Arizona made some strides and continued to show it would fight to the end, but still couldn’t come up with enough big plays to beat Oregon State, as the Beavers took a 28-14 victory before a Homecoming crowd of 47,245 in Arizona Stadium Saturday evening.
UA (1-7, 0-5 in Pac-10 play) made a game of it with two late touchdowns, but spotted OSU (4-4, 3-2) a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Cats couldn’t take advantage of their edge in total offense because of several turnovers, two of which led directly to OSU touchdowns.
UA out-gained the Beavers in net yards, 331 to 310, and held OSU to 61 net yards rushing. But OSU’s 249 passing yards were enough spark to get the Beavers into the end zone four times.
Arizona missed an early scoring opportunity after Kirk Johnson caused a fumble that was recovered by Lamon Means on the OSU 39 yard-line early in the opening period. UA reached a first down at the OSU 19 and had 2nd-and-2 at the OSU 11 yard-line, but a false start penalty moved the Cats back and they couldn’t convert. Nick Folk’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right
The Beavers marched 80 yards down the field in eight plays and just over three minutes to take a 7-0 lead. Derek Anderson completed five of six passes for 77 yards, including a two-yard scoring throw to tight end Joe Newton.
After forcing a three-and-out by Arizona, the Beavers took the ball and Anderson fueled another quick drive, completing four of six passeds for 53 yards on the 56-yard drive. Ryan Cole rushed for the touchdown from two yards out and OSU was up 14-0 in the space of four minutes.
The score stood until six minutes into the third quarter, when UA running back Mike Bell dropped a handoff and gave OSU field position at the UA 23 yard-line. OSU’s Dwight Wright gained 17 yards on two carries, then Anderson hit Anthony Wheat-Brown for a six-yard touchdown play and it was 21-0.
But Arizona answered on its next possession. The Cats snapped a scoring drought of more than 103 minutes covering seven quarters with a 12-play, 77-yard drive taking seven minutes off the clock, with quarterback Richard Kovalcheck hitting wide receiver Biren Ealy for a 27-yard scoring play. Ealy juked a couple of would-be tacklers and dragged one into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Cats suffered a quick blow after stopping OSU on its next drive. UA punt returner Wilrey Fontenot was hit by Chaz Scott just as he fielded a high kick, and the Beavers’ Charles Burnley recovered the dropped ball at the UA 15 yard-line. OSU took only four plays to punch it in, with Anderson reaching the end zone on a scramble to the corner from one yard out.
UA took another 12-play drive, this one covering 62 yards, to cut the score to 28-14. A Kovalcheck throw of 25 yards to Ealy keyed the drive. Bell ran the ball in from one yard for the score. The Cats had a shot for another score late in the game after two big throws from Kovalcheck to Ealy and Ricky Williams, but Kovalcheck was picked off for a second time, at the OSU four yard-line by Mitch Meeuwson.
Kovalcheck completed 19 of 38 passes for 235 yards in his second career start. He suffered two interceptions.Anderson passed for 249 yards, completing 17 of 31 throws for 249 yards. He became the OSU all-time passing yardage and total offense leader.
Bell finished with 88 rushing yards on 21 carries, while Ealy led UA with four receptions for 102 yards, his second career 100-yard game.
Mike Hass had five catches for 93 yards and tight end Newton had six catches for 74 yards to lead the Beavers. OSU’s Wright had 69 yards rushing, more than the Beavers’ net, thanks to six tackles for losses by UA, including three by end Andre Torrey.