TUCSON, AZ – It was a great effort that ultimately ended in a tough loss, as the Arizona Football team (0-1, 0-1) dropped a 34-30 nail biter to USC (2-0, 2-0).
It was a game that not many anticipated the Wildcats would even be in, as the Arizona Football team nearly came away with victory. However, mistakes and a lack of defensive depth resulted in 34-30 loss.
Grant Gunnell went 24-36 with 286 yards passing three touchdowns to just one interception, Gary Brightwell ran 112 yards on 21 carries, and the defense stood tall all things considered, but it wasn’t enough.
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Coming in, we knew this game was going to be a tough one. The Trojans have a lot of talent and a lot of experience, and given peoples’ bleak outlook on Arizona’s season, it seemed obvious the Wildcats would struggle here.
My how we and a lot of others were wrong. Despite starting the opening drive off with a pick, Arizona rebounded nicely, keeping pace with Trojans for the entire first half.
Trailing 7-0 with nearly nine minutes left in the first quarter, Gunnell connected to Jamarye Joiner on a 34-yard touchdown pass that ultimately tied the game.
On the ensuing drive, USC would regain the lead on a field goal, and after an unsuccessful attempt by Lucas Havrisik from 42-yards out, he would get a chance to redeem himself on the very next drive from 25-yards out to tie it at 10-10.
Unfortunately the Trojans would score again before the half, and fortunately for us, they left time for Arizona to respond and score before the break.
Needing points as they trailed 17-10, Arizona went on a 9-play, 57-yard drive that resulted in another Havrisik field goal, this time from 32-yards.
In the second half, USC did score pretty early on a field goal to extend their lead to 20-13, however, it was UA’s defense that stood tall in the quarter, holding the Trojans to just those three points.
Arizona would eventually tie the game, when Gunnell connected with Tayvian Cunningham for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 20-20 with 9:45 left in the third quarter.
A few possessions later, stilled tied 20-20, Arizona would drive 45-yards on 10 plays, setting up Havrisik for a 51-yard field goal attempt, which he ultimately drilled to give the Wildcats the lead, albeit briefly.
Naturally, on the ensuing drive, the Trojans would march 75-yards on 11 plays, that resulted in yet another touchdown that gave them the lead at 27-23 with 3:30 to play.
With enough time to move and score, Arizona did just that, responding with an 8-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that lasted just 1:55. Unfortunately for us, the Arizona was too quick.
Having 1:35 left on the clock, the Trojans took advantage of Arizona’s lack of depth on defense, absolutely punishing the Wildcats. Just as we have seen over and over again, and could have all predicted, USC drove relentlessly, scoring the go ahead touchdown to pull ahead with just 25 seconds left.
Arizona did have a chance to pull off the upset, when USC quarterback Kedon Slovis threw a bit of an errant pass, however, in typical Wildcat fashion, the ball slipped through the extended hands of cornerback, Christian Roland-Wallace, that resulted in a 19-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The next play, USC would score the winning touchdown.
With just 25 seconds left to play, Arizona would see their upset attempt come up short. 34-30, ball game.
With the loss, the Wildcats drop to 0-1 (0-1), and with all the moral victories here, it still doesn’t change the fact that Arizona is 0-1, and could capitalize on a good opportunity.
At Zona Zealots, we are proud of the way the Cats battled, and hope Arizona can use this game to build off of. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!