The Arizona Wildcats long ago swore to abide by coach Rich Rodriguez's "24-hour rule," a dictum that states that every win - and every loss - be forgotten within the span of a day.

Just this once, maybe the UA can allow itself to indulge. Why not two days to celebrate, or, in the name of fairness, one hour for each point the Wildcats scored? That would give them until sometime around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Arizona put together its most complete game in two seasons Saturday night, pummeling Washington 52-17 in front of 50,148 at Arizona Stadium.

The Wildcats pounded the Huskies, one run at a time. And when the visitors' undersized, exhausted defense sold out to stop the run, quarterback Matt Scott threw over the top for (four easy) scores.

The first Pac-12 victory of Rodriguez's career was as easy as it was unexpected. The UA posted 533 yards of total offense while calling more than twice as many rushing plays (49) as passes (22). Ka'Deem Carey led the charge, rushing 29 times for 172 yards and one touchdown. The Wildcats averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

In a season that's included an overtime win and two late losses, Saturday's blowout was a joyful thing. The UA improved to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in league play; the victory was the Wildcats' first since Sept. 15.

"We actually finished out this game," Carey said. "When you can finish a game like this against a good team like Washington, you can do nothing but celebrate."

The run-first, throw-later approach marked a change in philosophy. Arizona entered the game with more pass attempts (307) than runs (238) this season. The Wildcats attempted nearly three times as many throws (69) as rushes (34) in a loss to Stanford two weeks ago.

On Saturday, the Huskies (3-4, 1-3) offered little resistance to either. The Pac-12 Conference's worst run defense looked it against the Wildcats' spread-option offense.

And the visitors' momentum-shifting plays were too few - and too futile - to remember, or really matter.

UW's Travis Feeney intercepted Scott as the UA drove late in the first half, returning the pick all the way to the Wildcats' 3. Bishop Sankey then dove in for a 1-yard score with 13 seconds remaining, cutting Arizona's lead to 14 points.

Arizona received to start the second half, and Carey fumbled on the team's first play from scrimmage.

"Awful," Rodriguez said.

The Huskies recovered in Wildcats territory with a chance to make it a one-score game.

But Keith Price let the football - and any chance of a comeback - slip through his fingers. Washington's quarterback fumbled the ball away while evading a UA rush, and the Wildcats recovered.

Six plays later, Arizona's Austin Hill caught his second touchdown pass of the night. The Wildcats' defense made a stop on Washington's next possession, and star-crossed kick returner Richard Morrison returned the Huskies' punt 63 yards for a score.

Like that, the Wildcats led 45-17 - and Washington was cooked. Rodriguez called Morrison's return "a backbreaker."

"We hadn't come close to breaking one," he said. "We haven't come close to breaking one in practice."

Price's performance was uneven - and, frankly, odd. In a win-or-else game, the Huskies' junior quarterback completed 29 of 52 passes for just 256 yards. He was intercepted twice, fumbled once and was sacked four times by an injury-thinned UA front.

Scott outplayed him, completing 14 of 22 passes for 256 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

But most of the time, Scott was content to hand the ball off and - when necessary - block. The senior quarterback threw just five times in the second half.

"Any time we can do that and get outcome like this, it's fine with me," Scott said. "We were running the ball great, so I can't complain. I don't care about throwing the ball 50 times a game. As long as we're getting that 'W'" …

The blowout win began with a rare hot start.

David Richards caught a 27-yard touchdown pass Scott and John Bonano nailed a 24-yard field goal, giving the UA a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The hot start was critical for Arizona, which entered Saturday's game having been outscored 35-20 in the first quarter so far this season. The Wildcats' first three Pac-12 opponents - Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford - held the UA scoreless in the first quarters.

Saturday, it was Arizona that did the dominating.

"We needed a win," Rodriguez said. "Our guys have worked so hard, you want them to be able to enjoy it."

Up next

• What: USC at Arizona

• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Channel 9

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)