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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats lose to Washington State in front of sad crowd

Ryan+Revock%2FThe+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+senior+quarterback+B.J.+Denker+runs+the+ball+against+Washington+State+on+Saturday+at+Arizona+Stadium.++
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock/The Daily Wildcat UA senior quarterback B.J. Denker runs the ball against Washington State on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

Fresh off the Wildcats’ disappointing loss last week to UCLA, a sparse crowd witnessed a beaten and lifeless Arizona team fall victim to the hangover effect as it lost to Washington State 24-17 on Saturday afternoon.

Arizona fans were dispersed throughout the half-empty Arizona Stadium, with six Arizona fans perched at the very top of section 201, the highest seats and farthest from the field, with a bird’s eye view of the action.

“Poor execution,” said Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez of his team. “Didn’t play well, didn’t coach well. A comedy of errors.

“I was concerned [going into the game] because it was a long stretch and we had a emotional game last week,” he added.

This was the seventh consecutive game where the Wildcats (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) gave up a first-quarter touchdown.

The touchdown occurred on the Cougars’ (5-5, 3-4) second possession. WSU uncharacteristically ran down the field for a 60-yard touchdown scoring drive.

By the end of the first quarter, Arizona’s defense had given up 69 rushing yards, 16.9 more than WSU was averaging per entire game, an ominous sign of things to come.

The early touchdown by the Cougars was nothing for the lonely fans in 201 to be too concerned about. However, the three consecutive possessions of 60 or more yards were.

“They ran the ball more than usual,” said defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert. “We knew they were going to pass the ball a lot, and that’s what they did today, but we weren’t ready.”

Arizona junior running back Ka’Deem Carey did what he’s done all year and put life into the Wildcats. Carey ended the first quarter on a 30-yard bulldozing touchdown run. Then two possessions later, he had a 7-yard touchdown reception to give Arizona a 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter.

While Carey was doing all he could to assist in Arizona’s revival, so, it seemed, was WSU. The Cougars committed costly penalties, struggled to convert on third down and threw a midfield interception.

Arizona, though, rejected their help, finishing the game 2-4 from the red zone.

With less of ZonaZoo watching at the start of the second half, Arizona needed Carey to be its lifesaver more than ever.

But even Carey and his 132 total rushing yards this game couldn’t help the Wildcats team.

“I don’t think we opened enough holes for Ka’Deem [Carey] all game,” Rodriguez said. “Our margin for error is very slim and if we play poorly, it will be hard for us to win.”

More failed offensive drives and turnovers gave the Cougars a 17-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Then a dead-looking Wildcats defense failed to contain WSU’s offense by missing tackles and eventually giving up a late go-ahead touchdown.

Trailing by a touchdown with 2:15 left in the game, Arizona had one last chance, just as it had one week ago against the Bruins.

Hectically driving down the field, UA quarterback B.J. Denker gave a last heave to the end zone from about 13 yards out, but his pass was out of reach for a well-covered Samajie Grant.

“Saw a team trying to fight,” said receiver Terrence Miller of the final drive. “Just didn’t go our way.”

As for our onlookers posted in section 201, they missed the ending along with a number of fans who had given up on the Wildcats after last week’s loss.

“[The small crowd] didn’t really matter,” Miller said. “We still got to come out and play football.”

Announced attendance was 42,080, the second-smallest home crowd of the season.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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