‘Cats grounded

UA cornerback Trevin Wade (24) tries to break up a pass to Stanford wide receiver Ryan Whalen in a 24-23 Cardinal win on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. The UA is now tied for third in the Pacific 10 Conference.

UA cornerback Trevin Wade (24) tries to break up a pass to Stanford wide receiver Ryan Whalen in a 24-23 Cardinal win on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. The UA is now tied for third in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Brian Kimball

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Silence. Bowed heads. Expressionless faces.

That was the scene on the visitor’s sideline after a 24-23 Stanford win over Arizona Saturday at Stanford Stadium in front of an announced attendance of 30,689.

“”We just didn’t play good enough to win when you really look at everything that went on today,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”Whether it was offense, defense, special teams, really we got beat pretty good in all three phases.””

Stanford’s (4-3, 3-1 Pacific 10 Conference) relentless running game exposed weaknesses in the Wildcat’s defense, which had come in ranked No. 2 nationally. Junior Toby Gerhart and senior Anthony Kimble combined for 227 of the Cardinal’s 286 rushing yards of the day. The game-winning drive showed just how overpowered the Wildcats (4-2, 2-1) were.

After starting quarterback Tavita Pritchard left the game in the first half with a concussion, and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh pulled out backup Jason Forcier for a lack of production, third-stringer signal caller Alex Loukas started with the ball at his own 40-yard line.

Eleven plays later, the 6-foot-1, 232-pound Gerhart smashed his way into the endzone with 25 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Arizona responded with an incompletion on first down and quarterback Willie Tuitama was sacked on the next play. Running back Nic Grigsby then caught a pass for a five-yard gain on third down.

On the final play of the game, Arizona needed an 86-yard miracle, but wide out Mike Thomas lateraled the ball to offensive lineman James Tretheway. He tossed the ball to fellow lineman Joe Longacre, who was swiftly brought down by a herd of Cardinal defenders.

Arizona’s offense didn’t fare much better. The Wildcats were out-gained by 102 yards and only had three possessions in the first half. They ran 57 plays to the Cardinal’s 72 and Stanford saw the ball for nine minutes and 10 secondsmore than Arizona.

“”That’s hard for us because it’s important for us to play in a rhythm. We’re pretty good when we play in a rhythm, but that’s our own fault,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”We had two possessions where we go three-and-out. You can’t have that.””

Tuitama didn’t have a bad day – 22-of-34 for 259 yards and no interceptions – but he couldn’t score any touchdowns either. Three times the Wildcats were inside the Stanford 10-yard line, and three times they settled for a field goal.

The lone offensive touchdown came on a 25-yard run by Grigsby midway through the second quarter. Arizona’s other score came on a 75-yard pick six by senior safety Nate Ness about three minutes later.

The Wildcats came close to scoring twice, but both times a close play went in favor of Stanford. On one play, officials ruled that sophomore wide receiver Delashaun Dean didn’t have possession of the ball before his feet touched the endzone’s grass, and the other time Thomas was ruled out of bounds.

Not even a career day from junior wide out Terrell Turner, who had 10 catches for 175 yards, could save the Wildcats. In the end, Arizona couldn’t overcome all of the miscues on both sides of the ball to come out with a win.

“”I thought we would find a way to win. … I knew we were going to have to win ugly and that’s what we were trying to do,”” Dykes said. “”That’s what they make you do and we just didn’t get it done.””