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The Daily Wildcat

 

Key plays go against Wildcats in Foster Farms Bowl loss to Boilermakers

Key+plays+go+against+Wildcats+in+Foster+Farms+Bowl+loss+to+Boilermakers
Heather Newberry

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—The Arizona Wildcats football team rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit but ultimately came up short in a 38-35 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday night. The loss ends the Wildcats season at 7-6, after starting 6-2. 

The loss, however, did not come without added controversy.

Before halftime, in an apparent kneel down scenario by Purdue, the Boilermakers ran a fake and running back D.J. Knox took the ball 30 yards down field, which ended in a field goal before the half. 

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and other defensive players said that referees told the Wildcats not to rush, so they were left unprepared and the play was a crucial one with just a 3-point advantage at game’s end.

At the start, the Boilermakers busted through the gates during the first quarter by marching down the field for their first touchdown within 4 minutes after kickoff. Arizona would respond, however as quarterback Khalil Tate managed to throw touchdowns to Shawn Poindexter from 31-yards out and Tony Ellison from 29-yards, allowing the Wildcats to get some points on the board and take the lead.

But Purdue would rattle off 24 unanswered points before the half. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar and the rest of the Boilermaker offense would amass 371 total yards in the first half to take a 17-point lead going into the break.

“We didn’t play well all the first half, we couldn’t get any pressure, we let the quarterback get way too comfortable…we just played really poorly defensively,” Rodriguez said. 

But confidence was not lost according to UA quarterback Khalil Tate.

“The game isn’t over until the fat lady sings,”Tate said. “ So we keep on playing with the mentality that we are going to win, we never thought about losing.”

His words were evident in the second half as the Wildcats, behind a 302-yard and five touchdown passing performance by Tate, came back to take the lead late in the fourth.

“[In the locker room] we discussed just sticking to the game plan,” UA linebacker Tony Fields II said. “I don’t think we were ever concerned, we just needed to come out and make more plays and that was our goal.”

Arizona managed to turn around their defensive performance in the second half, shutting out Purdue until the games final moments. 

“In the second half, we played much better defensively, we tackled better, got a little more pressure, a little more momentum,” Rodriguez said. “They did a really good job and I’m proud of how they did better.”

Despite the turnaround defensively, the Boilermakers regained their footing and drove the field before Sindelar threw a 38-yard touchdown to Anthony Mahoungou, to take the lead 38-35 with 1:44 left on the clock.

For Arizona, the magic Tate supplied on the drive before would run out. Rolling to his right, Tate overthrew receiver Shun Brown directly into the waiting arms of Boilermaker safety Jacob Thieneman to end the game.

“There are many plays we’d like to have back or a lot of plays we wish we could do better,” Rodriguez said. “When you get in a situation like that, it’s very frustrating but that is what we’re going to work on defensively during the offseason.”

The win by Purdue left Arizona winless at 0-3 all-time against the Boilermakers. 


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