Wildcats Fall In Pac-10 Opener

Sept 30, 2001

AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Dave Minnich ran for three touchdowns and caught ascoring pass as Washington State beat Arizona 48-21 on Saturday night for itsfirst 4-0 start since 1997.

The Cougars avenged last year's triple-overtime loss in Tucson to improve to2-0 in the Pacific-10.

That 53-47 victory was the last of 2000 for the Wildcats (3-1, 0-1), whosefive-game skid at the end convinced coach Dick Tomey to resign. All five losseswere against conference foes, and the bruising by Washington State extendedArizona's Pac-10 losing streak to six.

Three of the last four games between them were decided in overtime or on thefinal play, but this one was over quickly as Washington State followed up onits three first-half interceptions by sacking Jason Johnson four times in thesecond half.

Minnich, who had 121 yards on 30 carries, scored on 8-, 6- and 2-yard runsand a 29-yard pass from Jason Gesser.

But his biggest play might have been a non-scoring carry in the secondquarter.

Arizona, stunned by Washington State's 28-point onslaught in little morethan half of the first quarter, recovered to trail 28-21 early in the second.After Gesser was sacked to set up a second-and-21 play, Minnich burst up themiddle for 27 yards on a draw play.

Revived, Gesser got back in sync and led an 87-yard, 18-play march thatMinnich capped with his 6-yard run to lift Washington State to a 35-21 halftimelead.

Gesser shredded Arizona for 283 yards and two TDs, completing 17 of 31passes with one interception and directing two 11-play scoring drives in thesecond half.

His scoring throws went to Minnich and Mike Bush (6 yards).

Lamont Thompson scored Washington State's first TD on a 36-yard interceptionreturn, and Dave Dunning kicked field goals of 24 and 49 yards.

Clarence Farmer scored on a 31-yard run, Austin Uku returned a fumble 2yards and Jason Johnson threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Bobby Wade to accountfor Arizona's scoring.

Thompson, who set Washington State's career record with his 15thinterception last week, turned No. 16 into six points when he veered to hisleft, picked up a block and tiptoed down the sideline with just 1:10 off theclock.

After a three-and-out by Arizona, Gesser started a 76-yard drive with a49-yard pass to Bush and finished it with a handoff to Minnich for an 8-yard TDrun 5:41 in.

Then the Cougars caught Arizona napping with an onside kick that Ira Davisrecovered on the Arizona 48, and scored in three plays - the last Minnich'spass-run after a catch in the flat.

The spree ended after James Price intercepted another Johnson throw andreturned it 21 yards to the Arizona 7. Three plays later, Bush caught his TD.

But Arizona's defense stiffened, contributing a defensive score as theWildcats fought back with three straight TDs before the Cougars' consistencystymied them.

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