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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sunk again: Arizona falls to Beavers on last-second field goal

    UA defenders attempt to block a last-second field goal during a 19-17 Oregon State win Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Beaver kicker Justin Kahut missed an extra point attempt minutes earlier, but nailed the 24-yard game-winning kick as time expired to keep Oregon States Rose Bowl hopes alive.
    UA defenders attempt to block a last-second field goal during a 19-17 Oregon State win Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Beaver kicker Justin Kahut missed an extra point attempt minutes earlier, but nailed the 24-yard game-winning kick as time expired to keep Oregon State’s Rose Bowl hopes alive.

    No. 21 Oregon State 19, Arizona 17

    On his way off the field on Saturday night, Arizona safety Cam Nelson looked toward the 10-yard line with repulsion as a group of Oregon State players continued their celebration.

    Moments later, linebacker Ronnie Palmer walked past sulkily shaking his head, followed by defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, whose face read only one thing: disgust.

    The Wildcats (6-5, 4-4 Pacific 10 Conference) had played a nearly perfect game. They held the now-No. 17 Beavers (8-3, 7-1) to a draw through 52 minutes and never committed a single turnover.

    Oregon State even lost its best offensive player when running back Jacquizz Rodgers left the game on the Beavers’ second possession with an injured left shoulder, but a play in the game’s final minute negated Arizona’s hard-fought effort and handed it a 19-17 loss.

    “”That’s a tough loss to take for a lot of different reasons,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”For three-and-a-half quarters we played them probably about as good as we could play them. We just didn’t finish.

    “”They executed very well in the fourth quarter,”” Stoops added. “”They threw the ball well. We just didn’t do the things necessary to win at the end.””

    The Wildcats showed heart through much of the game, as they fought back from a 10-3 deficit in the third quarter to take a 17-10 lead midway through the fourth.

    Quarterback Willie Tuitama found tight end Rob Gronkowski in the right corner of the end zone for Arizona’s first touchdown of the game – Gronkowski’s ninth scoring catch of the season.

    Nearly seven minutes later, running back Keola Antolin capped an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.

    The Wildcats’ 17-point total appeared to be safe despite OSU taking the next 4:30 to drive down the field for a score, as place kicker Justin Kahut pulled the potential game-tying extra point wide left of the uprights.

    But on Arizona’s ensuing possession, the Wildcats failed to convert on their second third down of the drive, as Antolin only managed to collect 6 yards on a third-and-eight.

    “”That last play, we almost got it,”” Stoops said. “”They were in a solid eight-man front; they were playing the run hard. We stole one first down with Willie scrambling and came up one yard short on that second one. But I thought we did the things right.””

    Despite its inability to convert the third-down play and keep its drive and the clock moving, Arizona did manage to pin the Beavers back to their own 20-yard line with 1:19 remaining.

    But as the crowd of 48,503 started to come alive, so did the OSU offense. Beaver quarterback Sean Canfield completed his first two passes up to his team’s own 46-yard line. Then Canfield delivered the potential knockout blow – a 47-yard bomb to wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, who beat cornerback Devin Ross down the sideline, setting up what would be the game-winning field goal.

    “”(OSU) just came up with a good play,”” Ross said. “”I got switched to the outside kinda late. We were looking for a different route and they switched it up on us and ran a double post.””

    The catch set Kahut up for a chance at redemption from 24 yards out with four seconds remaining. With Arizona Stadium rocking, hoping for another miss, the sophomore converted as time expired, swiftly taking the air out of the fans and beginning OSU’s celebration on its march to a potential Rose Bowl berth.

    “”It’s really good to have a second chance and then you’ve got to capitalize on it,”” OSU head coach Mike Riley said of Kahut. “”It’s his first time being our kicker, he’s a sophomore, and it’s his first time being the guy. You’ve got to learn from this because that’s as tough as it gets.””

    In the end, the UA finished ahead of the Beavers in multiple categories, including first downs (19) and time of possession (32:43). In other areas, the Wildcats found themselves nearly equal with OSU, especially at the end of the first half when only three yards of total offense separated the two teams with the score knotted at 3.

    But when the clock struck zero, Arizona could not focus on what it capitalized on early in the game, but where it had fallen short at the end.

    “”I don’t know what you tell a team after this one,”” Mark Stoops said. “”You just tell them that you’re proud of their effort and we just didn’t make enough plays to win down the stretch.

    “”(OSU) is darn good, and I’m just disappointed in our guys and our program that we can’t make those plays there to win in that situation,”” he added. “”We needed to come up with a stop.””

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