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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football loses 28-26 heartbreaker to USC Trojans

Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona redshirt junior kicker Casey Skowron (41) walks off the field after missing a field goal during the last minute in the 4th quarter of Arizona’s 28-26 loss against USC at Arizona Stadium on Saturday.

Arizona football’s perfect season ended as the comeback Wildcats seemed to use up the last of their nine lives against the USC Trojans.

The No. 10 Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12 Conference) lost 28-26 at home to the Trojans as junior kicker Casey Skowron missed a 36-yard field goal with 12 seconds to go.

“We didn’t execute well,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said, “but we kept battling, played for 60 minutes and what I asked them to do — we just didn’t make the play at the end to win it.”

Skowron missed two field goals (48 and 36 yards), had a 34-yarder blocked and made 32- and 25-yard field goals. The blocked field goal came at the end of the first half.

“I told [Skowron] he was still my boy, and I still love him,” UA redshirt senior wide receiver Austin Hill said. “Kickers tend to feel that all the weight’s on them, when he should’ve never been in that situation in the first place.”

Arizona cut a 28-13 fourth-quarter deficit to two late in the quarter, but came up just short.

“You got to just keep believing,” UA redshirt senior safety Jared Tevis said. “We appreciated the fans, the ZonaZoo, all of Tucson believing in us and continuing to believe in us, [and] we never got down on ourselves for a second.”

USC called a time out to try and ice Skowron before the last kick, but Rodriguez said it didn’t matter.

“If nothing else, it lets you get your bearings back and ready to kick,” Rodriguez said.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said they study film to get the exact cadence of the snapper when asked about icing Skowron.

“Generally speaking, it is hard to make two kicks in a row, and I’d like to think there is some timing involved,” Sarkisian said. “He made the first two and missed both the of the seconds.”

UA redshirt senior running back Terris Jones-Grigsby started and ran for 32 yards on 12 carries in the first half. He left the game with an injury, and freshman Nick Wilson didn’t dress with an ankle injury.

Third-string running back and redshirt junior Jared Baker ran for a one-yard touchdown with 1:07 left to cut the Trojans’ (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) lead to two. After USC committed a pass interference on the first two-point conversion, Baker was stopped short of the end zone.

Baker ran the ball 12 times for 43 yards, and caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought he played all right,” Rodriguez said. “I got to watch the film to see what was our problem in the run game, but they didn’t run the ball well. I don’t know if it was blocking or how they played us or whatever.”

On the ensuing kickoff, UA redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones recovered an onside kick with a minute to go, giving the Wildcats a chance.

“You just got to make a play,” Jones said about onside kicks.

In six plays and 48 seconds, the UA drove to the USC 19-yard line for the potential game-winning field goal that ended up missing wide right.

Rodriguez said that if you finish drives with touchdowns and don’t fumble the ball deep in the red zone, then you don’t have to try onside kicks.

In 14 offensive drives, Arizona scored three touchdowns and made two field goals, missing three.

USC junior running back Javorius Allen ran for a career-high 205 yards and three touchdowns on 26 rushes for the Trojans.

“We didn’t tackle him very well,” Rodriguez said.

The Trojans out-rushed the Wildcats 239 yards to 77, the most Arizona has given up all season.

UA redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon was 43-for-72 passing for 395 yards and a touchdown. He ran for -7 yards on four carries.

“[Solomon] played pretty well,” Rodriguez said. “I mean, maybe he didn’t make a lot of plays in the first half, but you got to give them some credit, too. But for a redshirt freshman, in a big arena, I think Anu Solomon’s accounted for himself pretty well.”

Attendance was 56,754, the first sold out game at Arizona Stadium since 2012.

Up next for Arizona is a bye week before traveling to Washington State on Oct. 25.

“We’ll move on after 24 hours on this one,” Rodriguez said.


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