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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cats can’t catch up to Beavers

    Arizona came into Saturdays game against Oregon State knowing that to win, it couldnt ask too much of quarterback Kris Heavner, its third starter in three weeks.
    Arizona came into Saturday’s game against Oregon State knowing that to win, it couldn’t ask too much of quarterback Kris Heavner, its third starter in three weeks.

    Arizona came into Saturday’s game against Oregon State knowing that to win, it couldn’t ask too much of quarterback Kris Heavner, its third starter in three weeks.

    Indeed, a 14-point first-quarter deficit proved too much for Heavner and the Wildcats to overcome, as Arizona (3-5, 1-4 Pacific 10 Conference) fell 17-10 in front of a Family Weekend crowd of 57,113 at Arizona Stadium.

    “”It was a real physical game,”” said defensive tackle Yaniv Barnett. “”We just have to execute (better). We didn’t come out executing on offense or on defense.””

    The loss marked the team’s fourth in its past five games.

    “”I know you’re judged by wins and losses, but our kids are really playing hard, and it’s just – hard enough’s not good enough right now,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We’ve just got to play a little bit better. That’s the bottom line.””

    Heavner entered having only four days of practice as the No. 1 quarterback in relief of injured starters Willie Tuitama and Adam Austin, and as Heavner led the team downfield in critical situations, he showed the rust accumulated since his last start for the Wildcats in 2004.

    The senior threw an interception right into the hands of Beavers linebacker Joey LaRoque on Oregon State’s 45-yard line with 2:25 remaining in the contest and was picked off again on a desperation heave toward the end zone on the final play of the game.

    In the second quarter, facing fourth-and-goal on Oregon State’s 1-yard line with Arizona down 14-0, Heavner overthrew open tight end Brandyn McCall after a successful fake handoff.

    Heavner finished 16-of-27 for 161 yards and no touchdowns.

    “”We lost, it doesn’t matter,”” he said of his performance. “”We should have played better.””

    The Wildcats’ only touchdown came when wide receiver Syndric Steptoe took Kyle Loomis’ 34-yard punt at the Arizona 33 and dashed 67 yards untouched down the east sideline to close Oregon State’s lead to 14-10 late in the third quarter.

    It was Arizona’s first punt return for a score since Steptoe’s 63-yard return against UCLA last November.

    Still, the achievement only went to highlight the struggles by the Wildcats’ offense to take advantage of an overall solid defensive effort.

    Arizona forced Oregon State into a three-and-out after Heavner’s incompletion on the fourth-and-1, and the Wildcats got the ball again on the Beavers’ 45 with 1:10 left in the first half – sans timeouts.

    Needing to move down the field efficiently, Heavner made Steptoe crouch to make a completion on first down, and the receiver couldn’t get out of bounds after a seven-yard gain.

    On the next play, Heavner found Henry for 29 yards down to Oregon State’s 9-yard line but then hooked up again for a four-yard loss that drained the clock down to six seconds.

    After Heavner spiked the ball, Arizona sent out kicker Nick Folk on third down, and he hit a 30-yard field goal to make the score 14-3 at the half.

    “”Scoring points in tough situations seemed to be the difference between winning and losing,”” Stoops said. “”That’s play-calling. It’s execution. It’s inexperience. But that’s just how it is. We just got to find a way to get better.””

    The Beavers (4-3, 2-2) hurt Heavner’s chances of building an early offensive rhythm by chewing up more than 10 minutes of the first quarter, thanks in large part to running back Yvenson Bernard’s 68 rushing yards.

    Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore found wide receiver Sammie Stroughter for a 34-yard touchdown seven minutes into the game and scored another one himself on a one-yard sneak with 12 seconds left in the quarter.

    Bernard carried 26 times for 107 yards, while Moore went 16-of-22 for 181 yards and two interceptions.

    “”We had a good running game tonight,”” said OSU head coach Mike Riley. “”I would have liked to have taken away a couple of turnovers, but we had great balance against (Arizona).””

    The Wildcats went to their fourth starting quarterback of the season when they trotted out junior wide receiver Anthony Johnson to open the game.

    Stoops had hinted that either Johnson or senior wide receiver Syndric Steptoe could have taken snaps Saturday, particularly if Heavner had gone down to injury.

    Johnson stayed in for only one series, despite Stoops’ intention to use him as a change of pace for Heavner.

    He ran once for four yards and missed Steptoe, who remained at wideout, on his only pass attempt.

    “”We never got that going,”” Stoops said of putting Johnson at quarterback. “”We just struggled getting anything going offensively.””

    Arizona’s run game failed to maintain the momentum it established with a 220-yard performance at Stanford last week.

    The team managed only 22 rushing yards, including 19 on nine carries by Henry.

    “”Twenty-two yards rushing, 2-of-12 on third down – those are big stats,”” Stoops said. “”Our inability to run the football really put us in bad situations.””

    Late hits

    Arizona will not practice this week until Wednesday because the team has a bye this weekend before traveling to Washington State on Nov. 4…Henry had a game-high eight receptions for 87 yards, almost all of which came after the catch…Stroughter, who entered as the Pac-10 leader in yards per reception, had five catches for 91 yards…Linebacker Ronnie Palmer had a season-high 10 tackles.

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