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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats can’t claw back

Wildcats cant claw back

BERKELEY, Calif. — For the second time during the 2009 season, the Arizona football team lost a Pacific 10 Conference road game in heartbreaking fashion.

The No. 17 Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Pac-10) struggled to find consistency on both offense and defense throughout a closely contested game against California (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) during the Golden Bears’ Senior Night, but it was a zany play late in the contest that caused the Arizona to lose to Cal 24-16 in front of an announced attendance of 53,347.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Foles and the UA offense faced a 3rd-down-and-3 play with less than two minutes remaining. The Wildcats decided to pass for the first down but Foles’ pass was batted down by a Cal defensive lineman. Foles caught the ball and scrambled to his right before finding an open Delashaun Dean for a first down. However, that was an illegal forward pass so the Wildcats were penalized and pushed out of field goal range.

“”It was just a bad mistake by me. Everything happened so fast,”” Foles said. “”I caught it and, I don’t know. … I should have just dropped it down.””

Arizona couldn’t convert on the ensuing 4th-and-18 play and Cal scored on a 61-yard run by running back Shane Vereen on the very next play. The Bears botched the extra point try, which gave the Wildcats new life, but in the end Arizona couldn’t make the big plays when it needed to.

“”Nothing’s easy, and we’re the type of team where we have to do things right. We missed some opportunities and that’s really the disappointing part,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We just didn’t execute very well. You have to play a complete game to win. It was a tough game, and we just didn’t play well all the way through.””

The Arizona defense did its best to keep the Wildcats in the game, coming up with big plays in critical situations. Senior safety Cam Nelson picked off the first pass of his college career in the third quarter — an interception inside the UA 5-yard line — and junior safety Joe Perkins also picked off a Cal pass. Perkins’ interception came in the end zone and killed a Bear drive that would have likely resulted in points, but even that couldn’t save the Wildcats from defeat.

“”We didn’t play together, and we didn’t play to our capabilities. We pretty much just need to put this behind us as fast as we can and just move on,”” said defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. “”We know that we could have played better, and we’ve just got to come out and prove it the next time we play.””

Despite the Wildcats’ Rose Bowl chances taking a big hit, Arizona can still play it’s way into a Pac-10 Championship during the last three weeks of the season. The Wildcats face No. 13 Oregon during Arizona’s final home game of the season. But as far as the Wildcats are concerned, that’s the only game that matters.

“”I think everybody was too worried about what Stanford and USC and the other guys were doing this week instead of focusing on ourselves,”” Nelson said. “”I feel like that’s why we came out flat, so at this point I’m back at the same square one as last week.

“”We just need to worry about Oregon and not even worry about what’s going to happen in the Pac-10 after everything is over,”” he added. “”We just need to be getting ready for Masoli and James and Blount and those guys.””

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