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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Cats keep it close, Trojans run away”

    For the second consecutive year, Arizona hung tough with a top-five team from the University of Southern California for three quarters. But for the second straight year, the Wildcats fell short in the fourth.

    Trojan running back Emmanuel Moody scored on a 9-yard run with 3:11 left in the final frame Saturday, sealing a 20-3 victory for No. 3 USC (3-0, 1-0 Pacific 10 Conference) over Arizona (2-2, 0-1) in front of 58,801 fans at Arizona Stadium, the 4th-largest crowd in Arizona history.

    “”We kept swinging right to the end with the No. 3 team in the country,”” UA wideout Syndric Steptoe said. “”We have to come back swinging harder next week.””

    Arizona had a chance to get back in the game late, down 13-3 with just over four minutes to play, but wideout Mike Thomas fumbled Greg Woidneck’s punt and USC recovered on Arizona’s 9-yard-line. Moody, who finished with 130 yards, dashed in a play later.

    Steptoe, Arizona’s usual returner, had injured his thigh earlier in the quarter, forcing Thomas to return the punt.

    “”That’s a learning curve for me, I should have let that one go,”” Thomas said of his first-career attempt at a punt return. “”It was a high kick, wobbling, and it kind of died on me at the end, but (Steptoe) and some other guys were like, ‘You’ve got to learn from that.'””

    A year ago, Arizona held tough with USC, trailing by just a touchdown at the end of three quarters, only to see the Trojans score 14 unanswered points to roll to a 42-21 win in Los Angeles.

    The Arizona offense struggled all night, going 2-of-12 on third down, and finished the game with negative rushing yards (-16) for the first time since a 2002 win over California.

    “”I thought we could have done more offensively,”” said quarterback Willie Tuitama, who finished with 170 yards and a pick on 14-of-23 passing. “”We needed to execute better.””

    The Arizona defense made it a point to shut down the Trojan passing attack early, and kept the USC offense at bay for much of the first half, allowing only Mario Danelo’s 35-yard field goal midway through the second quarter as Arizona trailed just 3-0 at halftime.

    “”It was a good effort,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said of his defense. “”I like the passion and effort that the kids played with.””

    But on the opening drive of the second half, USC marched 80 yards down the field in 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead after quarterback John David Booty hit wideout Dwayne Jarrett on a 3-yard strike in the right side of the end zone.

    The play came just two plays after a Booty-to-Steve Smith touchdown was reversed, after it was ruled that Smith did not have control of the ball as he fell out of bounds.

    Booty finished the game with 179 yards on 24-of-39 passing with a pick and the score.

    Arizona cut the Trojan lead to seven at the start of the fourth quarter behind Nick Folk’s 43-yard field goal. But that was as close as the Wildcats would get, as USC rattled off 10 unanswered points to close out the game.

    USC had a chance to add to its lead in the third quarte,r but Danelo’s 26-yard attempt was wide left.

    After a scoreless first quarter, Arizona had a chance to take the lead three minutes into the second quarter, but Folk’s 46-yard attempt was blocked by Trojan defensive end Lawrence Jackson.

    Late Hits

    Backup quarterback Adam Austin came in on Arizona’s final drive, going 0-of-2… Steptoe made it 21 straight games with a catch on a 25-yard reception in the first quarter… USC has now scored at least 20 points in 55 straight games.

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