Sept 22, 2001
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Jason Johnson threw for three touchdowns, two to Bobby Wade, and Tremaine Cox scored on an 80-yard run Saturday night as Arizona beat winless UNLV 38-21.
The Wildcats rolled up 441 yards to improve to 3-0 under new coach John Mackovic.
Johnson completed 18 of 30 passes for 247 yards, including touchdowns of 14 and 15 yards to Wade and 12 yards to James Hugo. Johnson completed passes to nine receivers, eight in the first quarter alone, when he was 11-for-17 for 131 yards and two scores.
Cox, a redshirt freshman who played at Tucson High School, just a few blocks from the Arizona campus, gained 111 yards on eight carries.
The Wildcats led 31-7 after three quarters. Up to that time, the Rebels (0-3) had scored only on a 30-yard fumble return by Ahmad Briggs that briefly tied it at 7 with 8:03 left in the first quarter.
By halftime, the Wildcats led 24-7 and had a 333-96 advantage in total yards.
Arizona took the opening kickoff and scored on an 11-play, 61-yard drive. Johnson's 14-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Wade capped the drive.
The Wildcats' Clarence Farmer couldn't handle Johnson's pitch on an option play moments later. Briggs caught the ball on one bounce and ran untouched into the end zone to tie it at 7.
Sean Keel's 30-yard field goal try was blocked at the end of Arizona's next possession, but the Wildcats came back to score again the next time they had the ball. Arizona went 76 yards in nine plays, Johnson hitting the wide-open tight end Hugo over the middle for the touchdown that put the Wildcats ahead for good 14-7 with 8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Keel's 21-yard field goal made it 17-7, then Cox took a delayed handoff and raced up the middle untouched for an 80-yard score that put Arizona up 24-7 with 3:16 left in the half.
The Rebels' offense broke through in the fourth quarter. Jason Thomas' 40-yard pass to Troy Mason set up Joe Haro's 7-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 31-14 with 13:14 to play.
Arizona's final touchdown came when Thomas passed behind the line of scrimmage, a lateral that Mason couldn't catch, and Michael Jolivette scooped up the ball and ran 40 yards for the score with 11:25 remaining.
UNLV added a touchdown with 1:35 to play on a 15-yard pass from backup quarterback Kurt Nantkes to Bobby Nero.
With tightened security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the East, the Arizona marching band put on a patriotic halftime show that included the crowd joining in a rendition of "America the Beautiful."