4:05 PM ET, October 29, 2005
Reser Stadium, CORVALLIS, OR
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) -- Arizona coach Mike Stoops put his faith in a true freshman and Willie Tuitama delivered.
Tuitama threw for 335 yards in his first career start and Arizona won its first Pac-10 game of the season with a 29-27 victory over Oregon State on Saturday.
"He's way beyond his years," Stoops said of Tuitama. "He has a great feel for the game."
Matt Moore threw for 436 yards for the Beavers, but had six interceptions and a fumble as Oregon State lost to the Wildcats at home for the first time since 1998.
Michael Thomas, another freshman, had 162 yards receiving and Anthony Johnson added 117 for Arizona (2-6, 1-3 Pacific-10). The Wildcats built a 23-10 halftime lead after a 40-yard interception return TD by Michael Johnson and a 75-yard TD pass from Tuitama to Thomas.
Mike Hass had 11 catches for 190 yards for the Beavers (4-4, 2-3), passing James Newson (2000-03) to become Oregon State's all-time leader in receiving yards.
Yvenson Bernard ran for 192 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 12 TDs on the season for Oregon State.
The Beavers were often their own worst enemy -- four of Moore's six interceptions came while in Arizona territory and Oregon State was penalized for 106 yards.
Moore completed 32 of 43 passes, but had four interceptions in the first half. He settled down in the second half, leading the Beavers on consecutive scoring drives in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 29-27.
But after the Beavers drove to Arizona's 24, Johnathan Turner stripped the ball from Moore and the Wildcats recovered.
The Oregon State defense forced Arizona three-and-out on consecutive drives, but Moore threw two more interceptions, one coming on the last play of the game.
"Everyone has bad days like this and you never want to have one, but it happens," Moore said. "They caught us in bad positions and we didn't take advantage of our opportunities."
Tuitama, who completed 13 of 22 passes, played for the first time last week against Oregon, coming into the game in the third quarter to replace Richard Kovalcheck.
Oregon State had planned to pressure Tuitama, forcing him out of the pocket and into quick decisions, but he stayed cool against the pressure, delivering several completions while on the run.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Tuitama said. "I went out there calm and the whole offense was."
The Beavers had beaten Arizona six straight times, but have been vulnerable against the deep ball. Tuitama exploited the weakness, completing five passes over 35 yards.
"We didn't exactly make it hard for him, leaving guys wide open," said Oregon State linebacker Trent Bray.
Moore, a junior transfer from UCLA, has thrown 16 interceptions to just four touchdowns in Pac-10 play. He ended up one pick short of tying the school record, set by Erik Wilhelm in 1987.
Rebuilding Arizona hasn't been a quick fix for Stoops, who is 5-14 since taking over the moribund program last season.
But the Wildcats have played close Pac-10 games this season and appeared on the verge of turning the corner.
"We've played well and lost, and it's not a good feeling," Stoops said. "But we persevered and it paid off in the end."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-12||2-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||2-3|
|FG||12:10||ALEXIS SERNA 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 69 yards.
|TD||5:23||GILBERT HARRIS 1 YD RUN (NICHOLAS FOLK KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||3:55||MICHAEL JOHNSON 40 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (MISSED KICK)||13||3|
|TD||9:29||YVENSON BERNARD 5 YD RUN (ALEXIS SERNA KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||7:51||MICHAEL THOMAS 75 YD PASS FROM WILLIE TUITAMA (NICHOLAS FOLK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||1:22||NICHOLAS FOLK 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||4:51||YVENSON BERNARD 2 YD RUN (ALEXIS SERNA KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 86 yards.
|TD||2:08||ANTHONY JOHNSON 18 YD PASS FROM WILLIE TUITAMA (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 76 yards.
|FG||13:40||ALEXIS SERNA 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||9:04||ANTHONY WHEAT-BROWN 11 YD PASS FROM MATT MOORE (ALEXIS SERNA KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 54 yards.