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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Devils drop the ball

Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

TEMPE — An unlucky play in Seattle cost the Arizona football team a win, and a bad bounce in Berkeley dealt the Wildcats another tough loss in Pacific 10 Conference play. But against ASU, the ball bounced in Arizona’s favor and gave the Wildcats (7-4, 5-3 Pac-10) a last-second win against the Sun Devils (4-8, 2-7 Pac-10).

“”I think you’ve got to believe the situations even out through life and through football. It’s got to, it doesn’t make any other sense,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops.

This Saturday, before 55,989 fans at Sun Devil Stadium, the Wildcats had a difficult time getting anything going offensively. Aside from sophomore running back Keola Antolin’s 67-yard touchdown run, Arizona only mustered 198 yards of offense. With the Sun Devils’ defense living up to its reputation, half the Wildcats’ points came from big special teams plays.

Sophomore Orlando Vargas blocked an ASU punt, corralled the loose ball and scampered 23 yards for a touchdown, giving Arizona a 14-0 lead going into halftime. But it was an odd play at the end of the game that turned the tide in the Wildcats’ favor.

After ASU senior wideout Kyle Williams willed his team back into the game — hauling in two touchdown grabs in the fourth quarter, the second of which, with 2:02 left in the contest, tied the game at 17 — UA redshirt junior Mike Turner made the most of an opportunity to change the game.

Williams was standing at the ASU 22-yard line and positioned himself to field the oncoming punt, but he didn’t catch the ball cleanly.

“”I just ran down there and the next thing you know, boop, it was in my hands,”” Turner said with a smile.

Turner scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone, but unlike a fumble, a defensive player can’t advance a muffed punt. That gave the Wildcats the ball with 1:03 left in the game and ASU out of timeouts. Arizona ran the ball three times and called its last timeout with five seconds remaining, setting the stage for sophomore kicker Alex Zendejas.

“”I’ve been anxious to get into this position the whole year,”” said Zendejas, a Glendale native. “”We’ve been close a couple of times, and (Saturday) it felt good to have the chance in front of my home town.””

The win was Arizona’s second in a row against ASU, but this one held a special significance. The win in Tempe against a scrappy ASU squad reminded UA’s players that nothing should be taken for granted.

“”It was just a good feeling coming out here and hearing all the talking that they had and beating those guys at the last second,”” said UA senior wide receiver Terrell Turner. “”Coach Mike said it was going to be a 60-minute game and he was right, exactly 60 minutes on the dot.””

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