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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stoops takes fall for loss

    After the game clock had ticked down to its final seconds of New Mexico’s 29-27 upset over Arizona, head coach Mike Stoops jogged off the field accompanied by two security guards, receiving a smattering of boos.

    A fan wearing an Arizona football jersey shouted obscenities at Stoops, calling for his job, yelling things so vulgar that Stoops had to nearly cover his face with his visor.

    Perhaps embarrassed by his team’s second loss of the season to a Mountain West Conference opponent, Stoops took full responsibility for the outcome.

    “”We just didn’t have the discipline, didn’t coach as well as we needed to and that obviously starts with me,”” he said. “”That’s probably the most disappointing part of it.””

    The head coach cited numerous deficiencies in his team’s performance, like turning the ball over twice in the red zone and a lack of defensive stops, but he also blamed himself for something that happened at the end of the first half.

    Leading 13-7, Arizona (1-2) was on its own 35-yard line when three consecutive pass plays were called. The end result was a two-yard loss, which forced the Wildcats to punt on fourth down with 1:08 remaining.

    After the turnover on downs, the Lobos (2-1) ran two consecutive running plays, totaling seven yards.

    On third-down-and-three from New Mexico’s own 27-yard line, Stoops called timeout with 32 seconds remaining.

    Stoops called his decision a mistake.

    “”I’m probably disappointed in myself more than anything else,”” he said. “”It was just getting greedy, and you can’t do that in this game. You gotta play it by the book and I certainly didn’t.””

    “”I made a bad mistake on third down before the half,”” Stoops added. “”That was foolish. That wasn’t very smart on my part. That was on me.””

    The next play was an 18-yard pass from New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie to Marcus Smith, which pulled the trigger for a Lobos touchdown.

    New Mexico called a timeout, and then had a 13-yard gain which took the clock down to 17 seconds. Before the next play could even be called, the Arizona sideline was flagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving New Mexico an extra 15 yards.

    Arizona had been warned 1:04 into the game.

    From the 32-yard line, Porterie was sacked. After calling their final timeout, Porterie connected with Travis Brown for a 38-yard touchdown.

    Lobo kicker John Sullivan added the extra point, and the Wildcats never recovered the lead.

    “”In my three-plus years here, this was far and away our most undisciplined team tonight, and again, the discipline is my responsibility,”” Stoops said. “”That’s something we need to get shored up.””

    Arizona put up 484 yards of total offense, but also gave up 421 yards.

    The difference in the game came in the third quarter when quarterback Willie Tuitama was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a New Mexico safety, giving them a 19-13 lead.

    Tuitama, who finished the game with a career-high 446 yards, the second most in UA history, attempted to lead his team downfield trailing by two with just under two minutes to play. After two long passes fell incomplete to Wildcat receivers, Tuitama was picked off on the New Mexico 40-yard line, sealing the game for the Lobos.

    The Wildcats had three turnovers for the entire game, including Tuitama’s late interception.

    “”When you lose the turnover battle you usually lose the game,”” said cornerback Antoine Cason. “”Too many turnovers caused us to lose the game. We can’t lose the turnover battle. We need to come out and play football the way we know how to play.””

    At the end of the third quarter, the Wildcats trailed 26-13. The team was able to get back in the game, scoring an early touchdown to make the score 26-20, but Sullivan made a 44-yard field goal with 6:41 to play.

    “”We had a lot of unselfish and a lot of uninflected wounds,”” wide receiver Mike Thomas said. “”Little things were hindering us but when it’s all said and done we’ve got to come out with these kinds of victories.””

    Late Hits

    Stoops said four players were suspended indefinitely following an incident that occurred Thursday night. He did not specify which players were involved.

    Freshman Nick Grigsby, who not only promised a rushing touchdown for Arizona, but was supposed to be a huge part of the running back committee, may be one of those players. He never entered the game, following a week where he had nine carries for 58 yards.

    Stoops also said associate head coach and linebackers coach Tim Kish has been away since Monday as he is attending to his father in the hospital.

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