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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Let’s go bowling: Wildcats drown Ducks in Autzen

    UA head coach Mike Stoops gets water dumped on him by cornerbak Wilrey Fontenot (3) during the waning seconds of the fourth quarter of Arizonas game 37-10 upset win at Oregon Saturday at Autzen Stadium. The Wildcats became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1998 with the win.
    UA head coach Mike Stoops gets water dumped on him by cornerbak Wilrey Fontenot (3) during the waning seconds of the fourth quarter of Arizona’s game 37-10 upset win at Oregon Saturday at Autzen Stadium. The Wildcats became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1998 with the win.

    EUGENE, Ore. – Arizona head coach Mike Stoops whirled around on the Autzen Stadium sideline Saturday, his mouth frozen in a ‘O’ befitting his opponent. Then came the grin.

    Never mind that he had just been doused with gallons of ice water, with fog abound and temperatures already in the low 40s.

    The Arizona football team had clinched an improbable 37-10 victory over Oregon, and if a chilly sweatshirt came with the Wildcats’ ending eight years of postseason futility, so be it.

    “”It’s a really good feeling,”” Stoops said. “”Our kids just felt like it was our time.””

    With the victory, Arizona (6-5, 4-4 Pacific 10 Conference) became eligible for a bowl game for the first time since a 12-1 season in 1998.

    The Wildcats broke a seven-game losing streak to the Ducks (7-4, 4-4) and won in Autzen for the first time since 1986, a span of six contests.

    Arizona forced six turnovers and got a career-best 191 rushing yards from running back Chris Henry, who carried 29 times and scored three total touchdowns, two rushing.

    The Wildcats have won three straight games for the first time since 2001, coming off upsets over then-No. 25 Washington State and then-No. 8 California.

    “”We’re here to stay,”” said junior linebacker Spencer Larsen, who led Arizona with 10 tackles and recorded his first career interception. “”We beat three really good teams. It’s fun.””

    The Wildcats toyed with Oregon’s run defense, which entered Saturday ranked ninth in the Pacific 10 Conference at 145.5 yards allowed per game. Arizona finished with a season-high 265 rushing yards.

    Having averaged 2.5 yards on 60 carries the previous two games, Henry gained 11 or more yards on four of his first six attempts.

    With Arizona up 27-10 with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, Henry bolted for a career-best 61 yards untouched for his final score.

    His first gave Arizona the lead for good only 11 minutes into the contest.

    After Larsen recovered Patrick Chung’s fumble on a punt return on Oregon’s 15-yard line, Henry shed a would-be tackler on the Wildcats’ next play en route to a 7-3 advantage.

    With nine minutes gone in the second quarter, Henry took a Willie Tuitama pass in the right flat and reversed all the way across the field for 21 yards. It was his first touchdown reception of the season.

    “”It’s good when you have the speed to get to the outside, and everybody on your team is blocking one way, and you just run the other,”” Henry said.

    The Wildcats scored 23 points off turnovers, 13 off three interceptions by quarterback Dennis Dixon.

    Arizona took a 24-10 lead on a 29-yard Nick Folk field goal soon after defensive end Marcus Smith and linebacker Ronnie Palmer combined for a key turnover for the second straight week.

    With five and half minutes left in the first half, Smith leapt to tip Dixon’s pass just beyond the line of scrimmage. Palmer bent to catch the ball near his ankles at Arizona’s 30 and pushed ahead 16 yards.

    The play unfolded almost exactly like Palmer’s interception of quarterback Nate Longshore in the last two minutes of the Wildcats’ 24-20 upset over Cal at Arizona Stadium last week, which also came off a Smith tip.

    “”I’ve been blessed,”” Palmer said. “”Marcus, both times, has been able to get it up in the air for me, and I’ve been at the right place at the right time.””

    Dixon was pulled for backup Brady Leaf early in the fourth quarter after tossing his second interception, this time to safety Michael Klyce.

    Leaf was dragged to the ground as his second pass attempt floated from his hand, and Larsen dove in and rolled up with the ball.

    “”First college (interception),”” Larsen said. “”After three years, I’ll take it.””

    Arizona would guarantee itself a bowl berth by defeating ASU at home Saturday in the annual Territorial Cup rivalry game.

    “”Come Monday, we’re going to have to get prepared for another tough game, at home,”” said Folk, who went 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts. “”It’s the seniors’ last (regular season) game, we got to have fun. We win, we’ll go to a better bowl game than we’re going to right now.””

    Late Hits

    Arizona won the opening coin flip for the first time in 12 contests, dating back to last November’s 52-14 Homecoming victory over then-No. 7 UCLA.…Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson carried 10 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, including gains of 44 and 33 yards.

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