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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Trojan takedown

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Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

LOS ANGELES — For the first time since 2000, the Arizona football team took down USC, and the UA squad’s rendition of “”Bear Down”” could be heard loud and clear through the cement walls of the 76-year-old stadium as the Wildcats celebrated a 21-17 win against then-No. 20 USC.

Arizona (8-4, 6-3 Pacific 10 Conference) faced a 3-point deficit in the final minutes against USC (8-4, 5-4), but the Wildcats found their groove when they needed to and took down the Trojans Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

With the win, Arizona, now ranked No. 22, moved into a tie for second place in the Pac-10, while USC tumbled to its lowest point in the past eight seasons. Regardless of the Trojans’ struggles this season, UA head coach Mike Stoops said any win against USC is something to be proud of.

“”I know what kind of players, I know what kind of program they are. To win on the road against this caliber of team, you have to be very good in a lot of different ways and that’s the thing I’m probably most proud of,”” Stoops said of his first win against USC. “”It tells us that we are a good program and we’re building on the right things. I think our discipline and our toughness show every time we step on the field, and you can’t win close games without it.””

That toughness was on display from the game’s opening whistle as the Wildcats and Trojans traded blows in a defensive battle. Arizona controlled most of the first half, thanks in large part to stellar play from redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bug Wright.

In the first half, Wright had five catches for 66 yards, but the most important was a 19-yard gain in the second quarter. With Arizona facing a third-down-and-13 play, UA quarterback Nick Foles lobbed a pass down the left sideline and the 5-foot-9 Wright leaped up to make the catch at the 2-yard line.

“”I told Nick before the play, ‘If you go to me man, just throw it up and just give me a chance,'”” Wright said. “”I got some bounce, man. I can jump a little bit. I told him to give me a chance to make a play on the ball. He threw a perfect ball and I just went up and grabbed it and came down with it.””

Two plays later, the Wildcats scored on a 1-yard run by Foles to push the score to 14-7 in Arizona’s favor — a margin the team would take with it into the halftime break.

But the Trojans turned up their intensity in third quarter. USC held the ball for exactly 11 minutes in the quarter and knotted the score at 14 late in the period on a 5-yard run by tailback Allen Bradford. Arizona only managed 27 yards in the quarter and couldn’t find its rhythm until it absolutely had to late in the game.

“”We got down, and sometimes you might fold up shop and we were able to put a drive together and go win,”” said UA outside receivers coach Dave Nichol. “”It was unbelievable, just the mental aspect of our players.””

The Wildcats drove 80 yards in 10 plays — including going 3-for-3 on third downs — on the game-deciding drive. For the winning score, Foles changed plays from a run to a pass and hit a streaking Juron Criner in stride down the left sideline for a 36-yard catch and touchdown run.

The score left the Trojans in a bad spot with less than four minutes left in the game and no timeouts to help them. After a sack by UA defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, USC quarterback Matt Barkley heaved three straight incomplete passes and gave the Wildcats a chance to run all but three seconds off of the clock.

On the final play of the game, it was again Mitchell who sacked Barkley and sealed the win for the Wildcats.

“”It’s like getting over a little hump, especially with Stoops because now he’s beaten every team in the Pac-10 so he can hold his head high,”” said senior linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka. “”Recruiting-wise too, this will help. It’s just a great victory for our team.””

 

Key Stats of the Game

Offensive Yards — UA 321, USC 282

Passing Yards — UA 239, USC 144

Time of Possession — UA 31:18, USC 28:42

3rd-down Conversions — UA 9-of-17, USC 5-of-13

Sacks — UA 3, USC 0

Redzone Touchdowns — UA 2-for-2, USC 2-for-3

 

Impact Players of the Game

UANick Foles, QB, 8 — 22-of-40 for 239 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception, 1 rush for 1 yards and 1 TD

UAJuron Criner, WR, 82 — 6 catches for 71 yards and 1 TD, 3 rushes for 19 yards

UAEarl Mitchell, DT, 49 — 6 tackles (5 solo), 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss

USCAllen Bradford, RB, 21 — 11 carries for 66 yards and 1 TD

USCRonald Johnson, WR, 8 — 5 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD

USC — Taylor Mays, S, 2 — 9 tackles (4 solo), 2 passes broken up

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