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Arizona beats NDSU by 3 points, moving to 2-1 for the first time since 2019

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Kohichiro Yamada | The Daily Wildcat

The Arizona football team stands at the entrance to the field on Sept. 17 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats would go on to win the game 31-28 and improve their record to 2-1 on the season. 

The University of Arizona football team secured the win over North Dakota State University Saturday night by a score of 31-28 at Arizona Stadium.

“If you love being a Wildcat, you're gonna work hard and you're gonna give extra, then you're gonna do more, and we brought some good players in. We developed, we continue to develop our players that are here, and I think it will continue to get better,” head coach Jedd Fisch said.

"Whoever counts us out, make sure to count [us] in," wide receiver Dorian Singer said. 

The Arizona offense had a three-and-out on their first drive following a fumbled snap by Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura which set up a third down and 26 for the Wildcats. North Dakota State took their first possession down into Arizona territory but turned it over on downs on the Cats' 41-yard line.

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De Laura and the offense got things moving on their second drive. He rushed for 12 yards to secure a first down and then hit Michael Wiley for 6 yards to move the chains again. A 24-yard reception by Tanner McLachlan then set the Cats up at the 10-yard line. Wiley would run in the touchdown from six yards out to put Arizona up 7-0.

Nobody picked up senior fullback Hunter Luepke in coverage as he caught a 31-yard TD pass from NDSU quarterback Cam Miller, and he went untouched into the endzone to tie it up 7-7.

Arizona went for it on a fourth and 2 and failed to convert, setting up NDSU with excellent field position on the Wildcat 34-yard line.

Fifth-year linebacker Hunter Echols forced a fumble when he sacked Miller on the Arizona 5-yard line and it was recovered by redshirt senior linebacker Jerry Roberts of Arizona at the 17-yard line.

De Laura scrambled up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown to put Arizona ahead 14-7 after a 10-play 83-yard drive.

Miller ran in the touchdown from the 2-yard line to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard drive to tie it up 14-14 with 50 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats were able to move 56 yards down the field in four plays to set up a 36-yard field goal by Tyler Loop to put Arizona up 17-14 at the half.

The Bison received the kickoff to begin the second half and had a quick three-and-out. They were forced to punt for the first time in the game. Arizona would follow suit with a three-and-out of their own, and a punt to the NDSU 24-yard line.

NDSU did not pass the ball once on a touchdown drive to put them ahead 21-17, picking up chunk plays of 34 and 19 yards rushing on consecutive plays. Luepke ran in the touchdown from six yards out to the left side. Six plays and 76 yards, all on the ground to put the Bison ahead.

The Wildcats refused to go away and responded with an eight-play, 73-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard rushing touchdown from freshman running back Jonah Coleman. An NDSU facemask penalty helped Arizona move the chains early in the drive, and Singer hauled in a big 23-yard catch on third and 13 later on. 

Freshman running back Rayshon Luke got the Cats to the NDSU 2-yard line with a 28-yard rush to the left side, and Coleman would finish off the drive with the touchdown.

Luepke would eclipse 100 yards rushing on the day as he ripped off a 38-yard rushing touchdown to put the Bison back up 28-24, his second time finding the endzone.

Jacob Cowing caught a 22-yard pass from de Laura to advance Arizona back into NDSU territory, only his second reception of the game until that point. The drive ended with a 43-yard missed field goal from Arizona's Loop.

Down 28-24 with NDSU deep in their territory in the fourth quarter, the Arizona defense faced a big fourth down and 2. They got the stop and forced the Bison to turn it over on downs, getting the Wildcat offense back on the field.

After a 5-yard conversion to Cowing on fourth down and 1, de Laura went back to him on the next play for a 22-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone. Cowing caught his fifth touchdown of the year just three weeks into the season, and Arizona led once again 31-28 with five minutes remaining in the game.

The Arizona defense came up with a big stop on the ensuing drive, forcing NDSU to punt for only the second time of the game after a three-and-out. From there the Wildcat offense was able to secure a couple of first downs and run out the clock.

“So we've taken the ball away six times in these three games. We know we took away six in 12 [games last season], our goal now is to each week take it away again and keep taking it away, and you can see it's a mindset and it's a mentality,” Fisch said. 

Arizona gets the win over North Dakota State by a score of 31-28. The Wildcats move to 2-1 on the season and will play at the University of California, Berkeley next week for the Pac-12 conference opener.


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