By now the coaches are pretty sure of what they have. They have seen their team go at it for three weeks and there won’t be many surprises. As such they were able to limit the action of some of the regulars and let some young players get extended work.
“We don’t need to see those guys play,” said head coach Mike Stoops. “We know what they can do.”
Mike Bell and Chris Henry did not play and Gilbert Harris was used sparingly. In their place true freshmen Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons got all but one carry.
Smith ran strong. He carried 14 times for 54 yards. He was strong up the middle and showed that he could really take a hit. The highlight of the evening for the young player was a five-yard score.
Longbons was solid as well. He gained 24 yards on nine carries.
Richard Kovalcheck started off shaky, but seemed to gain more confidence as the night wore on. He did complete his first two passes, but the first drive stalled. On his next drive he threw an interception. He forced the ball into coverage and Marcus Hollingsworth got a hand on it, tipping it to Lamon Means.
Kovalcheck finally got into a real rhythm and led the offense to a pair of touchdowns. The first was led by a strong running game. Smith rushed five times on the drive for 36 yards. His first carry went for 15. The drive finished on a four-yard scamper by wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Kovalcheck showed his nice touch when he hit B.J. Vickers for a 28-yard gain and then tossed a perfect pass to tight end Ryan Kilpatrick who gained 25-yards. With the ball at the 10-yard line, Kovalcheck handed off twice to Smith. The true freshman scored from five yards out on the second carry.
When Kovalcheck was not forcing things he was very effective. All told the Wildcat starter was 9-of-16 for 111 yards and the pick.
Adam Austin was also quite effective for the offense. The junior passer led the offense to two field goals, including the first score of the scrimmage. He passed for the most yardage of any Wildcat passer. For the night he was 5-of-9 for 125 yards. He had the night’s biggest play when he hit Thomas on a 46-yard bomb that could have gone for more had the ball not hung up in the air just a bit allowing defenders to converge on Thomas.
For the night Thomas had 107 yards on just four catches.
Willie Tuitama had one of his best outings. He was 8-10 for 68 yards, with one of his two incompletions being a dropped touchdown that was a nearly perfect toss in the endzone to B.J. Dennard who could not reel in the over the shoulder catch with a receiver draped on all over him.
Statistics (courtesy UA Media Relations)
Kovalcheck 9-16-1-111; Austin: 5-9-0-125; Tuitama: 8-10-0-68
RUSHING (24-82, 2 TD, – sacks not included)
X. Smith 14-54, TD; T. Longbons 9-24; M. Thomas 1-4, TD
M. Thomas 4-107, TD; A. Johnson 4-40; B.J. Vickers 2-46, R. Kilpatrick 2-30; Tr. Bell 2-20; R. Eidson 2-9; M. Jefferson 2-6; G. Rodriguez 1-15; M. Richards 1-10; A. Grant 1-9; B. Dennard 1-7; X. Smith 1-5
FIELD GOALS (2-3)
Folk: (2-2) 47, 22; Bondzio: (0-1) 46
C. Bryan 5, B. Lopez 5, S. Jones 5, D. McElroy 4, R. Palmer 4, A. Cason 3, M. Shelton 3, M. Johnson 3, M. Klyce 3, L. Dotson 2, L. Means 2, W. Fontenot 2, M. Beach 2, D. Patrick 2, L. Ball 2, Max Johnson 2, J. Samoy 2, Ortiz 2, D. Garcy 2, J. Parker 1, D. Brooks 1, M. Hollingsworth 1, B. Tatum 1, G. Fields 1, P. Phillip 1, Y. Barnett 1, A. McCovey 1
C. Bryan 3, Shelton 1, Fields 1
TACKLES FOR LOSS (4):
Lopez, Fields, Beach
PASSES BROKEN UP (2):
Baugher 3-152, ave: 50.7