Arizona’s week started with some bad news for its future with the decommitment of a prized recruit, who in his announcement intimated the program wasn’t a good place to develop his game. The week ended with an indication that development of the current roster is going pretty well.
A laundry list of second-year players led the way in a dominant 44-6 win at No. 19 Washington State on Saturday evening in Pullman, Wash. It was the largest margin of victory for the Wildcats (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) on the road in conference play in 40 years, largest ever against a ranked opponent, and gave then a road win over a ranked team for the second year in a row.
The UA last did that in 1997-98, and you have to go back to 1981-82 for the last time it did so as an unranked team.
Sophomore Jonah Coleman scored three rushing touchdowns and had 168 scrimmage yards, while redshirt freshman Noah Fifita earned his first win as the starting quarterback and sophomore Rayshon ‘Speedy’ Luke scored his first career TD and ran for a career-best 71 yards. Defensively, Arizona recorded its first two interceptions of the season, both by sophomore cornerbacks, while a sophomore defensive lineman had a key fourth-down stop that set up the Wildcats’ second score.
Arizona outgained WSU 516-234, with Fifita throwing for 342 yards on 34-of-43 passing. The Wildcats held the Cougars (4-2, 1-2) to 35 rushing yards, and after giving up 75 yards on the opening drive allowed 3.6 yards per play the rest of the game.
The UA scored on its first four possessions, the first time it did that since 2019 against Oregon State, a game it lost 56-38. It trailed less than five minutes into the game before running off 44 consecutive points.
Up 20-6 at the half, the largest halftime lead on the road in Pac-12 play in almost six years, Arizona made it a 3-score lead on a 21-yard Tyler Loop field goal on its first possession of the third quarter. The kill shots came a few minutes later, though.
They came in the form of Tacario Davis getting the Wildcats’ second pick, which set off a 16-play, 7-minute drive that ended with Coleman’s second 1-yard run and a 30-6 advantage with 2:57 left in the third.
DJ Williams added a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter, then Coleman scored for the third time from 23 yards out.
Down 6-0 after WSU scored on its opening drive, Arizona took the lead less than two minutes later on a 1-yard Coleman run. That came immediately after he caught a short pass over the middle with no one around him and raced 69 yards.
A fourth-down stuff by Kongaika gave the Wildcats the ball at the WSU 34, leading to a 37-yard field goal, then Ephesians Prysock intercepted a pass on a trick play to set up a 40-yard TD run by Luke on the first snap of the second quarter.
A 38-yard field goal upped the edge to 20-6 with 8:07 left in the first half, as WSU gained 14 yards the rest of the half after getting 75 on the opening drive.
Arizona is off next weekend before playing the next two at home, against No. 15 Oregon State on Oct. 28 and No. 18 UCLA on Oct. 4. The Wildcats need to win two of their remaining five games to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2017.