10:15 PM ET, October 23, 2010
Arizona Stadium, TUCSON, AZ
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Seeing single coverage on his best receiver, Matt Scott took his eyes off the snap and dropped the ball. A defender bearing down, the junior scooped up the ball and, almost in one motion, heaved a perfectly placed pass into the end zone for a touchdown just before being buried in the turf.
Seems there was no need to worry in the desert because Arizona is in good hands, no matter how long Nick Foles is out.
Making his first start since a debacle against Iowa more than a year ago, Scott had no trouble replacing the quarterback who replaced him, leading the Wildcats (No. 18 BCS, No. 15 AP) to a 44-14 rout over up-and-down Washington on Saturday night.
"Coming off that Iowa game, everybody was real skeptical about what I could do as a quarterback," said Scott, who was replaced by Foles after going 4 of 14 for 50 yards with a critical interception against the Hawkeyes last season. "I think I proved it a little bit tonight."
Arizona (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) overcame occasionally poor tackling by harassing Jake Locker into a barely average night and running over the Huskies with a balanced offense for its best start since opening the 1998 season -- when it went 12-1 -- with the same record.
Scott keyed it.
The starter the first three games of 2009, he had patiently waited for his turn after watching Foles become a star in the role that was once his.
Scott held his own after Foles went down with a knee injury last week against Washington State and looked like he was the starter all along against the other Evergreen State school.
Adding a dimension Foles doesn't, Scott ran for 65 yards on seven carries, opening up passing lanes. The junior was good there, too, throwing for 233 yards and two touchdowns, including his fumble-the-snap, 21-yard heave to Juron Criner in the fourth quarter that had even his coach smiling.
• Arizona improved to 6-1 for the first time since finishing 12-1 in 1998.
• The Huskies have played four ranked teams this season, losing three and giving up an average of 41.3 points per game.
• Arizona running back Keola Antolin had his first 100-yard game of the season. He has five rushing touchdowns in the past three games.
• Arizona is allowing 13.4 points per game this season.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"Matt was not very skittish going into tonight," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "He was ready, focused and well prepared for the game."
Washington (3-4, 2-2) continued its season-long, win-one, lose-one pattern, following last week's thrilling double-overtime victory over then-No. 24 Oregon State with a defensive clunker.
The Huskies forced a fumble on Arizona's opening drive and followed with a touchdown, but couldn't keep Arizona out of the endzone or off Locker.
Coming off a career-best five touchdown game against the Beavers last week, Washington's one-time Heisman Trophy contender never found room to get his arm or legs going.
Arizona's 20-point second quarter forced the Huskies into catch-up mode and Locker couldn't rally them, finishing 17 of 29 for 183 yards with a touchdown. He also lost 24 yards on six carries before being replaced by Keith Price early in the fourth quarter due to lingering soreness in his bruised ribs.
"The mistakes were on everyone," said Locker, who played behind a retooled offensive line. "We didn't execute the way we needed to against a good football team."
The Wildcats had hoped to be on better footing than last year's game at Washington.
Arizona lost what's now known as the "Shoe" game in Seattle when Mason Foster returned an interception 37 yards for the go-ahead touchdown after the ball caromed off the size 14 1/2 cleat of Arizona's Delashaun Dean. The Wildcats disputed the call -- Dean said it hit the ground -- but were kicking themselves more for being in position to cough up a 12-point lead in the final four minutes.
Arizona made sure it didn't get tripped up by a close call this time by steamrolling Washington's noodle-strainer defense -- 199 points the past five games -- for 467 total yards.
The only question mark came early; Taimi Tutogi fumbled on Arizona's opening drive and Locker marched the Huskies for a quick score, rolling left and throwing across his body for a drop-it-in-there 26-yard touchdown to Jermaine Kearse in the corner of the endzone.
After that, all Arizona almost all the time.
Led by Scott, the Wildcats carved up Washington's 98th-ranked defense, piling up 356 total yards on their way to a 30-14 halftime lead.
Scott looked a lot like Locker on Arizona's first score, rolling left and throwing across his body for a 17-yard touchdown to David Roberts. Alex Zendejas followed with a 29-yard field goal and Scott used an option to rumble 32 yards and set up Antolin's first TD, a 1-yard dive left.
Washington answered with Chris Polk's 7-yard touchdown run, but the defense parted on the next play, allowing Antolin to burst up the middle for a 78-yard touchdown.
Grigsby then wrapped 4-yard touchdown runs around halftime -- the second after Ricky Elmore stripped Locker and the Wildcats recovered -- and Scott added his put-it-out-of-reach scoring pass to Criner early in the fourth quarter.
Next for Scott was a spot on the bench next to Foles to watch the closing minutes after finishing an efficient 18 of 22.
"I wasn't anticipating that at all," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said after Scott went 14 for 16 in the first half. "We had to remind ourselves that this guy started their first three games last year."
The Wildcats remember it, too, and now feel a whole lot better going into next week's game against UCLA -- whether Foles can play or not.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Keola Antolin ran wild in the second quarter, scoring two TDs in eight minutes to put the game out of reach.
Gameball goes to... Matt Scott, who filled in admirably for Nick Foles, scoring two TDs and completing 79 percent of his passes.
Stat of the game... 6-1. With the win over Washington, the Wildcats improve to 6-1, their best start since 1998.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-13||7-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-0|
|TD||11:33||Jermaine Kearse 26 Yd Pass From Jake Locker (Erik Folk Kick)||7||0|
|TD||09:20||David Roberts 17 Yd Pass From Matt Scott (Alex Zendejas Kick)||7||7|
|FG||04:42||Alex Zendejas 29 Yd||7||10|
|TD||10:48||Keola Antolin 1 Yd Run (Alex Zendejas Kick)||7||17|
|TD||07:55||Chris Polk 7 Yd Run (Erik Folk Kick)||14||17|
|TD||07:37||Keola Antolin 78 Yd Run (Alex Zendejas Kick)||14||24|
|TD||01:54||Nic Grigsby 4 Yd Run (Pat Failed)||14||30|
|TD||10:09||Nic Grigsby 4 Yd Run (Alex Zendejas Kick)||14||37|
|TD||11:09||Juron Criner 21 Yd Pass From Matt Scott (Alex Zendejas Kick)||14||44|