Wildcats Rush Past UTEP

Aug 31, 2003

By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Mike Bell ran for 119 yards and a touchdown, leadingArizona's best rushing output in two years, and the new-look Wildcats routedTexas-El Paso 42-7 in their opener Saturday night.

Bell scored on an 11-yard run 8 seconds before halftime, giving the Wildcatsa 35-0 lead, and bolted 53 yards to set up Gilbert Harris' 2-yard scoring runwith 10:45 left in the third.

Clarence Farmer and Nic Costa also ran for TDs. Arizona's 217 yards rushingwas its best since a 258-yard effort against Oregon on Oct. 6, 2001.

Bell got his yardage in 13 attempts and less than three quarters.

Farmer, who led the Pac-10 in rushing in 2001 before a knee injury in thefourth game last year ended his season, had 20 yards on eight carries,including his 8-yard scoring run, before he was taken out for shoulder X-raysin the third.

Costa, a sophomore, passed for one TD and directed four scoring drives, andfreshman Ryan O'Hara threw a 79-yard scoring bomb to Lance Relford to helpdivert attention from Wildcats coach John Mackovic.

Mackovic weathered a player mutiny last year by apologizing for his allegedinsensitivity and promising to communicate better with his players.

In the aftermath of a 4-8 season, Mackovic replaced both coordinators andthree other position coaches and scrapped the Wildcats' traditional 5-2defensive front for a more flexible 3-4.

The new defense held the Miners to 275 yards. Arizona had four sacks andLamon Means intercepted a pass by Orlando Cruz and returned it 32 yards to setup Bell's TD.

The Miners didn't score until 14:49 left in the game, when Joe Fieskoskipicked off O'Hara's wobbly pass and took it 39 yards to the end zone. It wasthe game's final score, ruining the Wildcats' bid for their first shutout since1996.

Costa took the Wildcats 80 yards for scores on their first two possessions,sparking the first with a 27-yard run and capping it with a 41-yard throw toRicky Williams 1:09 in.

The next drive almost stalled, but Costa kept it alive with a short toss toSteve Fleming, who broke free from two tacklers for a 24-yard gain to the UTEP26.

Bell gained 18 yards on the next play, and Costa scored on a 1-yard run with8:15 left in the first quarter.

O'Hara had more trouble getting started, and the Wildcats wentthree-and-out. But the Miners' Jahmal Fenner fumbled the punt after a tackle byGary Love, and Arizona took over with 21 yards to cover.

Farmer made it 21-0 with his run with 3:20 remaining in the quarter.

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