UA gets its revenge

Ross, Cats erase horror of '08 loss as Foles stars in victory over Beavers
2009-09-27T00:00:00Z UA gets its revengeBy Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 27, 2009 12:00 am  • 

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Devin Ross' revenge was sweet. It was also brief.

The Arizona Wildcats' cornerback rushed off the field after intercepting Oregon State's Sean Canfield with 1 minute 33 seconds remaining in Saturday's 37-32 win over the Beavers only to be warned by defensive coordinator Mark Stoops that his work wasn't done.

Ross didn't need reminding.

That's the way it goes when you play Oregon State. Just when the Beavers seem down for the count, they chomp their way back into the game.

This time, however, Ross and the Wildcats showed their teeth.

Bolstered by an improbable safety and three consecutive sacks to end the game, the UA toppled Oregon State at Reser Stadium. The victory improved Arizona to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Pac-10 play heading into a much-needed bye week.

"We hung in there and made plays when we knew we were going to have to make plays," coach Mike Stoops said. "We earned it for 60 minutes; we made the plays we had to, and that was the difference in the game. We're decimated by injuries, but guys stepped up. That's the biggest difference on the team."

The Wildcats started Saturday's game without a half dozen starters, including left tackle Mike Diaz (concussion), wideout Bug Wright (torn knee ligaments) and defensive end Brooks Reed (ankle sprain).

Things got worse after kickoff: Tailback Nicolas Grigsby exited in the first quarter after spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder. His backup, Keola Antolin, exited in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.

The job of pulling off the road upset was left to backups and third-stringers.

They delivered. Freshman tailback Greg Nwoko rushed nine times for 44 yards and a touchdown in the first extended action of his career.

"We knew he had first-team talent," Mike Stoops said.

Wide receiver David Roberts, left out of the limelight for most of the past two seasons, led the team with five catches for 52 yards.

Quarterback Nick Foles, making the first start of his college career, was stupendous. The shaggy-haired slinger completed 25 of 34 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. He was not sacked or intercepted, showing poise that belied his inexperience.

Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said Foles "looked like he had done this before."

The quarterback called his first win "an amazing feeling."

"I grew up wanting to go into someone else's house and win a game like this," Foles said. "It's been a long time. I waited three years for this."

Foles gave the Wildcats a 21-17 lead in the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown dive, the capstone of a five-play, 47-yard drive. The Wildcats made it an 11-point game 4 1/2 minutes later, when Foles found Juron Criner for a 3-yard score. Foles appeared to put the game away when he found Terrell Turner for a 13-yard touchdown pass with eight minutes remaining, but the Beavers — resilient and persistent — proved tough to put away.

Canfield found Aaron Nichols for a 13-yard score with 4:09 remaining, cutting Arizona's lead to 3. Even after surrendering a safety with 25 seconds left, Oregon State (2-2) recovered an onside kick and had the ball, down five points, in their zone.

This time, Arizona made the plays. Sacks by Earl Mitchell and Ricky Elmore ended the game.

The Wildcats spilled onto the field, hugging and high-fiving, before retiring to the cramped locker room at nearby Gill Coliseum.

No player was happier than Ross. The senior cornerback was burned for a game-changing play in last year's loss to the Beavers; the memory continued to haunt him as the team prepared for this week's trip to Corvallis. Ross met with Mark Stoops this week to address his role on the team's defense, and "I explained to him, he's good enough to play with technique," Mark Stoops said.

Saturday, he showed it.

Ross walked to the team bus an hour after the game with a game ball under his arm and his mind eased.

His pick may have altered the trajectory of the Wildcats' season.

"Coming in, there was a lot of motivation," Ross said. "Last year, we came up short. It was good to get the interception and seal the game."


Arizona beat Oregon State on Saturday night despite injuries to eight of its best players:

• Backup tailback Keola Antolin missed the second half because of a leg injury.

• Starting left tackle Mike Diaz dressed but has a concussion.

• Starting right guard Vaughn Dotsy did not travel and has a concussion.

• Starting tailback Nicolas Grigsby left in first quarter with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.

• Starting tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery last week and will likely miss the rest of the season.

• Starting defensive end Brooks Reed traveled but did not dress because of a left ankle sprain.

• Starting wide receiver Bug Wright did not travel and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week.

• Starting wide receiver Delashaun Dean missed most of the second half with a thigh bruise and cramps.

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 8 4 0 0.667
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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