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Sunday, October 19, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Eafon Is Lone Beacon For Wildcats

Special To The Seattle Times

TUCSON, Ariz. - Judging solely from the 58-28 final score yesterday, it looked like things could not have been much worse for Arizona against Washington.

However, without backup tailback Kelvin Eafon, the Wildcats might not have scored at all.

In last week's victory over Stanford, starting tailback and leading rusher Trung Canidate went down with a severely sprained left ankle. While hope remained that Canidate would be able to play yesterday, the injury was too severe. Eafon, normally the starting fullback, started in Canidate's place and responded with a career game. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior carried 23 times for 140 yards and three of Arizona's four touchdowns.

Nonetheless, Eafon was displeased.

"It wasn't good enough if the team did not win," Eafon said. "I am a winner, and I want the team to win. I don't care if I only get 4 yards if we win. Then it would be enough."

Eafon gained 97 yards and scored one touchdown in limited action as a fullback last season.

Eafon, who originally came to Arizona to play basketball, has practiced this year as the starting fullback and second-string tailback.

"I didn't know what the situation would be this week," Eafon said. "I know that Trung is an extremely tough guy, so I thought that he might be able to play. But the coaches said that I would have to step up and play tailback, and I knew I could. I wanted to be a positive influence no matter where I played."

Eafon's performance, which nearly matched the 149 yards he accumulated over the first six games of the season, was the third best performance by an Arizona back this year. He gave much of the credit to his offensive line.

"The `O' line knocked a lot of people off the ball," he said. "All that I had to do was run through there. I was able to make some plays because of them. But there were some other plays that I did not make on my own."

Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said he was confident in Eafon's ability, but his biggest asset was spirit.

"If we could all play as hard and as tough as Kelvin Eafon, we would win every game we played," Tomey said. "Kelvin is such a warrior, such a competitor. He is a kind of symbol and competitor that we can all admire. I hope that players try to emulate him."

Eafon's presence in the huddle and on the sideline helped keep many Wildcats in the game.

"Kelvin was, and has been all year, this team's emotional leader," starting guard Yusuf Scott said. "We all knew that if Trung was out, it would not be a problem because we had Kelvin.

"He just gets in there and takes care of business. He tells you if you are doing something wrong, but he is quicker to tell you when you are doing something right."

Added quarterback Ortege Jenkins: "He played great considering the situation he was in. We could not have asked any more of him."

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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