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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Everything goes the Wildcats’ way in upset of No. 5 Oregon

Alexander Plaumann
Alexander Plaumann / The Daily Wildcat UA student fans, from the ZonaZoo section, jump onto the field immediately following the 42-16 win over No. 5 Oregon on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

A sea of more than 8,000 Arizona students rushed the field to celebrate Arizona’s 42-16 win over No. 5 Oregon on Saturday afternoon. After senior quarterback B.J. Denker took a knee to end the game, he handed the ball to the referee and turned toward ZonaZoo, hands in the air.

Running back Ka’Deem Carey waved at the student section, encouraging them to rush the field, helping him celebrate his legacy as likely the greatest running back to ever wear a UA football jersey.

“This is a crazy win for our program, our coaches and our seniors,” Denker said. “Everything went right today.”

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez optimistically said during practice last week that a few things had to go in the Wildcats’ favor in order for them to beat the Ducks (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12). Saturday, everything went right for Arizona (7-4, 4-4), and it all started with the first play from scrimmage.
“Our guys knew [Oregon] was going to make plays,” Rodriguez said. “We just had to make one more.”

Making a key play on Oregon’s quarterback Marcus Mariota was the challenge because the highly-touted sophomore hadn’t thrown an interception in more than a year.

But on what was a routine pitch and catch along the sideline to start the game, Ducks’ receiver Bralon Addison let a wet ball slip through his hands, and right on time to make the play was Wildcats senior cornerback Shaquille Richardson; he dove out of bounds and, in mid-air, tipped the fumbled pass into the hands of in-bounds Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright for Mariota’s first interception since Nov. 17, 2012.

“I saw [Addison] tip it up,” Richardson said. “I tried to grab it with one hand, took a picture of it, looked for some red and I tipped it to a red jersey.”

Mariota’s improbable interception put the Ducks in a state of shock, and before they knew it, they trailed Arizona 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. From then on out, Arizona never let its foot off the gas. Trailing by 19 at halftime, Oregon’s largest deficit since 2004, the Ducks had no more wind in their sail to catch up.

“We all kind of knew they were going to come out [in the second half] and try a few new things,” Arizona senior linebacker Jake Fischer said. “We zoned in on what they were trying to do, and we stopped them.”

In what could very likely be Carey’s final home game before he is drafted into the NFL, the Tucson native ran the ball 48 times, a school record, and rushed for 206 yards against the Ducks.

On the 118th yard, which came during the third quarter, Carey broke Arizona’s all-time career rushing record of 3,824 yards formerly held by Trung Candidate.

But Carey didn’t stop there. With nine minutes remaining in the game and the Wildcats leading 35-16, Carey, on his 42nd rush, scored his fourth touchdown of the game and his 49th of his career, breaking the long-standing record once held by Art Luppino.

“Being raised and born here, I felt like I put on for my city,” Carey said.

Denker, who transferred to Tucson in 2012 from Cerritos College in California, didn’t become the everyday starter until this season. But he made the very final play to finish up his last home game.

The southpaw quarterback leaves Arizona Stadium with the game of his life. Denker was extremely efficient with his passes, helping the offense rack up 29 first downs. He completed 19 of his 22 pass attempts, two for touchdowns and collected a total of 178 passing yards. He also had 102 rushing yards.

“We didn’t throw the ball down field much, but he was really dialed in and was accurate,” Rodriguez said of Denker. “At this stage, for a guy no one knew about in high school or knew about out of junior college — no one knew about two months ago — I’m pretty proud of B.J. Denker.”

Prior to this weekend, Arizona had yet to beat a Division I school with a winning record this season. But now with just nationally-ranked ASU left on their schedule, the Wildcats are one win away from having their most successful season, finishing the regular season with eight wins, their most since 2009.

“We believe we can beat anyone on any night,” said Fischer, who finished with 14 total tackles. “And we did it today.”

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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