Football Notebook: Too little too late
LOS ANGELES — In a fight for Pac-12 South supremacy, the No. 22 Arizona Wildcats were outmatched by the No. 17 USC Trojans and came up short of comeback in a 49-35 loss. The loss drops Arizona football to an overall record of 6-3 (4-2 in Pac-12), but on the bright side, it don’t drop in the Pac-12 standings and remain at second place.
Here’s a breakdown of what went wrong for Arizona:
The defense broke:
For the last few weeks, Arizona football's defense was tested but managed to rise to the occasion on several occasions. This time the ‘Cats met their match as they allowed a total of 642 yards to the Trojans and couldn’t produce the same game changing defensive plays as past weeks.
The defense line and linebackers had difficulties tackling on first contact and the secondary gave up too many chunk plays down the field for Arizona to have come out on top. The Trojans averaged 8.2 yards per play and physically dominated the Wildcats small defensive front.
“We gave up 650 yards and 50 points," UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Those are my concerns.”
Batman and Robin:
Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones II played the role of the iconic dynamic duo and fueled the Trojan offense from start to finish.
Trojan running back Ronald Jones II set the pace early and late for the Trojans. Jones opened up the game with five straight carries for 52 yards and making his presence known off the bat. Jones then dominated the fourth quarter with two touchdown runs in the final minutes after Arizona had made its improbable comeback. Jones finished the game with 194 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards and three rushing touchdowns.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold dominated the middle of the contest for the Trojans, throwing for 311 yards on 20-26 passing and two touchdowns, which both came in the second quarter. After throwing a first quarter interception, Darnold threw his two touchdowns on the next two drives to open up a 21-6 Trojan lead going into halftime. He then proceed to lead USC on touchdown drives on four of the Trojan’s eight second half possessions.
Too little too late:
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate made some magical plays for the Wildcats, but his first November game got off to a rough start. Tate was held under 100 yards of offense in the first half and it took him until 4:30 in the third quarter to finally break loose for a score. At that point, the Trojans sustained a 28-6 lead.
From there it seemed Tate had regained his magic and flipped the script on the Trojans. Tate led the Wildcats on four straight touchdown drives and finally tied the game up at 35 with just over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
But that magic vanished as Tate threw interceptions on the final two Arizona drives and with it, threw away any chances of a comeback that Arizona might have had.
Tate was emotional after the game and got support from USC head coach Clay Helton as well as several Trojan players.
“I don’t like to lose, I get emotional when I lose,” Tate said.
Overall, it was a solid performance from the possible Heisman candidate who finished the night with 307 total yards and three touchdowns, but just couldn’t do enough to complete the upset.
The last one:
Arizona football will plays its final home game of the 2017 season against Oregon State next Saturday, Nov. 11. The senior night game will kick-off at 8:15 p.m. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.
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