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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona ends season on high note

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat

Arizona’s nightmare season ended on an upswing.

Nick Foles surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career, Bryson Beirne started for the first time in his five years at Arizona, Juron Criner set the school’s all-time mark for receiving touchdowns and the Wildcats outlasted Louisiana-Lafayette 45-37 on Saturday at Arizona Stadium to win their second consecutive game.

“To come out of here with two straight wins, that’s a nice feeling,” said interim head coach Tim Kish. “Nobody wrote the script for this season. But in the end, I think we can hold our heads high and walk away with a smile on our face.”

Beirne, who played the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL so senior quarterback Matt Scott could redshirt, got the start at Foles’ request.

“He deserved it,” Foles said. “He’s gone through so much, he’s such an amazing person. I told coach (Frank) Scelfo he deserves to start. When you’re a good person and you do the right thing, you deserve it.”

The redshirt senior from Honolulu completed four of his five pass attempts but threw an interception that the Ragin’ Cajuns used to march 60 yards in three plays to take an early 7-0 lead.

Louisiana-Lafayette recovered an onside kick and later used a fake punt to climb to a 13-7 lead, but that was the final time the Ragin’ Cajuns would lead in the game.

Foles took the reigns of the offense after Arizona’s first drive and threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns on 33-of-43 passing. The Wildcats (4-8, 2-7 Pac-12) took a 14-13 lead on Criner’s record-breaking 31st career touchdown catch and didn’t trail again the rest of the game.

Criner extended the record to 32 on a 33-yard score on a screen play that seemed to put the game away. Foles, a senior from Austin, Texas, tied the school record for career (64) and single-season touchdown passes (31).

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) never trailed by more than 15 and cut the Arizona lead to eight with 5:05 to play in the game. But Arizona went on a 10-play drive and picked up two first downs. The Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t get the ball back.

Arizona’s offense was sparked by running back Daniel Jenkins, who saw significant snaps in place of freshman Ka’Deem Carey, who suffered a concussion in practice during the week. Jenkins picked up 48 yards on five carries, returned a kickoff 81 yards to the ULL 2-yard line and caught four passes for 26 yards.

“I just wanted to try to go out there and bring energy to the team,” Jenkins said. “I tried to send the seniors out right, and I’m glad I was able to do that.”

Instead of wondering about the future and who was going to be the next coach of the program, Jenkins said that the announcement of Rich Rodriguez as Arizona’s next football coach helped the team focus more on football during the week.

“It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders when you know who the coach is going to be,” Jenkins said.

Louisiana-Lafayette tied an NCAA record with its seventh interception return for a touchdown on the season, which cut Arizona’s lead to eight with 13:47 to play in the game.

Ragin’ Cajun quarterback Blaine Gautier picked apart the Arizona secondary to the tune of 315 yards and a score, and also ran for 21 yards and another score.

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