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Arizona football clutches first conference win after icing UCLA's kicker late in the fourth

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Arizona wide receiver Cedric Peterson (18) runs down the field while being chased by UCLA's Josh Woods (2). The Wildcats defeated the Bruins 20-17.

After senior quarterback Khalil Tate and senior running back JJ Taylor were ruled out of tonight’s game, fans' eyes turned to true freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell. Gunnell looked nothing like a freshman, however, and exceeded all expectations in tonight’s game, ultimately leading the Wildcats to a 20-17 win over UCLA. 

Gunnell, who started for the first time in his career, finished the first game 29-44, with 352 yards and one touchdown as well. There were moments in the game where Gunnell looked nervous, overthrowing a couple receivers, but he found his footing in the second half of the game, leading the Wildcats on two touchdown drives. 

“Grant didn’t seem to be a freshman at all in tonight’s game, "said junior linebacker Tony Fields II. "I have full confidence in him, and his play seemed like he’s been here a while.” 

The run game was not like it usually was, as we didn’t see much of Gary Brightwell or Bam Smith run the ball the whole game. Brightwell finished with 33 yards on 7 carries and one touchdown, and Smith finished with 35 yards on 6 carries. Smith, however, had 5 receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown.

One of the biggest stories tonight comes through Fields and Colin Schooler, who had a total of 23 tackles between the two of them. The pressure they were able to put upon UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was huge, and Arizona put him in some uncomfortable situations in the pocket after being able to scramble in the first half. After he was forced to pass, he struggled passing, going 17-33 for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

“It’s a team effort," said Head Coach Kevin Sumlin. "We have learned a lot about personnel, to give our team the best opportunity to win. I think the fact that we have so many underclassmen playing says the most about our team, especially how well we have played the last two weeks.”

Arizona football will head on the road to face Colorado next week on Saturday, Oct. 5. The game is set to take place at 1:30 p.m. MST.


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