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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football vs. UTEP: Wildcats get an all-around team win to get their second win of the season

Arizona+wide+receiver+Tetairoa+McMillan+%284%29+dodges+a+tackle%2C+resulting+in+a+touchdown+against+UTEP+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+16+at+Arizona+Stadium.+The+Wildcats+won+the+game+31-10%2C+improving+to+2-1+on+the+season.
Amelia McAnear
Arizona wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan (4) dodges a tackle, resulting in a touchdown against UTEP on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats won the game 31-10, improving to 2-1 on the season.

The Arizona football team took on the University of Texas at El Paso on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats were able to bounce back from a tough loss last weekend against Mississippi State University and secure their second win of the season against UTEP 31-10.

The Wildcats’ dominance over the Miners continued in this matchup, with quarterback Jayden de Laura eliminating the turnovers that haunted him last week, and several Wildcats having standout performances in this all-around team victory.

Offense:

Head coach Jedd Fisch praised the offensive efficiency, singling out de Laura for his stellar performance. Fisch noted that de Laura had put the turnovers that marred his previous game behind him and played some of the cleanest football of his career. 

Tetairoa McMillan’s contribution to the offense was particularly noteworthy. Despite a few mishaps early in the game, McMillan made a spectacular circus catch over the middle while in double-coverage. Unfortunately, the subsequent field goal attempt was blocked, allowing UTEP to quickly advance into the UA red zone after a 51-yard catch where no Wildcat covered running back Torrance Burgess Jr. coming out of the backfield. McMillan finished the night with six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Post-game, Fisch lauded the impressive catches made by McMillan, describing them as “big-time catches” that came naturally to him.

Also on the offensive front, wide receiver Jacob Cowing had a standout performance, hauling in 10 receptions for 84 yards and scoring a crucial touchdown. This marked a significant improvement from his previous game, where he seemed out of sync with de Laura. Against his former team, Cowing‘s routes were crisper, and he showcased his explosive playmaking abilities.

Running back Michael Wiley also had a solid outing, rushing for 83 yards and scoring a touchdown.

Wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig was even able to get a 4-yard touchdown pass, after a strip fumble recovery, marking his first in an Arizona uniform. He finished with two receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown

Defense:

Despite UTEP (1-3) gaining 332 yards, the most allowed by Arizona this season, the Miners struggled to find success on the ground, amassing just 49 rushing yards on 26 carries. Arizona‘s defense recorded three sacks, forced seven punts and a turnover on downs and recovered a forced fumble.

The defensive unit was led by linebacker Justin Flowe, who recorded 11 tackles and showcased his versatility in both run defense and pass coverage. Flowe‘s presence on the field was felt throughout the game, as he consistently found himself near the ball carrier. Despite not being known for his pass coverage skills, Flowe also made impactful plays during passing situations.

Then safety Gunner Maldonado made the remarkable play of ripping the ball from UTEP running back Mike Franklin, setting up Lemonious-Craig for his first touchdown as a Wildcat

Arizona’s defense continued to impress, with cornerback Tacario Davis breaking up two passes in the end zone in the second quarter to force the Miners to kick a field goal. Linebacker Jacob Manu once again made his presence felt with six tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack.

Maldonado acknowledged the defense’s progress, stating, “We’re getting coached hard […] [and] just trying to get better each and every day.”

Overall, the Wildcats’ defense played a pivotal role in securing the victory. The Wildcats have now allowed only 44 points over their last three games

Moving forward:

With this victory, the Wildcats put last week’s missed opportunity behind them and showcased an improved offensive performance. Looking ahead, Arizona will kick off Pac-12 play next Saturday, Sept. 23, against Stanford University on the road, aiming to end their six-game losing streak against the Cardinal.


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