurate and just kept making big plays. But we also didn't do a good job on our end getting pressure on him."
Arizona's Keith Smith, who had 228 yards passing and 40 yards rushing, looked impressive early as well, but failed to match the Husky quarterback when it counted. Smith's interception with Washington leading 24-10 and about 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the game ended the Wildcats' hopes of a win.
Backed up on Arizona's own 22-yard line and facing a third down and eight, Smith threw a fade pass out while receiver Richard Dice took an inside route. Washington cornerback Tony Parrish intercepted it and took it back for a touchdown. That made the game 31-10, and while Smith did lead the team to another touchdown later, the interception virtually ended the Wildcats' hopes of pulling the game out.
"That interception was just a misread and it became an unfortunate play," Tomey said. "That hurt us, but it is one of those things that happens and you have to overcome."
"Keith was just a little confused in the huddle," Dice said. "It was a tough situation."
The Huskies dominated the first offensive series, using 13 plays to march 85 yards in 6:24. Huard was 6 for 6 on the drive for 71 yards, hitting primarily receiver Jerome Pathon, who slipped under the Wildcat coverage. Arizona cornerback Chris McAlister was victimized on the longest play of the drive, a 27-yard completion to Pathon down the right sideline.
Washington capped the drive when Huard faked a hand-off right, rolled left and found redshirt freshman receiver Gerald Harris in the end zone.
Washington mounted another drive on its third series. Huard struck on two key second down and long possessions, one an 18-yard completion to Fred Coleman on second down and 10, the other a 25-yard touchdown to Pathon, who again beat McAlister deep.
But McAlister was able to get a bit of revenge on Washington's next series. The Wildcats went three and out, but when Huard tried to go deep again, McAlister intercepted the ball and returned it 45 yards to the Huskies' 14-yard line. Smith's fade pass to Dice on the right side of the end zone then made it 14-10.
Arizona looked as if it would go into the locker room down only four points, but Huard found Dave Janoski for a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the half.
"That really hurt our morale, but that is the kind of thing we can't let break our spirits," McAlister said. "I think we still had faith at that point, but it was frustrating not getting it done."