Monday, October 13, 2003
Wildcats edge closer to complete game
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Arizona Wildcats got everything they
wanted out of their game with UCLA -- except that elusive first
victory for interim coach Mike Hankwitz.
Arizona scored in the first half for the first time since its
season-opening rout of UTEP, more than doubled its total-offense
average with 519 yards and had an impressive running attack against
the Pac-10's best defense.
UCLA still won 24-21 on Saturday night, thanks to defensive
tackle Rodney Leisle's 55-yard interception return in the fourth
"The guys tried," said Hankwitz, who was John Mackovic's
defensive coordinator until Mackovic was fired Sept. 28. "You
can't fault effort -- we have to learn to channel effort."
Arizona (1-6, 0-3) lost its sixth in a row and 13th straight in
Pac-10 play at home, but may have found something to build on
during its open date this week.
"We've been meeting more as an offensive line," center Keoki
Fraser said. "We all just have been working hard and sticking
The Bruins (4-2, 2-0) stayed on track for the Rose Bowl with
their third straight win, rallying from a 21-10 halftime deficit on
a 5-yard run by Manuel White and Leisle's second TD in as many
Leisle recovered a fumble for a score in a comeback win at
Washington the previous week.
Tyler Ebell ran for UCLA's first TD, and Justin Medlock kicked a
32-yard field goal. But Medlock missed from 35 yards in the fourth
The Wildcats could have tied it, but Nick Folk pushed a 28-yard
attempt wide right with 5:29 remaining after Nic Costa set it up
with a 43-yard scramble.
"We get all the way down there and are not producing," Costa
said. "But we can't blame this loss on one play. It is a learning
experience. We're playing tough right now; we've been hanging with
Costa threw two short-range scoring passes to Matt Padron and
Clarence Farmer, and Kris Heavner had a 39-yard TD throw to Biren
The Wildcats threatened in two previous games -- a 13-10 overtime
loss to No. 16 TCU and a 30-7 defeat at No. 6 Washington State when
they played well early.
But youthful mistakes -- Heavner, a freshman, began starting
ahead of the sophomore Costa against TCU -- have hurt them,
including this loss. Heavner was 13-of-20 for 187 yards, but threw
"We know we had this game to win," wide receiver Ricky
Williams said. "The quarterbacks played well with the
two-quarterback system. Nic did a nice job. Kris is getting better
the more and more he plays."
As the running game improves, both quarterbacks should find more
time to let patterns develop. Farmer had 122 yards in 25 carries,
and Mike Bell had 94 in eight.
"They played really well," Leisle said. "We need to come out
to play that way next week (against California). It didn't puncture
our confidence, but I think it put a damper on our overall
performance. We're trying to set a standard."