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Not again! Cats can't hold late lead, fall to Cougars, 20-19

By Brett Fera
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sunday, September 26, 2004

The inability to hold on to a late game lead.

Turning the ball over often, and at inopportune times.

It was the same story for the Arizona football team (1-3) Saturday, as visiting Washington State (3-1) capitalized on a Gilbert Harris fumble while trailing by five with two minutes to play, defeating the Wildcats 20-19 at Arizona Stadium.

With time on their side, Harris and the Wildcats only goal while nursing a late 19-15 lead was to run the ball, and let the clock run out.

But Washington State's Pat Bennett - more specifically his helmet - jarred the ball out of Harris' hands and straight into the air, giving the Cougars a short field to work with after they recovered the ball.

"We did everything right. We were one play from taking a knee," said UA head coach Mike Stoops. "It looked like he just put his hat on the ball."

It's only a matter of time after that before Wazzu capitalized, sending the Wildcats to their second straight heart-breaking loss in a row.

"It's real frustrating," said Arizona defensive end Carlos Williams. "Obviously this is going to hurt tonight."

UA sophomore kicker Nicholas Folk missed a pair of field goals in the Wildcats 9-7 loss last week to Wisconsin, but rebounded by connecting on both of his attempts in the game.

It may have been an Arizona turnover that ultimately decided the game but Washington State's inability to keep hold of the ball allowed the Wildcats to jump out to leads of 13-7 and 19-15. The Cougars fumbled the ball fives times to Arizona's four, with the Wildcats recovering four to Washington State's two.

Washington State quarterback Josh Swogger through for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns on an afternoon where WSU head coach Bill Doba didn't announce Swogger as the starter until just before game time. Swogger suffered a leg injury in the Cougars 49-8 win over Idaho a week ago and was considered questionable all week.

Arizona quarterback Kris Heavner, who entered the game completing more than 70 percent of his passes on the season, good for the third best mark in Division I-A, completed just 15-of-31 passes on the day for 183 yards.

Heavner did connect with wideout Syndric Steptoe for a pair of touchdowns. Steptoe caught six passes on the day for 105 yards and the two scores.

Defensively, fullback-turned-linebacker forced a fumble, recovered two more and picked up 10 tackles against the Cougars.

The Wildcats are idle next week before taking on UCLA in Pasadena, Calif., on Oct. 9.

"I wish it was two weeks that we could feel good about what we did," Stoops said.

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