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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Early struggles, mental mistakes come back to haunt Wildcats against Oregon State

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Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

In the Wildcats most topsy-turvy game this season, Arizona fell short in a 38-35 loss to No. 18 Oregon State on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

Receiver Austin Hill’s display of emotions at a post-game press conference captured the general state of mind in a game that had six lead changes, all in the second half — the last of which came with 1:09 remaining on a 9-yard touchdown pass from OSU’s Sean Mannion to tight end Connor Hamlett.

The game ended when UA quarterback Matt Scott threw an interception on a pass intended for receiver Tyler Slavin to the Beavers’ Rashaad Reynolds.

As he sat at the podium alone, Hill first fielded questions about the Wildcats’ struggles to start the game.

Oregon State jumped out to a 17-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

“It’s tough, you want the momentum to swing your way,” Hill said, softly. “It’s iust hard when you go down that early. We did it against Oklahoma State [in week two]. We just maybe started a little late and couldn’t hold it toward the end.”

Receiver Dan Buckner admitted that the early struggles came back to bite the Wildcats.

“Our offense wasn’t clicking,” said Buckner, who had a team-high 119 receiving yards. “It’s a game of 60 minutes. Our team fought hard but you gotta play a complete game, especially against a team like [Oregon State].”

Hill lit up when talking about quarterback Matt Scott, who was forced to leave the game for a play in the third quarter after being tackled onto his shoulder after a 21-yard run.

Scott returned, and after a short pass to Buckner and a pass interference call on OSU, Scott found Hill in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 17-14 early in the second half.

“He’s a fighter,” Hill said. “Matt’s always been a fighter, that’s what I love about him.”

Scott finished the game completing 31-of-53 passes for 403 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Hill started talking about Arizona’s half time adjustments, but had to take a deep breath before admitting what went wrong for the Wildcats.

“We had a lot of mental mistakes,” Hill said. “I don’t know, it was just rough.”

The most costly mental mistakes came as a result of two penalties from safety Jourdon Grandon.

Arizona held a 28-24 lead halfway through the fourth quarter and Oregon State had the ball at its own 14. As a result of Grandon being flagged for unnecessary roughness and face mask penalties, the Beavers moved 30 yards up the field and finished the drive off with Mannion finding Markus Wheaton for a 20-yard score and a 31-28 lead.

Hill, who had eight receptions for 74 yards, snared his second touchdown of the game on the next drive to put the Wildcats up 35-31, but the Arizona defense couldn’t contain Mannion (who passed for 433 yards and three touchdowns) on the final scoring drive of the game.

“We knew what they were doing,” linebacker Marquis Flowers said.

“They just executed better. We gotta do a better job tackling. But you gotta tip your hats off to them.”

Arizona’s failure to convert on its final drive is what disturbed Hill the most.

“It was tough being in on that final drive,” Hill said, taking another deep breath. “I fell over on one of the routes Matt was scrambling on, that was tough. I don’t know, I just felt we just gave it up as an offense at the end.”

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