Tate’s passing gave Arizona a chance but critical interception proved fatal

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Lianne Frick

Arizona quaterback Khalil Tate during the Wildcats double overtime win over Cal on Oct. 21.

Rob Leano

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Down by 17 points at the half, the Arizona Wildcats needed an offensive awakening to have a chance at a Foster Farms Bowl victory at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Wednesday. 

Arizona did come up with some offense in the first quarter, capturing 14 points and 135 yards, but the Wildcats were held without a score in the second that allowed Purdue to begin to pull away to 31-14 headed in to halftime. 

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said he thought Arizona didn’t play well at all in the first half, but added that his players still believed they could make their necessary changes to win the game. 

Purdue shut down most of Arizona’s ground attack, allowing for only 128 combined rushing yards.  But the Wildcats found their opportunity to keep the game close, buying some time in the air. 

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate said he noticed a couple holes in Purdue’s defense, capitalizing on those opportunities. 

“They were using the defensive ends a lot… and that opened up a lot on the outsides,” Tate said. 

Tate led the Cats by completing 17-of-26 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns, finishing the game with a 218.7 passer rating. His five touchdown passes were the most an Arizona quarterback has thrown in a bowl game, eclipsing Matt Scott’s three in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl. 

Tony Ellison led the Wildcats in receiving with four receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, a set of career highs for the redshirt junior.

It was Tate’s fifth touchdown pass to Shun Brown late in the fourth quarter, however, that gave Arizona a brief 4-point advantage over the Boilermakers. But it was his last throw to Brown that ended up sealing the Wildcats fate against Purdue as he overthrew him into the hands of a Boilermaker defender.

“I saw Shun Brown. He ran the route and the defender fell,” Tate said. “So I thought he would keep going uphill and we were on the wrong page and the safety happened to come over.”


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