By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Solemn and silent was how the Wildcats left the field Saturday night.
There were no smiles. No laughter. Mostly blank stares.
Arizona had charged onto the field but ended up fighting its way out of a near ambush.
"The guys know when they've been in a battle," UA coach Dick Tomey said. "And that's the toughest battle we've been in."
No. 6 Arizona (4-0, 2-0 in the Pacific 10 Conference) held off a scrappy Oregon State team and, by adding some late scores, came away with a 30-10 win at Arizona Stadium.
From the early stages, the Beavers clearly were not going to lie down and accept defeat at the hands of Arizona. A wishbone offense and a blitzing defense kept the Wildcats on edge.
"We did things against a quality football team that hasn't been done against them in a long time," Oregon State coach Jerry Pettibone said. "We were able to make some yards."
The Beaver wishbone pounded its way for 185 yards, the most rushing yards Arizona had allowed since Arizona State ran for 192 in the last game of the 1991 season, a year before the Desert Swarm reputation had begun.
"They're just so physical," said UA outside linebacker Chris Lopez, who led the team with 11 tackles. "We had some busted assignments and they made some big plays."
Beaver quarterback Don Shanklin sprinted out of the backfield to lead his team in rushing (12 carries, 85 yards) and provided a 51-yard run, the longest Arizona had allowed since ASU's Kevin Galbreath equaled that in '92. But Shanklin was the most dangerous, completing 4 of 8 passes for 101 yards, for an average of more than 25 yards per throw.
While the Beavers nearly closed in, Arizona was able to maintain a 20-10 lead going into the half. The Wildcats took the lead on field goals of 49 and 25 yards by Steve McLaughlin in the first quarter. Dan White's touchdown passes to Richard Dice and Lamar Harris made the Wildcats look like they might run away with the game like they had the week before against Stanford.
But the Beavers (1-3, 0-2) hung close until they were eventually done in by three fumbles which helped Arizona seal the win.
The Wildcats weren't able to march down the field with ease. A guessing game began as to who the Beavers would send blitzing each play and that caused White to get chased and sacked four times, having the wind knocked out of him on one play.
"They're a pressure team and I have a lot of respect for them because they came after us," White said. "If you expect to not get hit and not get pressured, it doesn't happen."
But White was still able to find receivers, especially with a one-on-one coverage.
"I hope it doesn't change. Hopefully, people will start seeing we have a good receiving corps all the way around whether they respect us or not," Dice said. "If they keep playing man-to-man, some of the same things are going to happen."
Like the Stanford game, Arizona went scoreless in the third quarter but added 10 points in the fourth. McLaughlin booted a 32-yard field goal and White found Dice again for a 34-yard touchdown.
Tomey said going for it on that play was the safest way to preserve the lead.
"The only chance to lose the game is if we get a kick blocked," Tomey said. "They block the kick and run it for a touchdown and it's a six point game. You can't kick it there."
In both of the Wildcats conference games they have come out as victors but that has come at the sacrifice of losing players to injuries.
So banged up are the Wildcats that both of their top two tailbacks have suffered ankle sprains. Carter further aggravated his injury while backup Gary Taylor sat out the game. That forced most of the rushing duties on true freshman Kevin Schmidtke. Linebackers Sean Harris, UA's leading tackler, and Thomas Demps both sat out with injuries.
Despite not dominating, there was no disappointment for the Wildcats because they won convincingly by the point margin. They could rest assured that the two teams Arizona shared last year's Pac-10 title with Ä UCLA and Southern Cal Ä had both suffered losses to conference teams.
"A win is a win regardless how you do it," Carter said. "As long as we're getting W's, it shouldn't matter what anybody has to say. I don't think anybody has the right to say we're down or we looked flat."
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