Wildcats turnover win to Utes
Three interceptions and two fumbles lead to Arizona's demise on Friday
To say the Arizona Wildcats had their chances Friday night to upset the visiting No. 23 Utah Utes would be an understatement. With two opportunities for the go-ahead score, the Wildcats bungled both of them and lost 30-24, falling to an overall record of 2-2, 0-1 in conference play.
It was a game that was there for the taking as Utah could not seem to put the pesky Wildcats away, led mostly by an up-and-coming defense that more than held their own against a dynamic offensive attack. However, quarterback Brandon Dawkins followed up his great outing against UTEP a week ago with a performance he’d much sooner forget.
Dawkins turned the ball over twice in a matter of minutes and ultimately cost the Wildcats an opportunity to pull the game out in thrilling fashion. Dawkins ran for over 100 yards on the day but completed 24 of 42 passes for 248 yards along with three interceptions and a fumble. One of those interceptions was thrown directly to linebacker Javelin Guidry who returned it 14 yards for a score to put Utah up 10.
“I’ve been a few of these and it just kind of comes with the position,” Dawkins said. “…Hats off to Utah, they played terrific on defense.”
Dawkins wasn’t the only one that had errors on the evening.
Running back J.J. Taylor fumbled the ball in the first half at the ten-yard line, Nick Wilson was open with no one within Pima County around him and dropped a pass that could have resulted in a score, a missed wide open Trevor Wood on a fourth down play and the special teams allowed two blocked field goals. It was a comedy of errors, except nothing was funny about the Wildcats falling to 2-2 on this day.
The Utes were kept in the game by timely scores and the ability to capitalize off Arizona turnovers, five in total. But this was hardly a game where the Utah offense dominated. The Utes amassed just 341 yards of total offense compared to Arizona’s 448. Turnovers will keep you in the game and in Utah’s case they were more fortunate than dominant team Friday.
“It was pretty frustrating, in a lot of areas, a lot of ways,” said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. “Some probably obvious if you’re an Arizona fan.”
As Rodriguez drank his water in disgust over the lost opportunity his team just had, the question was asked whether he considered replacing Dawkins, who had by most estimations cost his team opportunities to win in the game.
“He was doing good, then he’d make a mistake,” Rodriguez said. “He competes but nothing serious, he’s trying.”
Breakdowns occur during a game but these made it hard to swallow for those in attendance. One play Dawkins can thread a needle hitting receiver Tony Ellison for a 30-yard score, the next he can throw it into not one but two defenders, each having a chance to intercept it. It is confusing for most Arizona faithful that Rodriguez has stuck by his quarterbacks side this much.
The Wildcats will have a bye week to recover from the loss before heading to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes in two weeks.
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