The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

79° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ducks down UA’s Rose Bowl dreams

Alan+Walsh%2FArizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Just when it seemed like the Arizona football team was in control, it wasn’t. Just when it seemed like Arizona was going to beat Pacific 10 Conference leading Oregon, the Ducks stormed back to tie the game in the final seconds before winning in double overtime.

In a truly unpredictable finish, the Wildcats (6-4, 4-3 Pac-10) let one slip away as they lost 44-41 to No. 11 Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-10) Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

“”We had a little momentum there late in the game and just lost it in the fourth quarter,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”Credit obviously to Oregon. They made some plays down the stretch, some incredible plays. Jeremiah Masoli, that’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time.””

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was nearly unstoppable. The junior signal caller completed 26-of-47 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns. But it was his 16 rushes for 61 yards and three more scores that proved to be the difference in a back-and-forth game.

And even when Masoli faltered, the ball just bounced his way. He fumbled two times during the game and each time an Oregon player was close enough to pounce on the ball and prevent disaster.

Out of all three of the Wildcats’ Pac-10 losses, the loss to the Ducks hurt the most.

“”This was just such a heart-breaking loss,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”It’s difficult to swallow, that’s for sure.””

Difficult for many reasons, but mostly because the Wildcats nearly had the game won. Arizona led by 10 points early in the fourth quarter before Oregon staged a furious comeback to tie the game at 24 with 8:02 left to play. However, 22 seconds later the Wildcats answered right back on a 71-yard catch and run by sophomore wide out Juron Criner who finished the night with 5 catches for 93 yards and three touchdowns.

A large group of overly-excited UA fans thought that 7-point cushion was enough for Arizona and started lining the field with roughly three minutes left in the game, expecting to rush the field after an upset-win. But a 7-point deficit wasn’t too large for one of the most dynamic offenses in the country to overcome, and the Ducks sent most of the 57,863 fans at Arizona Stadium home with an empty feeling.

“”I’ve been in double overtime, triple overtime, that’s why I didn’t flinch,”” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. “”Our guys didn’t flinch. We’ve been in this situation before. We practice overtime situations, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.””

The Ducks appeared calm in overtime and made a pair of huge plays during the extra sessions, one to force a second overtime and the other to win the game on the final play.

Oregon junior wide receiver Jeff Maehl made a spectacular leaping catch on a 3rd-down play in the first overtime — his 12th grab of the game to give him 114 yards and two scores on the night — and the ensuing extra point knotted the game at 38.

But it was Masoli who put the final nail in the Wildcats’ coffin. After a UA field goal on its possession in the second extra frame, Masoli wasted little time as he found tight end Ed Dickson on the West sideline for a 23-yard gain. That gave the Ducks a 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line and three plays later Masoli bowled his way into the end zone for the game-winning score.

“”We’re a play away from beating a very good football team,”” Mark Stoops said. “”As bad as I feel and as bad as our defense is going to feel because we had a chance to win the game and ice the game, you have to look at the character of our players and how far we’ve come. You have to take salvation in the big picture because otherwise it will kill us right now because it hurts.””

More to Discover
Activate Search