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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats beat Cal 33-28 to become bowl eligible

Ryan+Revock+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+quarterback+B.J.+Denker+runs+the+ball+into+the+endzone+against+UNLV+on+Saturday.++
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA quarterback B.J. Denker runs the ball into the endzone against UNLV on Saturday.

BERKELEY, Calif.— Arizona escaped with a 33-28 victory over California Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats’ offense struggled for much of Saturday to find a consistent rhythm, especially early in the game. However, two forced defensive turnovers by the Arizona defense and untimely penalties by the Cal defense gave the UA multiple opportunities to score.

California (1-8, 0-6 Pac-12) opened the game with a seven-point lead after taking the games’ first drive 80 yards for a touchdown. The quick touchdown by the Golden Bears was surprising, as Cal had not led at any point of a game since its Sept. 7 win over Portland State, its only win on the season.

Arizona (6-2, 3-2) increased the defensive pressure following the quick touchdown and held the air-raid offense to be more conservative with its play calling.

Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who entered Saturday’s game as one of the nation’s top passers, struggled to air his passes out against Arizona. Following the touchdown drive by California, Goff was just one for his next 10 pass attempts on the next five drives.

While the Golden Bears were trying to find their offensive tempo, the Wildcats’ offense did the same.

Constant failed third down conversions prevented Arizona’s offense from putting together scoring drives. The UA punted four times in the first half. However, penalties by the Cal defense kept a couple of Arizona drives alive, drives that resulted in a rushing touchdown by quarterback B.J. Denker and a career long 53-yard field goal by kicker Jake Smith.

Midway through the second quarter though, the Golden Bears found success in running the ball, finishing the half with 80 team-rushing yards. The ground attack by the Golden Bears was unusual considering Cal averaged the conference’s 10th lowest rushing offense entering Saturday’s contest.

Quick and short passes combined with running the ball kept California close. Though trailing by five at halftime, the Golden Bears had the momentum at the break and for much of the third quarter.

California reverted back to its deadly passing game and continued to keep the game close. The Wildcats’ defense looked to be no match to the Golden Bears offense.

The turning point for Arizona came with 1:16 left in the third quarter when Wildcats cornerback Jonathan McKnight intercepted Goff’s pass inside the Golden Bears twenty yard line. The Arizona offense quickly turned the turnover into a touchdown as Denker scampered 17 yards for one of his three rushing touchdowns on the day and gave the Wildcats a 33-21 lead.

Barely holding onto the lead late in the game, McKnight came up big again as he recovered a Cal onside kick to seal the win.

Notable Arizona Game Stats

Denker was 24-for-38 for 261 passing yards and one passing touchdown. He also had 44 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

-Running back Ka’Deem Carey had 152 rushing yards on 32 attempts.

-Receiver Samajie Grant had a career high nine catches for 78 receiving yards.

-Linebacker Scooby Wright led the defense with 11 tackles and three tackles for a loss.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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