Mike Stoops struggled through a difficult first year as coach at Arizona. He's 1-0, however, in the game that matters most.
Redshirt freshman Richard Kovalcheck threw three touchdown passes -- two to Mike Jefferson -- and the Wildcats turned five takeaways into 24 points to stun 18th-ranked Arizona State, 34-27, on Friday.
"Finally, we showed we can do something offensively," said Stoops, who was his brother Bob's co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. "We attacked in a lot of ways."
Andrew Walter, the Sun Devils' record-breaking senior quarterback, left the game with an injury to his right shoulder with 7:30 remaining and his team trailing, 34-20.
"His right shoulder was driven into the ground," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "It's a shoulder separation of some sort, but I don't know the degree."
Mike Bell rushed for 139 yards on 21 carries for the Wildcats (3-8 overall, 2-6 in the Pacific-10 Conference), who averaged 13 points per game going into the contest -- last among 117 Division I-A teams. The victory snapped an 18-game losing streak against ranked teams for Arizona.
"They kind of underestimated us, thinking we were a team that was going downhill," Bell said. "But we always kept fighting. Coach (Stoops) kept us positive. No matter what the situation was, we were going down fighting."
Arizona State (8-3, 5-3) lost four fumbles and had one interception to help Arizona reach a season-high point total.
"It's a no-brainer," Koetter said. "You're not going to beat anybody turning it over five times."
The loss probably won't affect Arizona State's chances for the Holiday Bowl, said Larry Baber, a bowl representative. The Sun Devils are expected to receive the invitation if No. 1 Southern California plays in the Orange Bowl and No. 4 California in the Rose Bowl.