Michael Penix Jr. passed for 363 yards and Washington recovered a late onside kick as the No. 7 Huskies held on to beat Arizona 31-24 on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
Arizona (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) got within 31-24 with 1:08 left when quarterback Noah Fifita, who was making his first career start in place of an injured Jayden de Laura, connected with Tetairoa McMillan for a 10-yard touchdown.
Washington (5-0, 2-0) handled the onside kick, taking over at the Arizona 44-yard line and gaining a first down to run out the clock.
Penix completed 30 of 40 passes with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Heisman candidate often settled for swing passes or other quick throws against an Arizona defense that was set up to prevent the big play. Washington, which was held to its lowest scoring total of the season, had only three pass plays of more than 20 yards.
Arizona was playing without its starting backfield as de Laura and tailback Michael Wiley were unavailable due to injuries suffered last week. Fifita was an efficient 27-of-39 passing for 232 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Washington was poised to deliver something of a knockout punch early in the fourth quarter after picking off a pass at the Arizona 45 when Fifita attempted an ill-advised flip throw while scrambling to avoid a sack.
The Huskies, up 31-17, drove to the Arizona 5, but the Wildcats knocked the ball loose from Germie Bernard and recovered with 9:56 to go. Fifita marched Arizona to the Washington 46 before the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs at the 4:26 mark.
Washington’s Dillon Johnson rushed for 91 yards and two scores on 16 attempts. Bernard posted team highs with eight receptions for 98 yards.
Initially quieting a sellout crowd of 50,782 at Arizona Stadium, Penix completed 10 of 11 passes in the first quarter, leading the Huskies on two easy touchdown drives for a 14-0 lead.
Arizona responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 8-yard scoring pass to Jacob Cowing to make it 14-7 with 9:31 left in the second quarter. The Huskies countered with another touchdown drive before the Wildcats added a 30-yard field with 23 seconds left in the first half to go into the break trailing 21-10.