LOS ANGELES, CA – Despite the valiant effort by the Wildcats, Arizona Football (3-3, 1-2) fell to No. 9 USC (6-0, 4-0) in triple overtime.
Despite leading 17-0 after the first 15+ minutes of play, Arizona Football showed no flinch from the opening kickoff against host, No. 9 USC. Unfortunately, the Wildcats couldn’t hang on.
Holding Heisman frontrunner Caleb Williams to a season-low 205 yards passing and only one passing touchdown, it ultimately, wasn’t enough as the Wildcats fell to the Trojans in triple overtime by a 43-41 final.
Unlike its previous games this season, the Wildcats started fast in this one, jumping all over the Trojans as they held USC to three consecutive three-and-outs.
Noah Fifita would finish the game with an impressive 302 yards passing and five touchdowns to just one interception on 25-35 passing (71 percent), as the redshirt freshman was stellar once again.
He would get things going early too! On the Wildcats’ first possession, Arizona would drive 60 yards on eight plays that ended in a Tyler Loop field goal to make it 3-0, Cats.
After another three-and-out, Arizona responded in kind again, this time marching 64 yards on 10 plays that ended in a 23-yard touchdown strike to Jacob Cowing to make it 10-0, Arizona.
But the Wildcats weren’t done! Holding USC’s powerful offense once again, Arizona would subsequently march 92 yards on 11 plays that would end in another spectacular touchdown throw and catch from tight end to Tyler McLachlan to make it 17-0.
Unfortunately, we knew Arizona’s defense wouldn’t be able to hold USC scoreless forever.
USC would end the half with back-to-back touchdown drives, cutting Arizona’s lead to just three as they entered the half.
Leading 17-14, Arizona Football would need to find its rhythm again if they were going to somehow score the upset in this one.
Getting the ball to start the half, the Wildcats’ offense would find a bit of a rhythm again, driving 70 yards on seven plays before settling for a field goal to make it 20-14.
Unfortunately, Arizona’s defense would be put to the test in the second half. Responding with back-to-back touchdown drives again, USC would take the lead at 28-20 with 12:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Luckily for us, the Wildcats wouldn’t go quietly. Needing a spark on offense, Noah and the Cats would deliver, driving 75 yards on 10 plays that ended in another Jacob touchdown, which was followed by a two-point conversion to Tetairoa McMillan to make it 28-28.
After the defense stood tall on the ensuing USC drive, the Wildcats would have a chance to take the lead.
Moving the ball well to start, the offense then stalled around the USC 36 before Arizona would settle for a field goal attempt from 50 yards.
While it had the distance, the kick sailed left, leaving the door open for the Trojans to respond.
Marching down the field, it looked like USC was destined to score time waning, but after some uncharacteristic errors made by the offense, SC settled for a field goal that was ultimately missed after a botched snap and hold from USC’s special teams.
Overtime we go!
Giving USC the ball first, Arizona would hold USC to 3rd and 17, but following a QB scamper from Caleb, he would find the end zone, making it 35-28, Trojans.
Needing a touchdown to extend the game, Arizona would respond! Only needing one play, Noah would find Cowing once again in the end zone on a beautiful touchdown strike to make it 35-35 after the successful extra point.
Starting with the ball in the second overtime, Arizona would march the field, finding the end zone once again when Noah connected with Cowing from seven yards out to make it 41-35. Needing to go for two points, Arizona would fail to connect with Cowing.
Giving USC the ball, the Trojans would be put in a tough spot. A couple of mistakes put them in a 2nd and 19 situation, but on the ensuing play, the Trojans would pick up the first down, followed by a touchdown from Williams on the next play.
USC’s two-point conversion would fail as well.
With the change in the college overtime format, USC would then start with the ball at the two-yard line, getting one try to make a two-point conversion.
Lining behind center, Williams would pull the ball and run to the right, sneaking the ball into the end zone for two points.
With the game on the line and needing to score, Arizona would draw up a run play that was snuffed out from the get-go, delivering the win to the Trojans as the Wildcats were unable to score.
With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 3-3 (1-2) on the year and will turn its focus to Washington State next week as Arizona will travel to Pullman, WA to take on yet another Top 25 team.