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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats blast Bruins

    Arizona receiver Mike Thomas runs down the sideline for a 52-yard gain in a 31-10 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The Wildcats started the season 3-1 for the first time since 2002.
    Arizona receiver Mike Thomas runs down the sideline for a 52-yard gain in a 31-10 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The Wildcats started the season 3-1 for the first time since 2002.

    Arizona 31, UCLA 10

    PASADENA, Calif. – It might not have been the actual Rose Bowl game, but everything came up roses for Arizona during its 31-10 win Saturday over UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

    The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 Pacific 10 Conference) overcame their awful field position early – two of their first three drives started inside their 5-yard line – and rode wide receiver Mike Thomas’ big play ability to beat UCLA (1-2, 0-1) in a game Arizona could possibly have won by much more.

    Thomas recorded 257 all-purpose yards in the game – 146 yards in the first half alone. In all, Thomas tallied 17 yards rushing, 115 receiving yards, 18 yards on kick returns and another 107 yards on punt returns, but was held out of the endzone.

    A big chunk of that came on Arizona’s second longest play from scrimmage this year, as Thomas hauled in a short pass from quarterback Willie Tuitama and scampered down the Arizona sideline before being taken down at the 5-yard line for a 52-yard gain.

    “”I just come out and try to do what I can do to help my team get better,”” Thomas said. “”That’s what I do, whether it’s running the ball, catching it, I’ll do that.””

    Another huge lift for the Wildcats was the return of starting tight end Rob Gronkowski, who sat out the first three games with mononucleosis. Gronkowski, a sophomore, snagged touchdowns on his first two touches of the season – a 22-yard toss from quarterback Willie Tuitama in the second quarter and a two-yard score in the fourth quarter.

    “”I was feeling good. Just a little out of shape,”” Gronkowski said. “”It’s pretty tough, but our defense gets us ready for it because the defense is really challenging during practice.””

    Tuitama looked much more composed this week than in last week’s loss to New Mexico, though his 16-for-29 for 222 yards and two-score performance might not show it. However, the zero turnovers do.

    “”It was just putting the past in the past,”” Tuitama said of his relaxed demeanor during the game. “”You can’t carry things over from games in the past. Just go out there and focus, make sure I see the field and get us in good plays.””

    The Arizona defense left its troubles from last week behind as it held UCLA without an offensive touchdown. The Bruins’ only touchdown came on a Nic Grigsby fumble – his second in as many games – which was returned one yard for a score by UCLA linebacker Korey Bosworth.

    The Wildcats gave up 115 yards rushing on 28 UCLA attempts, a dramatic improvement for the Bruins, who entered the contest with just 38 total yards rushing after their first two games.

    “”(I’m h)appy with the (defensive) effort,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”We just executed the defense.””

    Nothing came easily for the Bruins outside of the one-yard touchdown return. UCLA gained 196 total yards on offense and had only 81 yards passing. The closest the Bruins got to the Wildcats’ endzone was just before halftime, but UCLA only managed a 35-yard field goal and never threatened again.

    “”It was good to see our team overcome that kind of start on the road,”” said UA head coach Stoops. “”It’s something that we’ve struggled with in the past, but our kids just had a focus about them today, and intensity, that they came here to win.””

    Late hits

    UA starting center Blake Kerley could miss the remainder of the season with what Mike Stoops thinks is a strained MCL in Kerley’s left knee. … Starting left tackle Eben Britton left the game due to dehydration, but received an IV at halftime and Mike Stoops said Britton will be OK. … Former UA basketball star Steve Kerr was in attendance. … Arizona was scoreless in the third quarter, making it the first time this season the Wildcats failed to score in an entire quarter. … Arizona was 17-for-17 in scoring in the red zone entering the game, but after failing twice, the Wildcats are no longer perfect in the red zone this year.

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