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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Same old story: ‘Pain and anguish’

    The Arizona football team has officially hit rock bottom.

    Saturday’s 21-20 loss to lowly Stanford has clinched the team’s ninth consecutive non-winning season, raising serious questions about the future of some of its coaches.

    It’s the Wildcats’ (2-6, 1-4 Pacific 10 Conference) third consecutive loss to a conference opponent and the fourth consecutive home loss to Stanford, who haven’t lost in Tucson since 1997.

    The game turned out to be a contest of who could do more to lose, and the Wildcats proved again they could come up with new ways not to win a football game.

    “”I’ve seen it all,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”I felt like we had every opportunity to put the game away and just couldn’t take it.

    “”It’s disappointing for everybody. I certainly understand the pain and anguish as much as anyone.””

    Arizona went up against a depleted Cardinal team that was on its third running back of the season and second quarterback.

    Going into the match, Stanford ranked near the bottom of the country in several major categories, like rush offense (92), total offense (81), rush defense (75), pass defense (111), scoring defense (97), total defense (106), pass efficiency on defense (115) and pass efficiency on offense (91), but still managed to pull off a win over an Arizona team that now has four games remaining, two against teams ranked in the top 10 in the country overall heading into last week.

    “”It’s kind of the same story,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”We just didn’t make any plays. … That’s our job to get the ball in the end zone and we just didn’t get it done. That all comes down to me; that’s my responsibility to have those kids ready to play.””

    Arizona had a 20-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Stanford used 5:13 of the clock for a 53-yard scoring drive to come back and take the lead over the Wildcats with 5:54 remaining in the game.

    On the ensuing drive, Arizona had a 4th-down-and-inches play at the Stanford 43-yard-line. Willie Tuitama tried for a quarterback sneak but still couldn’t get the ball past the first-down plane, turning the ball over on downs.

    Arizona was given yet another chance just over one minute later when the Cardinal turned the ball over on downs.

    But on the first play of the drive, wide receiver Anthony Johnson fumbled the ball after catching it and Stanford recovered at the Arizona 22-yard line, ultimately sealing the game with 2:13 to play.

    “”This is another one of those. It really stings,”” Larsen said. “”Those teams you’re supposed to beat. I think it hurts a lot more when you lose to them.

    “”It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, working so hard for something day in and day out, year in year out and just not quite realizing your potential.””

    Arizona placekicker Jason Bondzio, who has been lights out all season, converting 12-of-15 field goals, missed a 29-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter.

    The kick would have put the Wildcats up by nine heading into the fourth quarter.

    “”That was the game, really,”” Stoops said. “”We should have just taken it in and scored.””

    Leading 10-7 towards the end of the first half, Arizona attempted to score again to pat the lead, but instead, Tuitama called a play that wasn’t even supposed to happen.

    On 4th-and-two at the Stanford 48-yard line, the plan was to draw the Cardinal offside or take a delay of game penalty, Stoops said. Instead, Tuitama took the snap and passed to Mike Thomas, who dropped the pass, turning the ball over on downs.

    And as all things have seemed to have bit the Wildcats, the Cardinal scored a touchdown just over two minutes later.

    Tuitama declined comment after the game.

    “”It’s disheartening,”” defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. “”I feel bad for the fans that come to support us and our players.

    “”There were plays out there that we could have made to win the game and we didn’t make them.””

    Antoine Cason was asked if the loss was as bad as it’s ever been for him.

    “”I don’t know about that,”” he said. “”But it’s bad.””

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