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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats fall just short of upset

    UA tightend Rob Gronkowski is brought down by USC linebacker Brian Cushing (10) and other Trojan defenders during a 17-10 USC win at Arizona Stadium on Saturday night. The loss drops the Wildcats to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the Pacific-10 Conference heading into their bye week.
    UA tightend Rob Gronkowski is brought down by USC linebacker Brian Cushing (10) and other Trojan defenders during a 17-10 USC win at Arizona Stadium on Saturday night. The loss drops the Wildcats to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the Pacific-10 Conference heading into their bye week.

    The Arizona football team put up a valiant effort against No. 6 USC but couldn’t capitalize on multiple opportunities as they lost 17-10 to the Trojans and no longer control their own destiny in the Pacific 10 Conference race.

    After a first-half defensive battle in front of a sell-out crowd of 57,427, Arizona (5-3, 3-2 Pac-10) forced a turnover inside the 20-yard line when UA defensive end Brooks Reed forced a fumble as he sacked USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Running back Nic Grigsby scored four plays later to knot the game at 10 with just more than 12 minutes left in the third quarter, but the Wildcats wouldn’t score again.

    “”They were just too good defensively and that was really the story tonight,”” said UA head 57it goes.””

    The game-wining score by USC (6-1, 4-1) came with 7:56 left in the third quarter on a 30-yard pass from Sanchez to Stanley Havili on a blown coverage. The Wildcats had five possessions after that point with the opportunity to tie the game once again, but was held to just 39 offensive yards during the span.

    The Arizona offense was held to 188 offensive yards on the night – 88 passing and 100 rushing – and was 5-for-15 on third downs. Quarterback Willie Tuitama seemed slightly out of sync all night and finished the night 14-of-30 for 88 yards and one interception.

    The Wildcats had several opportunities to make a statement in the game, but each time wound up on the wrong side of the exchange.

    “”We didn’t execute on offense. Our timing was off and we weren’t in sync for most of the game,”” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “”The defense gave us plenty of opportunities, we just didn’t come through.””

    Early in the second quarter freshman running back Keola Antolin was taken down at the 1-yard line, but a personal foul on offensive lineman James Tretheway pushed Arizona back to the 16 and eventually had to settle for an early field goal. After the Trojans took a 10-3 lead on the ensuing drive, senior wide receiver Mike Thomas returned the kickoff 52-yards before USC’s kicker brought him down.

    The game could be best summed up by two the fourth-quarter plays. Arizona had a 4th-and-inches – maybe one inch – at the UA 47-yard line with the game essentially on the line, but Tuitama was stuffed at the line for no gain and Arizona trotted off the field with bowed heads.

    On the final play of the game, Thomas was about to be brought down on a punt return but he pitched the ball to wide out Derrick Barkum in effort to keep the play alive. Barkum scooped the ball of the turf, and raced down the UA sideline with lots of green in front of him only to be dragged down at the USC 29-yard line.

    It looked as if Barkum was going to take it to the house, but was caught by the Trojans athletes.

    “”Coming in we felt like we could have scored a lot more points than we did and play a lot better than we did,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”And not to take credit away from USC, they had something to do with it, but we’re capable of playing better than this.””

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