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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona downed in bowl for second straight year


SAN ANTONIO, Texas — At one point in the fourth quarter, linebacker Paul Vassallo held his arms up in frustration as if to say, “”what else can we do?””

Vassallo’s motion epitomized the disappointment the Arizona defense felt throughout the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Arizona, which was dominated from the very beginning of the game, couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm on either side of the ball. Coupled with an offense that refused to show any kind of spark, Arizona fell for a second straight year in the post season. Oklahoma State defeated the Wildcats 36-10.

“”It’s unfortunate,”” Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. “”I thought we prepared well. We should have played better than we did.””

Though it struggled all game to contain Cowboy receiver Justin Blackmon, who finished with two touchdowns and broke the NCAA record for most games with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, the defense ran out of answers in the end.

“”I think it changed momentum, gave us a lot of spark as far as offense,”” Blackmon said. “”Kind of made us want to come out, get it more.””

“”The defense and the offense, we always get a chance to come back and compete,”” said cornerback Robert Golden. “”We never was really out of the game. We kept trying to fight, and they just made more plays than we did.””

Arizona (7-6) began on a seemingly high note. The defense held a powerful Oklahoma State (11-2) offense with its own territory and forced a punt. From there, everything went downhill.

Punt returner William “”Bug”” Wright muffed the kick, setting up the Cowboy offense at Arizona’s 26-yard line. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden maneuvered the offense inside the 10-yard line before handing it off Jeremy Smith rushed for the first score of the game, almost exactly one minute into the game.

OSU’s high-powered offense was expected to score and score often, but the Arizona defense gave its counterpart a fighting chance until late in the game.

Things continued to unravel for the Wildcats early in the game. Running back Keola Antolin was knocked out of the game on Arizona’s first offensive play when the night’s biggest hit from OSU safety Markelle Martin left him with a presumable concussion.

Five plays later, it got worse for Arizona.

Weeden hit receiver Justin Blackmon for a 71-yard score to double the Cowboy lead. To add insult to injury, Blackmon danced along the goal line before finally breaking the plane with 8:46 left in the quarter.

The Arizona offense, which struggled all night, found its only highlight to be a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Foles to a leaping Juron Criner in the first quarter.

After that, the offense finished the half by punting, turning the ball over twice, missing a field goal and running out of time to score despite being in OSU territory.

“”But the interceptions that we made and the ability to hold them to field goals was obviously a big part of the game,”” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said.

“”They were moving around a lot and did a good job of mixing stuff up,”” Foles said. “”It was on me. Those balls just weren’t good throws. One was too low, one I threw it too late. On my part, just wasn’t a good job on those passes.””

While the first half was a disaster for Arizona offensively — it had six chances inside OSU territory, but continued to flounder — the second half didn’t show much improvement.

“”Offensively we struggled every gain getting down to the 30 yard line and not being able to push the ball any further,”” Stoops said. “”That was a story of a big part of our season offensively.””

The Wildcats continued to struggles offensively, Foles threw another interception and kicker Alex Zendejas missed another field goal, OSU added a touchdown and two field goals in the second half.

The Wildcats allowed more 33 points or more for the second years in a row during postseason play. In the past three years, Arizona is 1-2 in bowl games.

Arizona’s season ended with five straight losses and weren’t able to shake the slow start and offensive struggles that had plagued it all season.

“”There are no excuses. They played better than we did,”” Stoops said. “”They were a better team than we were tonight.””

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