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Cats' All-Around Game Tops No. 25 Cougs
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/05/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) -Chris Henry was the finisher for Arizona. The rest of the team put together a solid game to give the Cats a sunny feeling on a rainy day.

The junior running back ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns on a school-record 35 carries and the Wildcats upset No. 25 Washington State 27-17 on Saturday.

``I thought Chris ran exceptionally well, really protected the ball and got us some tough yards in there,'' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. ``The most pleasing thing was when we got the ball back with five or six minutes left, to really grind out three first downs right at the end of the game. It was really good to see and that helped us finish off the game.''

Henry admitted being tired after the record-setting game, but praised his offensive line.

``Every running back thinks about having a game like this, where you help your team out and run the ball hard and carry your team to victory,'' he said. ``It gives us confidence because they're a good Washington State team who has been beating teams.''

Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-10) entered the game last in rushing in the conference, averaging 71.4 yards rushing per game. But Henry and Mike Thomas kept the ground game going at critical moments to give Arizona 116 yards rushing.

Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama returned after missing two games because of a concussion, completing 10-of-17 for 159 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.

Wildcats defenders helped set up one score by forcing a fumble and sacked Alex Brink four times.

``We went in trying to run the ball a little bit more,'' Stoops said. ``We wanted to shorten the game a little bit because they had been moving the ball pretty much at will on people.''

Washington State (6-4, 4-3) trailed 20-10 at the half and Brink was without his best receivers, Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus, who sat out the second half with ankle injuries.

Brink, the Pac-10 offensive player of the week after leading WSU to a 37-15 win over UCLA last week, completed 18-of-33 for 265 yards and a touchdown.

After climbing into the AP Top 25 college football poll for the first time since 2003, the Cougars experienced a letdown.

``We came out pretty flat. So many people have been telling us how great we are,'' Brink said. ``It took awhile for us to adjust. They're a great defense. We knew that coming in.''

WSU coach Bill Doba said he didn't think his team was overconfident, but just didn't play well.

``I don't know why, I just think they were not focused,'' he said. ``They had a good meeting in the locker room afterward. I think they will come out ready to play next week.''

The Wildcats struck quickly. On the third play from scrimmage, Tuitama connected with Anthony Johnson over the middle for a 78-yard scoring pass play.

WSU got even when Brandon Gibson got behind the Wildcats secondary and Brink hit him on a 91-yard pass play for a TD midway through the first quarter to make it 7-7. Gibson finished with five catches for 120 yards.

Romeen Abdollmohamadi's 37-yard field goal put WSU up 10-7.

Henry ran 3 yards to put Arizona up 14-10 to open the second quarter. Henry had a a 22-yard run on the drive and there was a 20-yard pass from Tuitama to Syndric Steptoe.

Nick Folk hit a 48-yard field goal to put Arizona up 17-10 after Brink fumbled and Paul Philipp recovered on the WSU 28.

Folk connected on a 37-yard field goal after WSU muffed a punt snap, putting Arizona up 20-10 at the half.

WSU was heading for a score when Dwight Tardy fumbled at the Arizona 5. Arizona's Spencer Larsen came up with the ball, but fumbled and Sean O'Connor got it back for the Cougars at the 7.

Jed Collins leaped over the pile to score from 1 yard out to put WSU within 20-17.

After Arizona sniffed out a trick play on a punt, Henry bulled in from 6 yards out to score with 2:16 left in the third quarter.

A seventh win would have assured Washington State a bowl invitation for the first time since the 2003 season, when the Cougars beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl and finished ninth. Arizona improved to 4-5 overall, its best victory total since 2001.

 

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