The Arizona Wildcats vowed to have more fun and play better defense under interim coach Tim Kish.
So far, they're 2-for-2.
Juron Criner caught three touchdown passes and the Wildcats forced a pair of turnovers on the way to a 48-12 win tonight over hapless UCLA tonight at Arizona Stadium. The win is Arizona's first over a Div. I-A team in 355 days, its first in the new Pac-12 Conference, and the first of Kish's career. The Wildcats' defensive coordinator was promoted when Mike Stoops was fired 10 days ago following 7 1/2 seasons on campus.
The Wildcats (2-5, 1-4) took the lead with a nationally televised flourish, scoring twice in the first 7 minutes 22 seconds to take a 14-point lead and tacking on four second-quarter touchdowns in front of 46,565 fans. They blitzed more frequently, leading to season-highs in sacks and fumble recoveries.
The UA was leading 42-7 with 4 seconds remaining in the first half when things got weird.
A streaker dressed as a referee tried to enter the Bruins' huddle. When he couldn't, the man dashed down the middle of the field, ripping off his clothes, before being tackled by authorities. As it happened, Arizona's Shaquille Richardson and UCLA's Taylor Embree started a bench-clearing brawl that took 2 uncomfortable minutes to settle. Richardson and Embree were ejected once order was restored, and the Wildcats went into the break with a 35-point lead. More suspensions are likely once league officials review tape of the incident.
John Bonano, the UA's newly minted kicker, made it 45-7 with a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter, and tacked on a 22-yarder in the fourth. Bonano was perfect on the night, connecting on all eight of his PATs and field goals.
Quarterback Nick Foles was stellar, completing 26 of 39 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, all to wide receiver Juron Criner. He was intercepted once. With Foles at the helm, the Wildcats gained 416 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes, with quarterback Nick Foles (242 passing yards, 3 TDs) leading the way. Criner caught eight passes for 77 yards and three scores in the first two quarters alone. The Wildcats' 42 points were a school record in Pac-10/12 conference play.
The Wildcats entered the game ranked 119th nationally in rushing offense and dead last - 120th - in quarterback sacks. They'll climb at least a few spots following tonight's game. Keola Antolin (eight carries, 77 yards) sparked a 226-yard rushing bonanza. The Wildcats sacked UCLA's Kevin Prince twice, nearly matching their season total (3) through six games.
The UA started hot, driving 80 yards on eight plays; when Foles hit Criner for a four-yard touchdown pass, it marked Arizona's first lead since Week 1. Carey capped Arizona's second drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
UCLA (3-4, 2-2) cut the lead to one score on their final drive of the quarter. Coach Rick Neuheisel called for an up-the-middle run on third and 2 from the UA's 13-yard line, but tailback Johnathan Franklin was stuffed for a loss of two yards. UCLA's offense stayed on the field for fourth down, and quarterback Kevin Prince found Franklin for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
But the Wildcats blanked the Bruins 28-0 in the second quarter. Criner caught touchdown passes of 7 and 25 yards, and Taimi Tutogi - once an afterthought at fullback - plunged in scores of 2 and 8 yards.