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
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."
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