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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

FINAL: Arizona 31, Oregon 24

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Arizona sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) celebrates with Athletic Director Greg Byrne after Arizona’s 31-24 win against Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon on Thursday.

Oh, what a night. In front of a raucous sold-out Autzen Stadium crowd of 56,032, the Arizona Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) upset the No. 2 Oregon Ducks for the second straight season. This time in Eugene, Ore., the Wildcats defeated Oregon 31-24 behind a late touchdown from running back Terris Jones-Grigsby and a key turnover caused by linebacker Scooby Wright III.

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez said the team prepared for the game and summed up the upset best during post-game interviews.

“I don’t know if anybody picked us,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know how many people were talking about us but I bet you that most of them were thinking that this wasn’t going to happen; not on the road. That lightning doesn’t strike twice. In fact, our video we showed our guys last night actually showed a guy getting hit by lightning twice in 30 seconds.”

In this case, lightning struck again at an opportune moment for the Arizona football program.

Arizona running backs Nick Wilson and Jones-Grigsby set the tone offensively throughout the game as the powerful duo combined for 202 rushing yards and four total touchdowns on 40 carries. After the game, Jones-Grigsby praised Arizona QB Anu Solomon and the offensive line in front of him.

“First thing I credited was Anu and the line,” Jones-Grigsby said. “Anu showed great composure out there and didn’t let the crowd rattle us. The line just blew them off the ball and created the holes. That last drive was just a blessing to me.”

In just his first Pac-12 conference road game, Arizona redshirt freshman QB Anu Solomon battled admirably against Oregon redshirt junior QB Marcus Mariota. Solomon finished the game 20-31 for 287 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Despite being sacked four times, Solomon kept his composure and led the Arizona offense to four second-half touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball was Oregon superstar QB Marcus Mariota.

Mariota finished the game 20-32 with 276 passing yards, two touchdowns and was sacked five times. His ability to improvise was on full display Thursday night and kept the Ducks in the game. The Heisman hopeful scrambled and squirmed his way around and in between the Arizona defensive front throughout the game.

For the second straight year the Arizona defense made Mariota uncomfortable as the Wildcats forced two fumbles on Thursday from the 6-foot-4 quarterback from Hawaii. Despite his team losing, Mariota passed John Elway for seventh in Pac-12 history in career touchdown passes with his 78th passing touchdown of his career when he threw a fourth-quarter TD to receiver Keanon Lowe.

During post-game interviews, Solomon said Mariota has his vote for the Heisman trophy.

After an up-and-down first half, the Wildcats and Ducks kicked their respective offenses into high gear during the second half. What was a 7-3 game at halftime, turned into a battle of who could score points faster.

Arizona opened the second-half with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive that lasted just 2:08. Oregon answered right back with its own quick scoring drive of 10-plays and 72-yards that lasted 2:54.

Wright III led an Arizona defense that stepped up down the stretch when stops were most needed. The sophomore linebacker ended up with seven total tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His last play, the forced fumble and recovery against Mariota, turned out to be his biggest.

“When I finally realized was when I had the ball in my hands and I was running toward our sideline,” Wright III said. “I was just awestruck when I had the ball in my hands.”

Arizona’s run defense was key in limiting a normally explosive Oregon rushing attack. The Wildcats front three got significantly more penetration against the Ducks than the unit had in any of the first four games of the season.

Despite the Ducks finishing with 144 rushing yards, the defense stepped up when most needed down the stretch.

The significance of this win for the Arizona football program cannot be overstated.

“I’m really proud of our guys and the way they battled,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t play a clean game, by any stretch of the imagination… and as I said, they kept competing. I’ve been very proud of them.”

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