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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The great escape

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.

The weakest link of the 2010 Arizona Wildcats was supposed to be the defense.

Saturday night, however, the No. 14 Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Pacific 10 Conference) proved that it was the offense that needed some welding.

Despite having just over 300 yards of total offense, Arizona managed to pull off a clutch 10-9 comeback victory over the California Golden Bears on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

“”We missed a lot of opportunities on offense, and we were very fortunate to get that last opportunity and we capitalized on it,”” said Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. “”To play on offense not as well as we wanted to and have the defense step up, and special teams, and to come out at the end, go down and have a game winning drive again, it shows what kind of team we have.””

With the score 9-3 in favor of the Bears with 6:58 left on the clock, Cal (2-2, 0-1) began a drive with hopes to ice the game. The Bears moved into Wildcat territory and looked to capitalize on a field goal opportunity to increase their lead to 12-3 but Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed his second field goal of the night, shanking the kick right of the uprights.

“”They missed the field goal, we knew we had a chance. We never lost confidence,”” said cornerback Robert Golden. “”I didn’t know it was going to turn out like this, but like coach Stoops says, we’ve got to be ready for every game situation that we step into.””

For the first time in the game, the Arizona offense didn’t miss the opportunity.

Foles led the Wildcats down the field with 2:37 left on the clock. Running back Nic Grigsby, who finished with 65 rushing yards on the night, converted on a crucial third-and-five to keep the game-winning drive alive.

Despite being quieted throughout the contest, receiver Juron Criner had the catch of the game when Foles threw up a jump ball and Criner hauled it in for a 51-yard completion.

“”They single-covered (Criner), a lot throughout the night,”” Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. “”And they won a lot of those matchups and (Criner) finally got them when it mattered the most.””

The completion set up the Wildcats in the red zone at the Cal 12 yard line. Four plays later with a third-and-one situation at the Cal 3 yard line, Foles hit Criner in the end zone to give Arizona the win and the only touchdown of the night.

Safety Joe Perkins sealed the deal with an interception for Cal’s only turnover of the night with less than a minute remaining on the game clock.

Arizona’s offense had been out of rhythm all night, as drives were stifled by penalties and incompletions. Arizona had five penalties for 64 yards in the first half alone and had 10 penalties for 99 yards by the end of the night.

“”It’s a huge concern, probably as much as anything, to have another 12 or 13 penalty night,”” Stoops said. “”To be able to overcome that, lose the turnover battle and still win the game, there’s a lot to be thankful for.””

Two field goals by Tavecchio were the only points either team had to show by the end of the first half.

The Wildcats finally got on the board with 10:16 remaining on the clock in the third quarter. At the time, Arizona’s defense had given up 94 yards and the Wildcats had 69 penalty yards.

The defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the third game this year.

“”I’m very proud. A lot of people underestimated us in the summertime, for us to come out there and play with that chip on our shoulder in game four, it says a lot about our character on defense,”” Golden said. “”It shows how much heart we have on defense.””

The Wildcats improve to 1-0 in Pac-10 play and have a bye week before hosting Oregon State for the final game of a four-game home stand.  

“”It’s exactly where I wanted to be. Four and zero is great for what our plan is, and we stayed focused,”” Foles said. “”To have a bye week get everyone healthy and be 4-0 is huge.””

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