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Wildcats almost robbed by Vandals

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UA wide receiver Bobby Wade evades Idaho safety Tim Sams after a catch in Saturday night's Wildcat victory against the Vandals. The Wildcats led 36-7 in the second half, but Idaho scared Arizona with three touchdowns late in the game. UA held on for a 36-29 win.

By Maxx Wolfson

Tuesday September 11, 2001

Idaho scores 29 late to make it close

It appeared the game was over - at least the Wildcats players thought so, as did more than half of the 44,250 fans who packed into Arizona Stadium last night - after UA took a commanding 29-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Apparently, nobody told Idaho coach Tom Cable and his players it was time to go home.

Despite giving up 29 fourth-quarter points, Arizona (2-0) was able to hold off an Idaho (0-2) charge and win by a score of 36-29 at Arizona Stadium.

"I feel like we gave up a little bit," said UA sophomore cornerback Michael Jolivette. "I think our conditioning was kind of a problem."

With the possibility of a defensive shutout and a commanding lead in the fourth frame, UA head coach John Mackovic, making his home debut, opted to pull most of the first-string offense and defense.

Score by Quarters
Idaho Vandals 0 0 0 29 29 | Record: (0-2)
Arizona Wildcats 3 12 7 14 36 | Record: (2-0)

UA junior quarterback Jason Johnson, who went 20-30 for 304 yards, was pulled for backups sophomore Cliff Watkins and freshman John Rattay.

Only looking to kill clock, the Arizona offense was unable to gain key first downs in the fourth quarter - UA had three first downs to Idaho's 14.

"I told (the offense) that all we needed to do is the run the ball, and we couldn't even pick up a first down," Mackovic said. "I wasn't the least bit satisfied."

UA - 36 | Vandals 29

RUSHING: Idaho Vandals-LEWIS, Blair 21-110, TENNER, Anthony 5-12, WELSH, John 11-minus 9. Arizona
Wildcats-FARMER, C. 18-118, MILLS, Leo 11-44, JOHNSON, Jason 1-15, COX, Tremaine 4-6, TEAM 2-minus 2.

PASSING: Idaho Vandals-WELSH, John 28-46-0-349, LINDGREN, Brian 2-3-1-17. Arizona Wildcats-JOHNSON,
Jason 20-30-0-304, RATTAY, John 0-2-0-0, WATKINS, Cliff 1-2-0-6, LEONARD, M. 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING: Idaho Vandals-LACY, Chris 6-98, BELSER, Chris 5-72, ARTIN, Rossi 5-48, JELMBERG, Josh
4-62, WINSTON, Orland 3-36, JONES, Ethan 2-42, O'CONNELL, K 2-6, SIPOLOA, Willie 1-2, LEWIS, Blair
1-1, DeANDA, Ray 1-minus 1. Arizona Wildcats-WADE, Bobby 5-70, LEONARD, M. 4-53, HUGO, James 4-18,
THURMAN, Andrae 3-48, RELFORD, L. 2-12, MARSHALL, B. 1-99, MILLS, Leo 1-6, FULCHER, A. 1-4.

In the middle of the fourth quarter, facing a second down with three yards to go, the Wildcats had the ball on the Vandal 39-yard line.

However, UA junior running back Leo Mills was unable to pick up the first down on three consecutive attempts from short yardage.

The Vandals responded with two touchdowns on the next two possessions. With less than a minute left in the game and down by a touchdown, Idaho was unable to recover an onside kick as UA sophomore wide receiver Gary Love was able to knock the ball out of bounds.

Rattay then kneeled down on the final two plays of the game to run out the clock to preserve the UA victory.

"I didn't expect them to get as many (points) as they did," Mackovic said. "I think they really felt that they were going to tie that game and go into overtime. Some of our guys were hanging on."

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KEVIN KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA tailback Clarence Farmer flips over Idaho linebacker Brad Rice in UA's 36-29 win over the Vandals. Farmer ran for 118 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns on the night.

Johnson said he was upset with the outcome of the fourth quarter.

"You never want to walk off the field like that," Johnson said. "I think you always want to finish strong but at the same time we are 2-0 and not a lot of teams in the country are."

The final score does little to illustrate how the Wildcats dominated most of the game - at the end of the third quarter, UA had gained 432 yards to Idaho's 207.

One gutsy play call resulted in 99 of those yards coming on one pass.

The Wildcats found themselves backed up to their own 1-yard line after Jolivette made a dramatic one-handed interception off Idaho quarterback John Welsh.

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ERIC M. JUKELEVICS/Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA running back Leo MIlls, rar right, slips past Idaho linebacker Jordan Lampos as UA tight end Peter Hansen gets away with a hold. Mills scored on a 22-yard touchdown scamper for the WIldcats in UA's 36-29 win.

Then the Wildcats took their shot at history.

Johnson ran a play-action pass from the UA goal line and hit senior wide receiver Brandon Marshall in stride for a 99-yard touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 15-0 lead. The play was the longest from scrimmage in the history of the program, eclipsing Trung Canidate's 96-yard run in 1998.

"That was something we had been working on all week long," Johnson said. "We were faking the run inside and as soon as I faked it, I had the green light to go up top. Brandon was the read the whole way, and if he wasn't open, we had Bobby (Wade) on the side."

Mackovic said it was the longest play he has ever called.

UA's first touchdown was set up by a 50-yard pass play to Bobby Wade. A subsequent face-masking penalty against the Vandals advanced the ball to the Vandal 7-yard line.

UA sophomore running back Clarence Farmer scored on a 12-yard run on the next play, the first of his two touchdowns for the game. Farmer finished the night with 118 yards on 18 carries.

Johnson connected with eight different wide receivers for the second consecutive game with junior wide receiver Bobby Wade catching five passes for 70 yards.

RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 37-113 36-181
Passes Att-Comp-Int 49-30-1 35-21-0
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards 2-4 3-7
Kickoff Returns-Yards 3-77 1-20
Interception Returns-Yards 0-0 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 6-43.8 5-38.2
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 10-91 8-93
Possession Time 33:03 26:57
Sacks By: Number-Yards 0-0 7-32

Vandal quarterback John Welsh struggled in the first three quarters, throwing for only 129 yards. However, he thrived in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats' second-string defense.

He finished the night going 28-46 for 349 yards and four touchdowns.

"I think he is good," Mackovic said. "He did a great job with his eyes, he looked people off."

Despite almost allowing the Vandals to come back, the Wildcats said they are still happy that they escaped with a 2-0 record.

"It does leave a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth," said UA junior quarterback Jason Johnson. "Obviously we want to come and finish strong because that's what champions do. You got to hand it to Idaho. They showed a lot of heart, and I was really proud of them."


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