Nov. 6, 2004
By JIM COUR
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) - Cornerback Wilrey Fontenot returned a fumble 33 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Arizona gave first-year coach Mike Stoops his first Pac-10 victory, beating Washington 23-13 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (2-7, 1-5 Pac-10) ended a seven-game losing streak this season and shoved the Huskies (1-8, 0-6) into sole possession of last place in the conference with their fourth straight Pac-10 defeat.
Washington self destructed with four second-half turnovers after departing coach Keith Gilbertson took out starting quarterback Casey Paus and replaced him with sophomore Isaiah Stanback after one series in the second half. Gilbertson brought Paus back with his team trailing 23-13 in the fourth quarter and he threw an interception, too, giving the Huskies 44 turnovers this season. The Huskies didn't commit a turnover in the opening half, when they led 13-9.
Washington leads the nation in turnovers and the Pac-10 with 19 interceptions.
Stanback had a pass intercepted and lost a fumble, but the Huskies' most critical turnover was a fumble by Shelton Sampson that Fontenot returned for a touchdown with 4:10 left in the third quarter to put Arizona ahead 16-13. It was Arizona's first defensive touchdown of the season.
Stoops left the Oklahoma program, where his brother Bob is the head coach, to take the Arizona job that opened up when John Mackovic was fired five games into the 2003 season.
Stoops watched the Wildcats go ahead 23-13 with 39 seconds to go in the final period on a 13-yard run by Mike Bell after Stanback's pass was intercepted by linebacker Kirk Johnson at the Washington 40.
The Huskies announced Monday that Gilbertson will resign as the coach at the end of the season and his team played an inspired first half. Gilbertson has a 7-14 record in his two years as Washington's coach.
Washington came back to lead at halftime after falling behind 9-0 in the first 3:18. Richard Kovalcheck set up an Arizona touchdown on a 1-yard run by Bell by completing a flea-flicker pass for 50 yards to Syndric Steptoe to the Huskies 1. The 50-yard pass was Arizona's longest of the season.
Then defensive end Copeland Bryan blocked a punt by Sean Douglas out of the end zone for a Wildcats' safety.
A 57-yard pass from Paus to Sampson, the longest play by Washington this season, set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Sampson midway through the first quarter. Sampson took a dumpoff pass from Paus and scrambled up the left sideline. Sampson's TD was Washington's first touchdown in three weeks.
Evan Knudson kicked a 42-yard field goal in the final minute of the opening period and added a 34-yard field goal with 2:51 gone in the second quarter for Washington.
Arizona lost two touchdowns, one on a kickoff return and the other on a punt return, in the first half because of penalties. Steptoe lost two fumbles, one on a punt return.