Wildcats Hold Off Late Utah Surge To Win 23-17

Sept. 14, 2002

Final Stats

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Jason Johnson threw for a career-high 416 yards,including touchdown passes of 47 and 44 yards, and Arizona barely held off Utah23-17 on Saturday night.

The Wildcats (2-0) outgained Utah 459-204, but had to withstand a finaldrive to escape with the victory.

Utah moved from its 28 to the Arizona 3 in the final minutes and appeared tohave scored a touchdown when Josh Lyman made a diving catch of Lance Rice's12-yard pass in the back of the end zone, but the referee ruled his knee camedown out of bounds.

On fourth-and-1 from the 3, Rice tossed a lateral to J.R. Peroulis, who wastackled by Clay Hardt for a 2-yard los with 28 seconds to play to preserve thevictory.

Bobby Wade caught nine passes for a career-best 175 yards, including a47-yard touchdown play for the Wildcats. Andre Thurman caught nine passes for165 yards, both career highs, including a 44-yard touchdown.

Sean Keel kicked field goals of 21, 19 and 39 yards. He had a 52-yardattempt blocked by Utah's Zach Tune.

Both Utah touchdowns came after Arizona turnovers.

The Wildcats led 23-7 early in the third quarter, but the Utes (2-1) tookadvantage of an interception for a third-quarter touchdown, then Bryan Borresonkicked a career-long 53-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-17 with 4:51 toplay.

Johnson, who threw for a career-high 381 yards in the opener againstNorthern Arizona two weeks ago, completed 24 of 35 passes and had oneinterception.

The Utes (2-1) managed just 32 yards on the ground after averaging 334rushing in their first two games. Rice completed 18 of 38 passes for 172 yardsand two touchdowns.

Utah was without Marty Johnson, who ran for 410 yards in the Utes' first twogames but is out 4-to-6 weeks with a sprained knee. Johnson's replacement,Peroulis, gained 18 yards in nine attempts.

The Wildcats outgained Utah 263-70 in the first half but led only 13-7.

Fumbles cost Arizona an early scoring opportunity and set up Utah's lonefirst-half touchdown. Two Wildcats' drives stalled deep in Utes' territory andArizona had to settle for short field goals.

The Wildcats scored 10 quick points in the second half. Johnson connectedwith Thurman on a slant play for 44 yards and a touchdown to make it 20-7 just2:15 into the third quarter. Peroulis' fumble set up Keel's 39-yard field toput Arizona up 23-7 with 10:16 to go in the period.

Midway through the third quarter, Cody Weight picked off Johnson's pass andreturned it 25 yards to the Arizona 39. Rice threw 29 yards to Devin Houston,then 10 yards to Paris Jackson for the score to cut the lead to 23-14 with 5:56left in the third.

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