PULLMAN, Wash. - Their paths crossed in an instant, the Arizona Wildcats' injured starter greeting his eager backup with a slap to the helmet.
"Go get 'em," Nick Foles told Matt Scott.
It beats "Don't screw up."
Playing the role of caretaker while the Wildcats' starter stood on the sideline in street clothes, Scott delivered. The speedy junior completed 14 of 20 passes for 139 yards and Arizona's defense forced four turnovers as the 17th-ranked Wildcats outlasted Washington State 24-7 Saturday night at Martin Stadium.
The win improves Arizona to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-10; only the UA's 1993 team started better.
Saturday's victory was sullied by news that Foles, who left the game in the second quarter with what appeared to be a dislocated right kneecap, will miss at least the next two games.
Coach Mike Stoops said Foles would miss "probably two to three weeks" with what he said was a knee sprain, but offered few other details.
"I'm not going to get into the severity of the injury," he said.
Foles was injured with 14 minutes remaining in the first half; he had just released a pass to Travis Cobb when Washington State defensive end Travis Long rolled over his right leg. Foles grabbed at his knee before he hit the ground, and stayed there for four long minutes.
Foles, per team policy, was not made available to the media following Saturday's game. Scott said that, as bad as the injury looked, "I knew it had to be something." Scott visited Foles on his way to the field, but otherwise kept his distance.
"Nick's never really been down like that before," Scott said. "He's a tough guy. He's a competitor. I knew if he was down like that, it had to be something serious."
By then, the Wildcats were ahead 7-0 behind a rushing attack that gouged WSU for large chunks at a time. Running backs Keola Antolin and Nicolas Grigsby accounted for all three of Arizona's touchdowns, and finished with 158 combined yards. Scott completed nearly three-quarters of his pass attempts but couldn't find the end zone.
Antolin gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with a 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Antolin's dash - he cut right and tiptoed along the sideline before reaching the end zone - capped a six-play, 44-yard drive.
The Wildcats drove 95 yards on their first possession of the second quarter, with Scott finishing it after Foles got hurt. Antolin scored his second touchdown, on a 1-yard dive, to make it 14-0.
The Wildcats put the game away in the third quarter following a Washington State mistake.
Cougars punter Reid Forrest mishandled a snap as he attempted to kick from deep in the Cougars' zone, and the UA's Khyri Knowles recovered it at the 7-yard line. Grigsby plunged in for a touchdown on Arizona's first play, making it a three-score game.
"We wanted to come out and establish the run game," said Antolin, who finished with a game-high 92 yards on 21 attempts. "That's what we wanted to do. That's what we did."
The Wildcats defense responded with Foles out, limiting the Cougars to just 297 yards of total offense. Arizona forced four turnovers; freshman cornerback Shaquille Richardson, making his first career start for the injured Trevin Wade, had two of them. The Cougars scored just once, when quarterback Jeff Tuel hit receiver Marquess Wilson for a 23-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
"I thought their defense was very good," WSU coach Paul Wulff said. "Obviously, we could never get into rhythm and we didn't do a good job defensively of getting three-and-outs."
The Wildcats, likewise, must do a better job of contouring their offense to fit Scott's personality. Arizona's coaches will meet today to design a game plan that plays to the new quarterback's speed while removing many of the deep plays that were Foles' forte.
Scott said late Saturday he isn't sure how the offense will change heading into games against Washington and UCLA. He would be smart to stay quiet.
Arizona is already without its best player; there's no reason to lose the element of surprise, too.
"We're going to wait until next week," Scott said with a smile, "and we're going to see what happens."
• Who: Washington at Arizona
• When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)