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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Pain and anguish’ equal same old story

    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama goes down at the hands of Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig (80) during the Wildcats 21-20 loss to Stanford on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama and the rest of the team are now 2-6 overall and find their bowl hopes even less obtainable.
    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama goes down at the hands of Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig (80) during the Wildcats’ 21-20 loss to Stanford on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama and the rest of the team are now 2-6 overall and find their bowl hopes even less obtainable.

    The Arizona football team may have finally hit rock bottom.

    Saturday’s 21-20 loss to Stanford at Arizona Stadium clinched the Wildcats’ ninth consecutive non-winning season. It was also Arizona’s third straight loss to a conference opponent and the fourth consecutive home loss to Stanford, which hasn’t lost in Tucson since 1997.

    The game turned out to be a contest of who could do more to lose, and the Wildcats (2-6, 1-4 Pacific 10 Conference) proved again they could come up with new ways not to win a football game.

    “”I’ve seen it all,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”I felt like we had every opportunity to put the game away and just couldn’t take it.

    “”It’s disappointing for everybody. I certainly understand the pain and anguish as much as anyone.””

    Arizona went up against a depleted Cardinal team that was on its third starting running back of the season and second quarterback.

    Going into the match, Stanford (3-4, 2-3) ranked near the bottom of the country in several major

    categories, including rush offense (92nd of 119 NCAA Division I-A teams), total offense (81st), rush defense (75th), pass defense (111th), scoring defense (97th), total defense (106th), opponents’ pass efficiency (115th) and offensive pass efficiency (91st).

    But the Cardinal still managed to pull off a win over an Arizona team that now has four games remaining against three of the Pac-10’s best teams, two ranked in the top seven nationally.

    “”It’s kind of the same story,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”We just didn’t make any plays. … That’s our job to get the ball in the end zone and we just didn’t get it done. That all comes down to me. That’s my responsibility to have those kids ready to play.””

    Arizona had a 20-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Stanford used 5:13 of the clock for a 53-yard scoring drive to come back and take the lead over the Wildcats with 5:54 remaining in the game.

    On the ensuing drive, Arizona confronted fourth-and-inches on the Stanford 43-yard line. Willie Tuitama tried for a quarterback sneak but couldn’t get the ball past the first-down plane, turning the ball over on downs.

    Arizona was given yet another chance just over one minute later when the Cardinal turned the ball over on downs.

    But on the first play of the drive, wide receiver Anthony Johnson fumbled the ball after catching it and Stanford recovered at the Arizona 22-yard line, ultimately sealing the game with 2:13 to play.

    “”It really stings,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”Those teams you’re supposed to beat. I think it hurts a lot more when you lose to them.

    “”It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, working so hard for something day in and day out, year in year out, and just not quite realizing your potential.””

    Arizona kicker Jason Bondzio, who has converted 12-of-15 field goals this season, missed a 29-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter. The kick would have put the Wildcats up by nine heading into the fourth quarter.

    “”That was the game, really,”” Stoops said. “”We should have just taken it in and scored (a touchdown).””

    Leading 10-7 toward the end of the first half, Arizona attempted to score again to pat the lead, but instead, Tuitama called a play that wasn’t even supposed to happen.

    On fourth-and-two at the Stanford 48-yard line, the plan was to draw the Cardinal offside or take a delay of game penalty, Stoops said. But Tuitama took the snap and passed to wide receiver Mike Thomas, who dropped the pass, turning the ball over on downs.

    The Cardinal scored a touchdown just more than two minutes later.

    Tuitama declined comment after the game.

    “”It’s disheartening,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”I feel bad for the fans that come to support us and our players.

    “”There were plays out there that we could have made to win the game, and we didn’t make them.””

    Senior cornerback Antoine Cason was asked if the loss made his Wildcat experience as bad as it’s ever been.

    “”I don’t know about that,”” he said. “”But it’s bad.””

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