Offense Struggles, Cougars Lose

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A tough defense was good enough for Arizona in the season opener, just barely.

Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal with one second to play to give Arizona a 16-13 victory Saturday night over Brigham Young.

"It stayed right," Folk said. "I kind of leaned with it, and it just snuck in there. I was playing with fire a little bit, but it went in."

Folk, who missed a 42-yarder as the first half ended, also had field goals of 30 and 22 yards in a mistake-filled, defensive struggle in front of 58,450 fans, the ninth-largest crowd in Arizona Stadium history and first home sellout since the season opener against Ohio State six years ago.

The Wildcats, in their third season under coach Mike Stoops, are seeking their first winning season since 1998.

"That was one of the best games we've played defensively," Stoops said, "and to do it against a team like that was very special."

On offense, though, it was a different story. Arizona managed only 186 yards, to the Cougars' 289.

"Our offense was stagnant," Stoops said. "We didn't (have) a good feel, a good rhythm, for whatever reason."

BYU's John Beck completed 28 of 37 passes for 289 yards, but the usually high-scoring Cougars' offense could manage just one touchdown, a 5-yard pass to Daniel Coats in the second quarter.

Jared McLaughlin kicked field goals of 20 and 32 yards, but the Cougars botched a third field-goal attempt.

"We were able to move the ball up and down the field," Beck said. "We were able to get in the red zone, but we needed to get touchdowns, not field goals."

BYU also had a touchdown called back by an offensive pass interference call.

"We made too many mistakes to win the game," Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Of the numerous calls, or in some cases non-calls, that went against the Cougars, Mendenhall would only say, "I'm sure they did the best they could."

Arizona rushed for 67 yards on 24 carries, 54 of them on one play.

Chris Henry, who had three yards in six carries up to that time, broke free on a 54-yard run, and Willie Tuitama threw two yards on third-and-goal to Anthony Johnson for a touchdown to give Arizona its first lead, 13-10, with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

BYU took the kickoff and drove to the Arizona 5, and on fourth-and-one, the Cougars went for the tying field goal. Jason Beck bobbled the snap and was smothered by defenders.

The Cougars held up on defense, and Jared McLaughlin's 32-yard field goal tied it at 13-13 with 5:23 to play.

The Wildcats took the subsequent kickoff and went from their own 25 to the BYU 29. Syndric Steptoe reversed field after a short pass for an 11-yard gain. Two running plays lost yardage, then Tuitama used a sneak to set up the game-winning field goal.

Both teams were hurt by penalties. BYU was penalized 10 times for 76 yards, Arizona eight for 61.

BYU turned it over on the game's first play from scrimmage when John Beck threw to John Harline, who fumbled and Arizona's Spencer Larsen recovered at the Cougars' 33. Arizona drove to the 10, then Folk's 30-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 11:52 to play in the opening quarter.

"We gave them a field goal right there at the beginning of the game," Beck said, "and three points was the difference tonight."

BYU's touchdown was set up by a pair of superb punts by Derek McLaughlin, the first going 66 yards to the Arizona 5. After an exchange of possessions, a 40-yard punt went out at the Wildcats' 2.

The Cougars held, then got the ball on the Arizona 34. Beck's 20-yard pass to Michael Reed set up his 5-yard scoring pass to Coats and BYU led 7-3 in the first quarter.

Tuitama's 47-yard pass to Steptoe was the big play as the Wildcats moved to the BYU 4 late in the first quarter, but again the drive stalled, and Folk's 22-yard field goal made it 7-6.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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