Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Wildcats Hold Off Late Utah Surge To Win 23-17
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 14, 2002
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 14, 2002

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AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Jason Johnson threw for a career-high 416 yards, including touchdown passes of 47 and 44 yards, and Arizona barely held off Utah 23-17 on Saturday night.

The Wildcats (2-0) outgained Utah 459-204, but had to withstand a final drive to escape with the victory.

Utah moved from its 28 to the Arizona 3 in the final minutes and appeared to have scored a touchdown when Josh Lyman made a diving catch of Lance Rice's 12-yard pass in the back of the end zone, but the referee ruled his knee came down out of bounds.

On fourth-and-1 from the 3, Rice tossed a lateral to J.R. Peroulis, who was tackled by Clay Hardt for a 2-yard los with 28 seconds to play to preserve the victory.

Bobby Wade caught nine passes for a career-best 175 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown play for the Wildcats. Andre Thurman caught nine passes for 165 yards, both career highs, including a 44-yard touchdown.

Sean Keel kicked field goals of 21, 19 and 39 yards. He had a 52-yard attempt blocked by Utah's Zach Tune.

Both Utah touchdowns came after Arizona turnovers.

The Wildcats led 23-7 early in the third quarter, but the Utes (2-1) took advantage of an interception for a third-quarter touchdown, then Bryan Borreson kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-17 with 4:51 to play.

Johnson, who threw for a career-high 381 yards in the opener against Northern Arizona two weeks ago, completed 24 of 35 passes and had one interception.

The Utes (2-1) managed just 32 yards on the ground after averaging 334 rushing in their first two games. Rice completed 18 of 38 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Utah was without Marty Johnson, who ran for 410 yards in the Utes' first two games but is out 4-to-6 weeks with a sprained knee. Johnson's replacement, Peroulis, gained 18 yards in nine attempts.

The Wildcats outgained Utah 263-70 in the first half but led only 13-7.

Fumbles cost Arizona an early scoring opportunity and set up Utah's lone first-half touchdown. Two Wildcats' drives stalled deep in Utes' territory and Arizona had to settle for short field goals.

The Wildcats scored 10 quick points in the second half. Johnson connected with Thurman on a slant play for 44 yards and a touchdown to make it 20-7 just 2:15 into the third quarter. Peroulis' fumble set up Keel's 39-yard field to put Arizona up 23-7 with 10:16 to go in the period.

Midway through the third quarter, Cody Weight picked off Johnson's pass and returned it 25 yards to the Arizona 39. Rice threw 29 yards to Devin Houston, then 10 yards to Paris Jackson for the score to cut the lead to 23-14 with 5:56 left in the third.

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