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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats drop Devils; next stop Las Vegas

    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama celebrates with fans after a 31-10 win over ASU Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama beat the Sun Devils for the first time in his career and the Wildcats earned a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 20 against No. 17 BYU.
    UA quarterback Willie Tuitama celebrates with fans after a 31-10 win over ASU Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. Tuitama beat the Sun Devils for the first time in his career and the Wildcats earned a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 20 against No. 17 BYU.

    Arizona 31, ASU 10

    After a slow start the Arizona football team overcame an early deficit to roll over rival ASU in the second half en route to a 31-10 victory Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

    Now, Arizona will be invited to play in the Las Vegas Bowl – which will be held in Sam Boyd Stadium on Dec. 20 – against No. 20 BYU.

    “”You always want to go into a bowl game with momentum. I think we helped accomplish that tonight,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”Tonight was about us, Arizona, moving forward as a football team and a program. It wasn’t about Arizona State.””

    For the second time during Stoops’ tenure the Wildcats knocked off the Sun Devils (5-7, 5-4 Pacific 10 Conference), but this win carries much more significance for the program. The victory gave the squad a 7-5 record overall and 5-4 in the Pac 10 – the first time Arizona has posted a winning record since the 1998 season when the team went 12-1 and won the Holiday Bowl.

    To make the win even sweeter for the Wildcats, their efforts put a halt to ASU’s streak of four straight bowl game appearances.

    “”It feels good to beat a team and keep them out of a bowl. I would say this is the highlight of my career,”” said senior quarterback Willie Tuitama. “”I told the seniors after the third quarter that the last 15 minutes can erase the last three years. It really hasn’t set in yet.””

    On Senior Night, the UA seniors keyed a second-half comeback by making big plays when the Wildcats needed them. Despite being down 10-7 at the half and out-gaining the Sun Devils 185-66 in offensive yardage, quarterback Willie Tuitama spearheaded Arizona’s 21-point third quarter that effectively ended the game.

    Tuitama found Delashaun Dean in the endzone with 7:23 left in the quarter to give the Wildcats the lead for good. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter was picked off by senior corner back Marquis Hundley who followed a convy down the ASU sideline to the 35-yard line.

    Four plays later running back Nic Grigbsy scored from 12 yards out to give Arizona an 11-point advantage, but the killer blow was delivered 2 minutes later.

    Senior wide receiver Mike Thomas fielded a punt at the UA 48-yard line after it bounced over his head. He turned to the far side of the field and followed his blockers 52 yards for a score that sent a sold-out crowd of 58,704 into a frenzy.

    “”It’s sweeter than sweet-potato pie. It was good, you can’t take away this kind of feeling,”” Thomas said. “”We’ll remember this forever. Our last game at Arizona, to go out the way we did, it was awesome.””

    The Arizona defense played like it had been in the earlier part of the season as it held ASU to 162 yards and sacked Carpenter three times. ASU’s only points came after a 46-yard kickoff return that resulted in a field goal, and the Sun Devils’ lone touchdown came after UA punter Keenyn Crier fielded the snap with his knee on the ground at the 20-yard line and gave ASU a short field.

    But as well as the defense played, and as hot as the offense was in the second half, it was a night for all Arizona players and coaches to enjoy after thoroughly trouncing ASU.

    “”This win is huge and we played really well. It feels great to finally beat ASU,”” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “”We are capable of doing a lot in Las Vegas.””

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