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Jenkins Vaults Arizona Into Top 10

October 4, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ Ortege Jenkins, a quarterback with a basketball background, has vaulted the unbeaten Arizona Wildcats into the No. 10 team in the nation.


``I just used my basketball talents to jump over those guys,″ he said.

Jenkins’ spectacular somersault _ over a trio of stunned Washington defenders _ into the end zone with four seconds left gave the Wildcats a 31-28 victory over the Huskies on Saturday night.

``I can’t believe that play,″ said Keith Smith, who alternates with Jenkins for coach Dick Tomey. ``That was the most athletic play I’ve ever seen.″

Jenkins’ 9-yard touchdown was simply amazing. He looked like a gymnast on the play.

Trailing 28-24, Arizona was third-and-goal at the Washington 9 with 12 seconds to go.

First, Jenkins desperately looked for a receivers but none was open. So, with precious seconds ticking off, he took off up the middle.

``It just opened up so big,″ he said. ``I just had to go for it.″

At the 2-yard line were Washington’s Marques Hairston, Brendan Jones and Lester Towns. Suddenly, Jenkins went airborne, over the would-be tacklers, landing on his feet for the winning TD with four seconds left.

The Husky Stadium crowd of 71,469 let out a collective groan.

``It’s the biggest win of my whole athletic career,″ said Jenkins, who played in 13 games with Arizona’s basketball team last season.

``He just skied,″ Tomey said. ``He has great leaping ability.″

The Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) are doing some leaping, too, moving up four places to No. 10 in The Associated Press college football poll. They’ll be in Tucson next Saturday night to face No. 3 UCLA (3-0) in a crucial Pac-10 game.

The Wildcats had a lot of motivation in Seattle, where they hadn’t won since 1988.

On Friday, senior cornerback Chris McAlister was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the Washington game because he took out a bank loan for $14,000 to buy some disability insurance.

The insurance and loan are legal. But the amount McAlister got was $3,000 over the cost of the insurance and NCAA officials said that was a no-no because the loan, granted because of his pro football prospects, gave him an unfair advantage.

``The team was devastated,″ Tomey said. ``We wanted to make him proud of us.″

``We all wanted to win this game for Chris,″ Smith said.

It was a particularly bitter defeat for the Huskies (2-2, 1-1), who were coming off a 55-7 loss at Nebraska. The loss knocked them out of the Top 25 this week.

Marques Tuiasosopo, a sophomore, came off the bench after left-handed quarterback Brock Huard left late in the first half with a badly bruised left shoulder.

Tuiasosopo passed 15 yards to Chris Juergens and then scored on a 2-point conversion run to give Washington a 28-21 lead.

The Huskies thought they had the game won with a 52-yard TD run by Tuiasosopo in the fourth period, but they were called for a illegal block on the play. Then Jim Skurski missed a 23-yard field goal attempt with 2:52 left.

Jenkins subsequently rallied the Wildcats to a 13-play, 80-yard drive for their winning touchdown.

Washington coach Jim Lambright promised to go looking for a replacement for Skurski, who also had a field goal and extra point blocked.

``We have a kicking game that needs a kicker,″ he said.

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