BOULDER, CO – Finding themselves in a battle all game, No. 23 Arizona Football (7-3, 5-2) was able to escape against Colorado by a 34-31 final.
The mark of a great team is finding ways to win when you’re not at your best, and boy was No. 23 Arizona Football not at its best.
On a cool, crisp afternoon in Boulder, CO, the Wildcats found themselves in battle against a scrappy and upset-minded Colorado team on Senior Day.
Unlike the defense we’ve seen the past few weeks, the Wildcats were tested significantly in this one as they gave up 352 yards of offense (252 passing) and 31 points as they let Shedeur Sanders and the Buffaloes offense do pretty much anything they wanted.
As Arizona made adjustments at halftime and held Colorado to just seven, second-half points, the Wildcats were able to make enough plays in the end (literally), to win this one.
Fueled by a balanced offensive attack, Noah Fifita wasn’t his sharpest, but still had an impressive 214 yards passing on 21-35 passing (60 percent), as the redshirt freshman threw for two touchdowns. He even did this without Jacob Cowing in the fourth quarter, who left the game with an injury.
Behind him, the Wildcats rushed for an astounding, 207 total yards and two touchdowns (both by DJ Williams) with Jonah Coleman leading the way, rushing for a game-high 179 yards on 11 attempts meanwhile DJ ran for 33 yards on nine attempts.
Despite the strong, offensive performance, things didn’t necessarily start that way!
Arizona would hold Colorado to a quick, three-and-out to begin the game, but as the Buffaloes would get the ball back, they would respond in a big way, driving 36 yards on three plays as Sanders capitalized on a 16-yard touchdown scamper to make it 7-0.
Arizona would answer as they went 75 yards on a masterful, six-play drive that ended in an 11-yard touchdown rush by DJ to make it 7-7!
A few series later, Colorado would answer again, this time driving 48 yards as Sanders connected with Jimmy Horn, Jr. on a well-placed, 20-yard touchdown strike that gave the Buffaloes the lead back at 14-7.
Arizona would respond again, driving 72 yards on five plays that ended in a Noah to Jacob Cowing touchdown connection from three yards that made it 14-14.
Unfortunately, Colorado wouldn’t go quietly, once again answering with a massive, 75-yard drive that lasted 5:20 on 10 plays, eventually ending in a Sy’veon Wilkerson one-yard touchdown plunge to make it 21-14.
Luckily, Arizona responded again, this time driving 25 yards on six plays before settling for a 52-yard field goal to cut Colorado’s lead to 21-17 with 1:32 to play.
Unfortunately, that was too much time for Colorado as the Buffaloes were able to capitalize, driving 54 yards on seven plays as they connected on a 39-yard field to end the half.
Trailing 24-17 at the break, No. 23 Arizona Football would need a better effort all around if they were to win this one.
Getting the ball to start the half, the Wildcats’ offense would finally find its rhythm, driving 75 yards on five plays as Noah connected with former high school teammate Tetairoa McMillan on a spectacular, one-handed touchdown grab to even the game at 24-24.
Trading possessions, Colorado would finally find the end zone again, this time as Sanders connected with Michael Harrison on a seven-yard touchdown strike to make it 31-24.
Needing another huge response, Arizona delivered! This time driving 75 yards on six plays as Arizona ended its drive with a seven-yard touchdown rush from DJ (his second of the game) to tie things at 31-31.
That’s when both offenses would go cold. Trading possessions without points, Colorado would have a chance to take the lead with 5:04, but Buffaloes kicker Alejandro Mata was unable to capitalize, just missing his 44-yard attempt, leaving the door open for Arizona.
Luckily, the Wildcats would respond in kind, this time driving 67 yards on 11 plays on a momentum-killing drive that lasted the full 4:57 of game time as Arizona set up Loop for a 24-yard field goal.
With seconds waning, Loop would send the ball through the uprights as time expired, delivering the win for the Wildcats!
Ball game! Arizona 34, Colorado 31.
With the victory, the Wildcats improve to 7-3 (5-2) on the year and now turn its focus to a massive matchup against Top 25 Utah this week!