Arizona fights back, but is unable to hold off Trojans
LOS ANGELES -- The Arizona Wildcats continued to fight, but came up short against the USC Trojans who moved into first place in the Pac-12 South by winning Saturday's football game, 49-35, on Nov. 4 at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
It was a slow start for the 'Cats until Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate jumped back into his rhythm and brought the Wildcats back, tying the game at 35 in the fourth quarter on the strength of 161 yards rushing.
USC came out of the gate running and pounded the Arizona defense in the first quarter rushing for 116-yards. The Wildcats struggled to hold off the Trojans and fumbled on a punt recovered by Jalen Greene for an 11-yard touchdown.
USC was able to keep the pressure on Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate leaving the Wildcats scoreless in the first quarter and without a touchdown in the first half.
"We had played so poorly in every phase," Rodriguez said. "Hard to play much worse. We played a little better, executed a little better."
Arizona's Dane Cruikshank intercepted USC quarterback Sam Darnold's pass in the end zone on the Trojans second drive of the game, which was much needed for the 'Cats in the first half. It was one of just a few bright spots for a Wildcats team struggling to remain in the game.
"We never give up. That's our motto," Cruikshank said. "We keep fighting to the end. Things didn't go our way."
The Wildcat's were able to get on the board in the beginning of the second quarter with a 45-yard field goal by Lucas Havrisik, but it wasn't much longer till the Trojans got into the end zone with 22-yard touchdown by Tyler Vaughns, 14-3. USC followed up that drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Steve Mitchell to give the Trojans a 21-3 lead.
USC didn't hesitate to add to their first half lead as Darnold completed a 41-yard pass to Deonta Burnett, which lead to a five-yard rush by Ronald Jones into the end zone.
Tate brought back hope for Arizona toward the end of the third quarter finding his way through the Trojans defense for a 32-yard score and the first touchdown of the night for the 'Cats. Arizona continued to claw their way back into the game with a 30-yard pass to Shun Brown for a touchdown on a fourth down conversion.
USC quickly responded with 42-yard rush by Aca'Cedri Ware for a touchdown to leave the Wildcats behind 35-20. Arizona answered back with a 54-yard rush by Tate, followed by a pass to J.J. Taylor for a touchdown.
The Wildcats tied the game at 35 after Zach Green plunged into the endzone on a three-yard run. However, it would be too little, too late for Arizona as they couldn't stop USC's Jones from running down the field on several occasions, leading to two scores and ultimately sealing the win for Troy.
Arizona will be back at home for their last home game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 8:15 p.m. against Oregon State.
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