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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Road woes in Berkeley

Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

BERKELEY, CALIF. — It was déjà vu all over again for the Arizona football team.

For the second time during the 2009 season, the Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Pacific 10 Conference) suffered a heartbreaking road loss in league play in the final minutes of the game. On Senior Night for the Golden Bears, California (7-3, 4-3) downed the then-No. 18 Wildcats in a 24-16 contest Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. And just like the 36-33 UA loss to Washington on Oct. 10, it was another improbable play late in the game that cost Arizona dearly.

Trailing 18-16, the Wildcats faced a 3rd-down-and-3 play from the Cal 25-yard line with less than two minutes left in game. Arizona tried to pass for a first down, but redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Foles’ pass was batted down by a Cal defensive lineman. Foles caught the deflection and passed the ball again — which he completed to wide receiver Delashaun Dean for a first down — but the second forward pass of the play resulted in a penalty and pushed Arizona out of field goal range.

“”One of the rules from day one for quarterbacks is never to catch a batted pass,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”I think he was just trying to make a play down the stretch and it just bit us in the rear end.””

After the Wildcats failed to convert on the ensuing 4th-down-and-18 play — the 5-yard infraction was marked off from the spot of the illegal forward pass — Cal running back Shane Vereen scampered 61 yards for a touchdown and sent the announced attendance of 53,347 into a frenzy. Cal botched the extra point try, giving the Wildcats hope for a comeback, but in the end Arizona couldn’t overcome its own mistakes.

“”Nothing’s easy, and we’re the type of team where we have to do things right. We missed some opportunities and that’s really the disappointing part,”” a visibly frustrated UA head coach Mike Stoops said after the game. “”We just didn’t execute very well. You have to play a complete game to win. It was a tough game, and we just didn’t play well all the way through.””

Arizona started the game on defense and seemed uninspired as the Bears drove for a field goal on their opening possession and Arizona’s troubles wouldn’t end there. Despite forcing two turnovers — interceptions deep in UA territory by safeties Joe Perkins and Cam Nelson in the third quarter — the Wildcats allowed 357 yards to a methodical Bears’ offense and couldn’t clamp down in crunch time.

“”I think everybody was too worried about what Stanford and USC and the other guys were doing this week instead of focusing on ourselves,”” Nelson said. “”I feel like that’s why we came out flat, so at this point I’m back at the same square one as last week.

“” … We were so excited to be ranked and finally have something going, that we lost track of what we were really going after”” he added.

While the UA’s loss to the Golden Bears on Saturday night put a serious dent in the team’s Rose Bowl aspirations, Arizona can still earn a share of the Pac-10 title by winning all three of its remaining games. ESPN’s “”College Game Day”” took notice as the network announced the show will broadcast the weekly Saturday pre-game show live from the UA campus this weekend.

But for Arizona, all of its focus will be Saturday night’s game against Pac-10 leaders No. 11 Oregon at Arizona Stadium and not the hoopla surrounding the tight conference race the Wildcats find themselves in the thick of.

“”We’ve just got to take our lumps and bruises and learn from this game and come out and get better and come back Monday ready to work,”” Dean said. “” … If we win out we’re still in a great position to go to the Rose Bowl or where we might go. But it starts with Oregon, so we’ve got to come back on Monday and get back to work.””

 

Impact Players of the Game

Arizona

RB, 2, Keola Antolin — 19 carries for 78 yards and 1 TD, 3 catches for 14 yards

QB, 8, Nick Foles — 25-of-41 for 201 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception

DT, 49, Earl Mitchell — 9 tackles, 3 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 quarterback hit

Cal

RB, 34, Shane Vereen — 30 carries for 159 yards and 1 TD, 1 catch for 10 yards

DE, 97, Jordan Cameron — 7 tackles, 2 solo tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss

PK, 40, Giorgio Tavecchio — 4-for-5 on field goals, made (46, 22, 46, 22) missed (47)

Key Stats of the Game

Total Offensive Yards — UA 274, Cal 357

Rushing Yards — UA 73, Cal 176

Penalties — UA 8 for 65 yards, Cal 6 for 75 yards

4th-down Conversions — UA 0-for-2, Cal 0-for-0

Possessions Starting in Opponent’s Territory — UA 0, Cal 5

Scoring Drives — UA 3, Cal 6

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