Sept 30, 2001
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Dave Minnich ran for three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass as Washington State beat Arizona 48-21 on Saturday night for its first 4-0 start since 1997.
The Cougars avenged last year's triple-overtime loss in Tucson to improve to 2-0 in the Pacific-10.
That 53-47 victory was the last of 2000 for the Wildcats (3-1, 0-1), whose five-game skid at the end convinced coach Dick Tomey to resign. All five losses were against conference foes, and the bruising by Washington State extended Arizona's Pac-10 losing streak to six.
Three of the last four games between them were decided in overtime or on the final play, but this one was over quickly as Washington State followed up on its three first-half interceptions by sacking Jason Johnson four times in the second half.
Minnich, who had 121 yards on 30 carries, scored on 8-, 6- and 2-yard runs and a 29-yard pass from Jason Gesser.
But his biggest play might have been a non-scoring carry in the second quarter.
Arizona, stunned by Washington State's 28-point onslaught in little more than half of the first quarter, recovered to trail 28-21 early in the second. After Gesser was sacked to set up a second-and-21 play, Minnich burst up the middle for 27 yards on a draw play.
Revived, Gesser got back in sync and led an 87-yard, 18-play march that Minnich capped with his 6-yard run to lift Washington State to a 35-21 halftime lead.
Gesser shredded Arizona for 283 yards and two TDs, completing 17 of 31 passes with one interception and directing two 11-play scoring drives in the second half.
His scoring throws went to Minnich and Mike Bush (6 yards).
Lamont Thompson scored Washington State's first TD on a 36-yard interception return, and Dave Dunning kicked field goals of 24 and 49 yards.
Clarence Farmer scored on a 31-yard run, Austin Uku returned a fumble 2 yards and Jason Johnson threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Bobby Wade to account for Arizona's scoring.
Thompson, who set Washington State's career record with his 15th interception last week, turned No. 16 into six points when he veered to his left, picked up a block and tiptoed down the sideline with just 1:10 off the clock.
After a three-and-out by Arizona, Gesser started a 76-yard drive with a 49-yard pass to Bush and finished it with a handoff to Minnich for an 8-yard TD run 5:41 in.
Then the Cougars caught Arizona napping with an onside kick that Ira Davis recovered on the Arizona 48, and scored in three plays - the last Minnich's pass-run after a catch in the flat.
The spree ended after James Price intercepted another Johnson throw and returned it 21 yards to the Arizona 7. Three plays later, Bush caught his TD.
But Arizona's defense stiffened, contributing a defensive score as the Wildcats fought back with three straight TDs before the Cougars' consistency stymied them.